Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Blackened Crappie Ala Dave

Thanks to our fishing friends, it’s been a long time since we’ve been without crappie. And since it’s Bev’s and her sister’s favorite fish, it’s what we eat most of the time when we want a white fish. After reading Dave’s blackening process over at My Year On The Grill, I’ve been into trying it, and so far have done only pork chops. So for this meal, it was blackened crappie.

We bought some Zatarains Blacken Seasoning and I kept looking in vain for their Cajun Seasoning for other dishes, only to discover they make a Creole but not a Cajun, that I could find. So I began digging around on line and first discovered there is a big difference between Creole and Cajun seasoning. Some of the Cajun ones are basically, red pepper, black pepper, salt and garlic. I found several recipes with more herbs and spices and discovered that Emeril’s Essence, which we use regularly, is a referred to as a Cajun blend, without the heat, and that all I needed to do was add about one part cayenne to four parts Essence and I’d have about the same blend as many of the recipes I found. So I mixed up a batch of Essence for general use and will add the cayenne at time of use. In reading labels, it appears the major difference between Cajun and blackening seasoning is the addition of chili powder to the latter.

Since we had the blackening seasoning on hand, I used it for the fish and I’ll use the kicked up Essence when Cajun is called for.

Knowing Alex likes her fish sautéed with a lemon, butter, caper sauce and is unlikely to like the blackened, that’s what we made for her and her sleepover friend. One of Bev’s most remembered meals was blackened salmon served atop a bed of pasta in lemon, butter, caper sauce at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, so after sautéing the girls fish, we made up a bigger than normal batch of the sauce, topped their crappie, and tossed the rest with pasta. The sauce recipe was to be 2 cups butter, 4 tbsp lemon juice (I added the zest as well), and 4 tbsp capers (I chopped them). I substituted white wine for one stick of the butter.

Here’s my plate and while the picture is very unimpressive, the meal was excellent. We frequently rate our meals as company quality, but I’d serve this if I owned a restaurant – we all loved it and I can’t wait to make it again.

Recap: Blackened cooking– 1 tbsp butter per 1 tsp seasoning. Pasta sauce – 1 ¾ cups butter, ½ cup white wine, 4 tbsp chopped capers, 4 tbsp lemon juice and zest of one lemon. I pound pasta. Give this a try and let me know what you think.

I'm getting a backlog of topics so decided to post these two together. We had blackened fish for dinner the night before, and I thawed two packages to be sure we had plenty and as a result, we had some left over. We decided to use them in fish tacos, which we’ve never made for some reason – and only eaten once before. I looked around at various recipes including some from you all and when I began reading them to Bev, she said she really wanted to do blackened fish – even though we just had it last night for supper. So I hunted around and found a recipe for blackened grouper that included an avocado puree onto the plate, topped with the fish then drizzled with chipotle lime sauce and it sounded perfect.

Here’s the recipe for the chipotle lime sauce:
· 1 cup sour cream
· 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
· 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
· 3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
· 2 tablespoons chopped green onion tops
· Salt and ground pepper to taste
Whisk everything together in a bowl.

It tasted pretty limey by itself but was perfect on the taco.

Next we blackened the fish in a hot cast iron skillet just like last night.

I shredded some cabbage and sliced an avocado in lieu of the puree and Bev added a little red and yellow sweet pepper to the cabbage for pretty and we gave the tortillas a quick grill and spread the sauce over the entire top side – it was too thick to pour. Then to half of it, we added a layer of fish, then cabbage then avocado and they were delicious. I took several pictures and somehow ended up without them. I think they would have been some good shots too. At any rate, we loved the tacos for our first time ever making them.

Interestingly, just before I made up the sauce, we watched a cooking competition on Food Network and one of the winner's dishes was “Catfish tacos with cilantro lime slaw and chipotle cream sauce” – same basic flavors as we were using.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by.



  1. Does this mean that one of these days we'll see you on Food Network???

  2. Only if they do a show one folks who'd like to be good cooks.

  3. I love crappie - my mom always had a freezerful and we'd have big fish fries with all the family. Blackened sounds REALLY good! And I'm going to try the lime sauce on some tacos. Yum! Nice post, Larry!

  4. thanks for the shout out... It looks great to me, glad this is working so well for YOU. GREAT TIP FOR THE ESSENCE

  5. I'm afraid I'm with Alex in not liking blackened food, although I'm a minority in my house. I won't even eat grilled food, because I don't like black lines. Some people are just too fussy, right?

  6. The blackened Crappie looks wonderful, Larry. I loved New Orleans blackened fish when I lived there...


  7. That chipotle lime sauce sounds wonderful. I love fish tacos! Great job on the blackening. Don't get too wrapped up on the Creole/Cajun thing though. Depends a lot on the brands you use and the flavors have pretty much melded together these days anyway so much that they probably ought to call it something like Creajun!!

    Now I'm hungry for fish!

  8. Sounds wonderful! I'd order it if you owned a restaurant :-)


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