It’s not burnt…it’s blackened!
Most people assume that blackening is a traditional Cajun recipe but this is actually a misconception. The blackening process was invented and perfected by Chef Paul Prudhomme, at K-Paul’s in New Orleans (I’ve eaten there and the food is the bomb!). Chef Prudhomme actually introduced the process just over 30 years ago.
The food is dipped in melted butter, then dredged in an array of spices and seasonings. A cast Iron pan is placed on the burner (gas stoves work so much better for this process) until the pan is what we call, “white hot”. You then place the protein into the pan (away from you as any splashing will cause severe injury to you) and coo for about 2 minutes each side. The warning to this method of cooking is that it isn’t best suited for a home kitchen that isn’t well ventilated or open. When the butter dipped protein is placed into the white hot cast iron pan, it WILL flame up!
Unlike some other foods, there is no standard recipe for blackening seasoning. Salt and pepper are to be found in almost all recipes, and are most commonly accompanied by paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and oregano (measurements will vary). Red fish was the first dish to be blackened.
When I became serious about my culinary career, I did a final exam on Blackening and let me tell you, yes this process is easy and quick…and the protein is amazingly juicy and tender when served.
Unfortunately, I never met the Chef as he passed away in October, 2015 from a brief illness. His personal library of nearly 600 cook books, food reference books and technical books on food science were donated to the John and Bonnie Boyd Hospitality and Culinary Library, an affiliate with the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. R.I.P. Chef.