Chef Paul Prudhomme tossed some spice on a hunk of catfish about three decades ago and started a craze that has not abated. You can still find his smiling countenance on a tall thin jar of his eponymous seasonings at your grocery store, but I like to tackle this one with whatever I can find on my shelf.
The joy of this recipe and what makes it such an easy weeknight standard at our household is that it works on virtually any sear-able protein. Not in the mood for fish? Try it on a thick pork chop, a flank steak or skinless chicken breast. Heck, you can probably slice up a few zucchini lengthwise and I bet it’d work. (I may have to try that tonight!)
But today we’re talking seafood and while I have tackled the ubiquitous salmon, this recipe works fabulously with tuna, swordfish, halibut or any thick cut of fish that can resemble a steak. We can devolve into the farm-raised versus wild caught salmon discussion, but frankly, I always go with what looks super fresh and reasonably priced, because the seasonings are what make this dish and subtle is not the headline here.
The last bit of fun is that you get to play restaurant chef and carve this into nice juicy slices when you serve it. Add some rice and a veggie and your kids will think you just graduated culinary school. Sometimes fun plating is a nice surprise to the picky palate. It always gets an exclamation of surprise at our table.
Blackened Pan-Seared Salmon
1 lb. fresh salmon
1/4 teaspoon of any or all of the following: Cayenne pepper, garlic powder, smoked chili powder, Old Bay, onion powder, garlic salt, paprika, oregano – or pretty much anything with zing that you enjoy and can find in your spice drawer
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Thoroughly mix together all the spices in a small bowl.
Rub the spice mix onto the flesh side of the salmon. If the filet has been skinned, rub into both sides. Do not be scared to really coat it.
Heat oil in a stick-free pan to medium high.
Lay salmon in the pan and let cook for 3-5 minutes until a crust has formed.
Flip and cook through to desired done-ness. Salmon can be pink and rare on the inside or go as long as well-done.
Remove from pan and cut on the bias into 2-inch slabs. It will be flaky and tender enough to eat without a knife.