Actually, you can use any firm-bodied white fish.
I’d never eaten grouper before — I picked up two filets, and got sticker shock at the cash register. (Always pays to ask if prices aren’t posted. Duh.)
It turns out there are a lot of species of fish named grouper — they’re pretty much all in the same two genera of fish, Epinephelus and Mycteroperca. A lot of them live in the Pacific and some live in the Persian Gulf, and they all look pretty ugly, being all mouth.
Anyhow, I made the first one Hawaiian style — if I took good enough notes, I may post that later — but this one I made blackened and spicy, in honor of Mardi Gras, which occurs tomorrow. And Mardi Gras reminds me of New Orleans, which I visited twice, but neither time for Mardi Gras. Halloween 2003 was more than plenty large for me. The previous time had been for a conference in June in the mid-90’s, and I could see why they all come out at night. The daytime weather even in June is horrid. You could cut it with a knife, blacken it, and serve it. (The male attendees at the convention were nearly all dressed in shorts, even the presenters.)
It turns out blackened seafood isn’t really an old Cajun tradition — apparently the late Paul Prudhomme of New Orleans had something to do with the development and popularization of this dish. That’s okay; we’re living FAT!
Party hardy, folks! (I’ll be staying home this year.)
Prep Time: To make the Blackened Spice Mix: 10 minutes. To prep the fish: 2 minutes plus 15 minutes to marinate.
Cook Time: 6-7 minutes on a hot George Foreman Grill (fish about 1 inch thick)
Rest Time: 3-5 minutes.
Special Equipment: George Foreman (or similar) grill. (You can use a pan in a regular outdoor grill, or pan fry medium high, covered, too.)
Cajun Blackened Grouper
For the Blackening Seasoning (this makes extra, seal and store for future use):
- 3 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (medium hot, or otherwise)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix it all together and store with your other spices.
For the Cajun Blackened Fish:
- 1.25 pounds of grouper (or other sturdy whitefish) filet.
- 1 teaspoon oil (avocodo is good)
- 2 teaspoons of the above Blackening Seasoning (after your first experiment, you may find you want to vary this up or down).
- Lemon wedges for garnish. Fresh parsley would be fun, too.
I left the skin on the grouper — helps keep the fish together and easy enough to remove when you are eating it.
Pre-heat your George Foreman or other grill.
Rub the fish, both sides, with the oil, removing excess.
On the non-skin side, add the Blackening seasoning, and rub it in. You do not need to coat the other side, but if you do have a fish filet with no skin, rub both sides — there’s no need to add extra unless you like this REALLY hot.
Place, skin side down, into the George Foreman, and let ‘er rip for 6-7 minutes, assuming your filet is as mine was, nearly an inch thick in the thickest section. It is recommended that you roll the thin flap of filet which would be near the fish’s tail up, so that portion doesn’t overcook. (I tried to do that, but the fish flattened out when I closed the lid. Didn’t seem to matter much with this fish, anyway.)
Serve with lemon garnish.
A note on the heat: This turned out just right, for me. I have friends who’d prefer their food milder, and friends who’d prefer hotter so take that into consideration when you apply the above blend. (Also, the freshness of your herbs and spices will matter.)
Serving suggestions: Mustard greens or fresh spinach, sauteed in butter and fresh garlic, barely wilted, with a dollop or two of hot sauce mixed in at the last moment. (I am LONG on mustard greens!)
Leftovers: Enjoy in a salad.
This recipe owes a lot to hopping around the Internet to learn there’s no true standardized ratio of herbs and spices for Cajun seasoning, but I borrowed most heavily from: Big Daddy’s Blackened Tilapia. And here’s the platter!