This post contains links to affiliate websites, such as Amazon, and we receive an affiliate commission for any purchases made by you using these links. We appreciate your support!
An easy homemade Cajun seasoning makes this blackened fish recipe moist and perfectly spiced. Served with a flavorful baked rice pilaf, it’s a simple meal that everyone will love!
Cajun food ranks among my very favorite cuisines, and having once lived just a few hours drive from New Orleans, I’ve eaten my share of it. I’ve also tried to re-create my share of it in my own kitchen.
Since I’d never made blackened fish at home before, I figured this would be a great time to try it myself. It turned out to be as easy as can be, and the dreaded smoke detector didn’t even go off!
If you’ve never had blackened fish, it’s basically fish that’s been liberally sprinkled with a Cajun spice blend and pan-fried so that the spices get nice and toasted without getting burnt. Even though it looks pretty dark – hence the term “blackened”, there is no burnt taste at all.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
Cajun Rice Pilaf
This rice features the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking, onion, bell pepper, and celery. This is the basis of many Cajun recipes and is a variation on French mirepoix, which uses carrots instead of bell peppers.
While you could use different vegetables, this classic combo adds to the Cajun flavor of this dish.
I use long grain white rice for this recipe, but jasmine rice or a quick-cooking brown rice can be substituted. Regular brown rice takes too long to cook and would require a different liquid ratio.
Any oil including olive oil can be substituted for the butter if you are keeping an eye on saturated fats.
Water can be substituted for the broth, however vegetable or chicken broth add rich flavor to the rice.
A Cajun spice blend is typically made with a combination of paprika, onion powder, thyme, pepper, oregano, cayenne and salt. These spices are all easy to find, and you may already have all of them. Store bought Cajun seasoning, or “blackening” seasoning can be used instead of making your own.
Use an oil with a high smoke point for blackening. I usually use canola oil, but vegetable, grapeseed, or peanut oil work equally well. Olive oil has a lower smoke point and is not ideal in this case.
What Kind of Fish to Use for Cajun Blackened Fish
I used rockfish for this blackened fish recipe. Rockfish is a mild-flavored, versatile fish that lends itself well to all kinds of cooking methods, like this delicious oven-fried rockfish recipe.
However the blackening technique could absolutely be used with pretty much any fish. Firm, flaky white fish like snapper, walleye, cod, haddock, mahi mahi or halibut work just as well, and I’ve seen recipes that use salmon too.
How to Make Cajun Blackened Fish
Make the rice
Start by preparing the Cajun rice pilaf and putting it in the oven to bake.
- Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add onion, red pepper and celery and cook until softened, 4-5 minutes.
- Add the rice to the skillet and stir to combine, toasting it for about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken broth and salt and bring to a simmer.
- Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and transfer the pan to the preheated oven. Bake 20-25 minutes until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
Make the Cajun Blacked Fish
As per tradition, I used my trusty Lodge cast iron skillet for this recipe. Since the pan needs to get really hot, I think cast iron is essential here.
- First, mix up a simple Cajun seasoning. Don’t worry, it’s nothing exotic, you most likely have all of these spices already.
- Then sprinkle the fish on both sides with a liberal amount of seasoning, patting it on so it adheres well.
3. Heat a large pan over high heat, add some canola or vegetable oil and sear the fish about 3 minutes per side until dark but not burnt.
Sound good to you? If you make this recipe, I would be thrilled if you would take a pic and tag me on Instagram @ourhappymess!
Cajun Blackened Fish Recipe
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 large yellow onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1.5 cups long grain white rice
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 4 rock fish fillets or any firm white fish
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Heat a saute pan, or any large heavy pan with a tight-fitting lid, on the stove over medium heat. Add the butter.
- When the butter has melted, add the chopped onions, peppers and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened (4-5 minutes).
- Stir in the rice, and toast until lightly browned, stirring frequently so it doesn’t burn. Slowly pour in the chicken broth, add the salt, and stir.
- Simmer for 5 minutes on the stove, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. If your lid is not tight-fitting, cover the pan first with a sheet of aluminum foil, and then with the lid, to prevent steam from escaping.
- Bake 20-25 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- While the rice is cooking, in a small bowl, combine the paprika, onion powder, salt, thyme, black pepper, oregano, and cayenne.
- Sprinkle the fish generously with the spices on all sides, patting to make sure they adhere.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Add the oil, and place the fillets in the skillet. Work in batches if they do not all fit at once. Cook for about 3-4 minutes on the first side and gently lift a fillet with a spatula to check the color. Once they are a dark brown, flip and cook on the other side for about 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Serve over rice.