Blackening is a cooking method that leaves the fish or meat with a flavorful crispy crust, and tender inside. Blackening is usually associated with thin portions of fish or poultry, but can be used for red meats as well. If you are using steak, you will need a thin 1/2-inch slice, or anything thicker than that can be cooked only to blue-rare or rare. Finishing blackened foods in an oven is also an option, but this will make the outside crust not as crispy as it should be. If you are blackening tuna, you can use a rather thick tuna steak, because you only need to sear it. You should keep larger steaks of beef or tuna at room temperature for about 1 hour before cooking, in order to even the internal temperature, otherwise the food may remain slighly cold on the inside.
The blackening spice mix is a hot spice, but if you remove the cayenne pepper from it you can have a mild blackening spice mix.
Making your own blackening spice mix is easy. You need: 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper, 1 tsp. ground white pepper, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1 tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tbsp. onion powder, 1 tbsp. powdered dry thyme, and (optional) 1 tbsp. whole wheat flour.
You can adjust the proportion of the different ingredients according to your taste. Place all of the ingredients in an empty glass jar and shake well.
How to blacken fish: Pat dry the fish filet with tissue paper and dredge it in the blackening spice mix. Heat a large cast-iron pan to sizzling hot and grease it generously with clarified butter or oil. Place the fish filet in the pan and cook it for a minute or two on both sides. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the fish. A flat-top grill can be used to cook the blackened fish, but it has to be heated to the maximum. You won't like cleaning the flat-top after that, though. Make sure you are cooking with blackening spice under proper ventilation, as the fumes from the pan can be very spicy for breathing.
About the author: George Krumov is a Red Seal certified chef with many years of culinary experience working around the world in Europe, the Middle East, the cruise line industry and North America. In the last two decades he has headed the kitchens of several restaurants in Canada, and ran his own restaurant.
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