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Cajun Blackening Uncovered

Featured, Understanding Spices

What is Cajun blackening?

Blackening is a traditional Cajun cooking technique that adds a complex flavour and dark colour to fish, shellfish and chicken. The meat is dipped in butter, seasoned and cooked over a high heat. The combination of these three things gives the meat a dark crust and it’s deep flavour. Although blackening seasoning is spicy, it isn’t overly hot so it’s perfect for that bold, robust flavour without too much heat.

Although the precise ingredients vary from cook to cook, Cajun blackening seasoning typically includes:

  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper
  • White pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Dried oregano
  • Dried thyme
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Mustard seeds
  • Cumin seeds
  • Salt

A brief history of Cajun blackening and Cajun cuisine

Cajun cuisine is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana from the Acadians, French settlers who immigrated to Canada in the early 1600s. They lived off the land, adapting the traditional rural French recipes to what they could catch or gather from the land and sea. Typical catches would include salmon, lobster and cod found in the North Atlantic. When the Acadians refused to pledge allegiance to the British in 1755, over 14,000 Acadians were exiled from Canada, settling in the swamps and bayous of southern Louisiana.

Once again, the Acadians had to adapt their cuisine to the ingredients that were available in their new surroundings. This included crab, oysters, alligator, crawfish, shrimp, catfish and redfish which were caught in the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding bayous. Rice took the place of potatoes and new spices like black pepper and cayenne pepper were introduced.

Cajun cuisine is also largely influenced by the Spanish, Native Americans and African-Americans. Some of the most famous Cajun dishes include gumbo (a soup made with a strong-flavoured stock, meat or shellfish, chicken or sausages), jambalaya (a rice dish with meat, vegetables and sausages), and the famous crawfish boil (crawfish, potatoes, corn and smoked sausage boiled in Cajun seasonings).

How do you use Cajun blackening?

The traditional way of preparing a dish with Cajun blackening spice mix is to rub the fish fillets, shellfish or chicken with the seasoning before cooking it in a hot cast iron skillet. This creates a delicious blackened, crusty coating around the meat. For an authentic Cajun experience, pair the blackened meat with Cajun side dishes like coleslaw, dirty rice, corn fritters, cheese grits and sweet potato fries.

The great thing about blackening seasoning is that it works on a wide variety of fish. While catfish is the most popular, you can also use trout, red snapper, salmon, tilapia and cod.

You can also use Cajun Blackening spice mix as a marinade. Mix it with oil and either white vinegar (cider vinegar also works), or orange, lemon and lime juice.

Recipe suggestions

Keen to try it out? You can find Cajun Blackening Spice Mix on our website here. Here are some great recipes which use the spice blend:

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