An easy homemade Cajun seasoning makes this blackened fish recipe ultra-flavorful. In tacos, in a sandwich, on a salad, or on its own with rice, it's a simple meal that everyone will love!
A couple of weeks ago, Phil went to New Orleans on business. I've already waxed nostalgic about New Orleans plenty of times (see chicken, shrimp and sausage jambalaya and bananas foster crepes), so I won't bore you again, but let's just say that I was pretty green with envy. He was kind(?) enough to send me pictures as he strolled through the streets of the French Quarter, wandering by charming cafes we'd visited.
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When he came back he told me all about the food he'd eaten, including a great meal of blackened fish he'd had at K-Paul's. 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. It looks pretty dark in photos but trust me, there is no burnt taste at all.
I served it with a simple rice pilaf, but it's also great in tacos and sandwiches. Next time, I plan to try it with this brown butter sauce.
How to Make Blackened 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.
Heat a large pan over high heat, add some vegetable oil and sear the fish for a few minutes on each side until dark but not burnt.
What Kind of Fish to Use for this Blackened Fish Recipe
I used rock fish for this blackened fish recipe, although the technique could absolutely be used with pretty much any fish. Firm, flaky white fish like snapper, cod, haddock, or halibut would work just as well, and I've seen recipes that use salmon too.
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Products I Used to Make this Cajun Blackened Fish Recipe
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Cajun Blackened Fish Recipe
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ½ 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
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ 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 35-40 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 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.
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