New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Thursday, February 02, 2023
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Blackened Redfish

Yeah, dawlin', have a hawt!

Every time I read about all that good food I remember so well, I go "Waaaahhhhh" - sort of like the way Lucy used to cry on "I Love Lucy". We have a few so-called "Cajun" style restaurants here - one is supposed to be good, but pricey - haven't tried it yet. And it appears that generally the most common cuisine exported at all from Louisiana is Cajun. I mean, here they don't really know very much about all the other great New Orleans cooking. (I think they confuse Cajun with New Orleans.) So I'm always very skeptical as to the authenticity of any dish that purports to be "New Orleans style" this-or-that.

Now, this may open up a whole can of worms, but let's talk "blackened". It seems to me that I heard that this cooking technique was invented by Paul Prudhomme. I certainly never heard of it when I was growing up in N.O. My mother (a GREAT cook) was half Italian and half Cajun, and she said when food got "blackened", they threw it away because it was just plain burnt! She didn't remember ever encountering the "blackened" thing in her childhood, and her mother was 100% Cajun. So what's the story, folks? Is this a relatively recent technique, and did it in fact start with Prudhomme? P.S. I have not to this day tasted anything "blackened". Is it really good?

It's good when done right:

When Paul Prudhomme started the craze, this was a unique and tastey dish. Then just about every restuarant all over the country jumped on the bandwagon (which nearly depleted our local redfish)and served burned food (like ya Mama tawked about). People seemed to think this was authentic Cajun food. We just laughed--the way we laugh at movies filmed in N.O. where everbody has a southern drawl but ends sentences with "...,Cher".

I remember this blackened craze being followed by a pepper craze. Cayenne became the rage. I knew people who raved about new dishes at restaurants and how wonderfully "spicey" they were. To my taste, this stuff wasn't spicey (it wasn't even good) it was just peppery as hell.

And speaking of redfish...
my great-aunt (who was Irish) used to make something she called "fish salad". I haven't tasted it since I was very young. I know she used redfish and it was a mayonnaise-y lemon-y sort of dish, and delicious! Does anyone know of it and where I might find a recipe? (Not that I could get redfish here, I'd have to substitute.)

Drum or Sheapshead:

maks a good substitute for redfish, but I don't know if you can get either of these in Canada.

Never had anything like your aunt's redfish salad, but it sounds delicious. If ya come up with a recipe, let us know.

My "step-granfather" was an avid fisherman. We always had redfish coming out the wahoo in our freezer when I was a kid. My mother is an excellent and imaginative cook. But all she ever did with the redfish was make Coubillion (sp?). Back in those days of meatless Fridays, seems like all we ever had was Coubillion or cod fish cakes. Took me a long time before I started liking either of these again.

Thanks for confirming that!

And yeah - other than "blackened", all people here seem to associate with N.O. food is pepper, pepper and more pepper. I try to patiently explain to them that you can have authentic New Orleans or Cajun cooking without overdoing the pepper. (Although my Canadian husband loves Louisiana Hot Sauce - but then, his parents are from Hungary, so that's a whole 'nother story, cuisine-wise!).

Another thing I have patiently explained hundreds of times here is why I don't sound like I just stepped out of Gone With the Wind. The N.O. accent is tough to describe, though. When I tell people we don't have that deep-south drawl, they look like they think I'm making it up! :)