|Barbara is the owner of Jade Luna Home Made Ice Cream, downtown main street, and sells a wide variety of homemade delicacies at the Friday Matapalo farmer’s market at Martina’s Bar. Contact her directly firstname.lastname@example.org|
Many years ago when I was in my early twenties, I worked for a talented chef named David Bernatzky. Although I worked with him for a relatively short period of time, he taught me a lot. One of the many things I learned from him was the technique of “Pan Blackening.” This technique was made famous by Chef Paul Prudhomme (RIP) at his K Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen. It later became hugely popular, although I found was rarely done correctly. J Dave (the name of Dave’s restaurant J Dave’s, a take off on K Paul’s) was a master of this technique.
Prudhomme’s famous dish was Cajun Pan Blackened Redfish although the preparation can be used with any type of seafood or meat. Dave’s specialty was Blackened Prime Rib and Jumbo Shrimp, oh my yummy! The dish starts with a blend of spices called Cajun spice. You can buy the spice already prepared, or you can make your own. I still have my hand written copy of Dave’s recipe from 30 years ago. I will share it here, with the promise that when you wow your friends with this dish, you will always give credit for it to my good friend J Dave.
This preparation produces a lot of smoke, so if you don’t have a hood fan in your kitchen, you can do it outside on your barbeque. You start with your meat or fish filet (½ – ¾ inch thickness) clarified butter or oil with a high smoking point, and a smoking hot cast iron pan. Put your cast iron pan on the highest flame of your stove or barbeque grill and let it get very hot (at least 10 minutes, the pan should be “white” hot). Have on hand a thick oven mitt or pot holders, metal spatula, and plates for the cooked fish. Sprinkle the spice on each side of your filet, lightly patting it in. When your pan is hot, swirl in an ounce or two (1/4 cup) of clarified butter or peanut oil, coating the bottom of the pan. The oil should be smoking, if not your pan is not hot enough in which case pour out the oil and let it get hotter. When the pan is smoking hot, carefully lay your filets in the pan and let sear (do not move around), turning the spices a dark brown color and sealing in all the delicious juices and flavor of the fish. The trick is to blacken the spices without burning them. Cook on one side about 2 minutes and then carefully turn with a spatula and cook on the other side. Keep the pan hot do not turn down the heat. If the pan looks too dry add a little more butter or oil. If you are cooking a thick piece of meat like prime rib, you will have to finish the cooking process in a hot oven to your desired doneness. You want your meat or seafood to be juicy, not dry, dark brown but not burnt. Plate your fish filet and adorn with fresh pineapple or mango salsa and a slice of lemon or lime. Buen Provecho!
1-2 c diced fresh pineapple
2-½ c small diced red onion
3-½ c small diced sweet red pepper
4-¼ c chopped fresh cilantro
5-¼ c lemon or lime juice
6-1 pickled jalapeño pepper fine diced
7-Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
8-Mix together and refrigerate for a couple of hours to marry the flavors.
J Dave’s Cajun Spice
1-½ c sea salt
2-2 c Hungarian (sweet) paprika
3-¼ – ½ c cayenne pepper (depending on your love of heat)
4-¼ c white pepper
5-¼ c black pepper
6-¼ c oregano
7-1/3 c thyme
8-1/8 c basil
9-¼ c garlic powder
10-¼ c onion powder
11-½ c parsley
12-¼ c marjoram
13-1/8 c cumin
14-1/8 c tarragon
15-Mix together and store in an air tight container.