Over the years my palate has grown a little heartier, I do love chipotle peppers, I still find them too hot but love the flavor. And I have developed a fondness for blackened things :) I recall watching chefs take chicken,or shrimp and rub it with something mysterious and sear it in hot hot pans, preferably cast iron, until smoke filled the air and you could smell the spices. I found it intriguing but at the time I did not favor such flavors and carried on.
Since I have toughened up and have realized how dreadfully easy it is to blacken things, it has become one of my go to "fast-food" meals.
Last nights dinner...Blackened Tilapia, 5 grain rice, mashed rutabaga, and, as usual, Tabbouleh salad.
Theres two things I want to talk about in regards to that dinner.. Well three, it was delicious, first of all.
But for real...don't get fooled by Tilapia..It was once nothing and is now the most farmed fish in the United States. In the food business they call it "Aquatic chicken" because because it breeds easily and tastes bland, tilapia is the perfect factory fish; it happily eats pellets made largely of corn and soy and gains weight rapidly, easily converting a diet that resembles cheap chicken feed into low-cost seafood.
Thats all well and good but the trick comes in nutritionally..Although it is a good source of protein without the saturated fat of red meat,unlike most other fish, tilapia contains relatively little of the fish oils that are supposed to be oh so beneficial, the Omega 3's
But whatever, its still not an evil choice :)
Heres the other point I am compelled to share..as romantic a notion it is to think of old cajuns pull in off the river after a day of alligator hunting and whipping up a big pot of jambalaya and blackened gator...I am sorry to report thats all it is, a romantic notion.
The blackening process was invented and perfected by Chef Paul Prudhomme, at K-Paul's in New Orleans. Though Chef Prudhomme is all about Louisiana , he actually introduced blackening less than 30 years ago. It quickly caught on, and became pretty darn trendy. Apparently Chef Paul first blackened a Redfish, as the legend goes.
So lets blacken the sucker!
here's a recipe that you can start with:
2 tsp. kosher salt;
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper;
1 ½ tsp. cayenne;
1 tbsp. paprika;
½ tsp. thyme;
½ tsp. oregano
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. white sugar
Mix it all together..coat your fish, chicken, shrimp, whatever, generously with the mix
Now this is a base, you adjust it as you like, make it hotter, or dont..experiment with the balance, make it your own.
Melt butter in a cast iron pan
Add your coated food
fry on both sides until done.
Told you it was easy...now if you'll excuse me, its almost the close of alligator season...