Blacken fish and recipe a la prudhomme

Yield: 6 servings

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The blackening technique was largely invented by Chef Paul Prudhomme in the 1970s. Unfortunately, it wasn't until the Gulf redfish was quite literally endangered that he admitted that he had made a mistake ++ it did not make sense to blacken such delicately-flavored fish.

This means that he currently advocates blackening fish that can stand up to the spices, which means more strongly-flavored fish, which usually means more fatty fish. His favorite all-time fish to blacken is catfish. Also, his original recipe recommended red snapper as a possible substitute. Californians should know that this is *NOT* what is marketed in California as red snapper. The fishing lobby in California got legislation pushed through that allows them to call rockfish and all sorts of other formerly unfashionable fish "red snapper". California "red snapper" is literally often turned back at the borders of other states like Nevada because no other state in the union allows this criminal deception. *ahem* It is also unfortunate that his blackening recipe calls for ¾ pound of butter. But I believe that you can work around that quite easily: - 12 tablespoons of butter are for serving at the table - 2 teaspoons per fillet are actually used in the pan, and shouldn't be missed if omitted (FYI, you pour one teaspoon on the top of the fillet when it first enters the pan, then you pour the other teaspoon on the top of the fillet after you turn it) - the rest of the butter is used to dredge the fish in so the spices will stick. Light cooking spray should serve the same purpose; might as well use butter-flavored Pam. I've attached his recipe from his original cookbook below, modified to remove the butter. In addition, you should know that his latest serious lowfat cookbook, Fork in the Road, advocates a similar technique he calls bronzing. In blackening, one gets the skillet EXTREMELY hot (literally beyond smoking; he says you cannot possibly get the skillet too hot) and sears the spice-coated fish. Bronzing is conducted at 350-400 degrees rather than 500+ degrees, but follows the same general idea. He claims that his favorite recipe in the whole cookbook is the bronzed [fresh] tuna salad, but he pegs it at 25% CFF. My read of the recipe says that he must be using some very fatty east-coast tuna for this, because no way would it even *approach* 15% CFF if he was using ahi (yellowfin tuna); it would probably be much closer to 10% CFF. If your husband enjoys blackened fish so much, you should invest in Fork in the Road ++ lots of good spicy recipes that range from lowfat to VLF. The following recipe makes 6 servings. I've abbreviated some of the chattiness severely: Seasoning Mix: 1 T sweet paprika 2½ t salt 1 t onion powder 1 t garlic powder 1 t cayenne (or other ground red) pepper ¾ t white pepper ¾ t black pepper ½ t dried thyme leaves ½ t dried oregano leaves 6 ea (8- to 10-ounce) fish fillets, cut about ½ inch thick [He notes that the fillets MUST not be more than ¾ inch thick] Spray a large cast-iron skillet with cooking spray or wipe it with an oiled cloth, then heat it over very high heat until it is beyond the smoking stage and you see white ash in the skillet bottom (the skillet cannot be too hot for this dish), at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the serving plates in a 250 degree F oven. Thoroughly combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl. Spray both sides of each fillet lightly with cooking spray, then sprinkle seasoning mix generously and evenly on both sides of the fillets, patting it in by hand. Place the fillets in the hot skillet and cook, uncovered, over the same high heat until the underside looks charred, about 2 minutes (the time will vary according to the fillet's thickness and the heat of the skillet). Turn the fish over and cook until the fish is done, about 2 minutes more. Repeat with remaining fillets. Serve each fillet while piping hot. [My recommendation is that you start with one fillet at a time as a learning device; that you *really* pat the spices into the fillet well so when you leave some on the bottom of the pan when turning the fillets (due to the lack of butter), the amount left will be minimized; and finally I recommend highly that you do NOT use even the finest nonstick cookware for this as you will surely damage it by getting it this hot, to say nothing of the fumes] Originally posted by Curtis Jackson cjackson@... Alt.fatfree

Submitted By SAM LEFKOWITZ On 10-29-94

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