Paul Prudhomme's original blackened redfish recipe, gleamed from a line cook at Commander's Palace making himself a quick lunch, launched a national craze that really helped to put New Orleans-style cooking on the map, and nearly led to the Redfish getting harvested to extinction.
But it's really a pain in the ass to cook at home, because it's basically pan-frying in a super-hot skillet with butter, so that means a ton of smoke. It's one thing to do it in a commercial kitchen with a big, powerful vent hood, but you probably don't have that. You can always do it outside, especially if you have a gas burner, but again, we're just making this harder than it needs to be.
So I found a way to just take the fuss out by using an oven broiler.
2-4 large redfish filets, scales-on
1 tsp olive oil
4 tbsp (half a stick) butter
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground thyme
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
You'll want some thick, scale-on filets because the scales make kind of a nice bed to the butter, plus you only have to cook it one side. I also recommend putting them on a little bed of aluminum foil to kind of create a little tray. Again, easy.
1. Combine your seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. I used the recipe out of the John Folse Encyclopedia book, but I suspect he just borrows the original Prudhomme recipe.
2. Wash your filets in cold water and pat dry well with paper towels. Heat your broiler to high heat.
3. In a small sauce pan, heat your olive oil over medium heat and throw in about a teaspoon of the seasoning mix just to help it bloom a bit and get nice and fragrant, then add the butter. Stir well and swirl the pan a bit to incorporate.
4. Use a basting brush to brush the butter mixture on to the filets. You don't want to drown them in the sauce, just kind of get it on there to help give the seasoning mix something to stick to. From there, you'll want to sprinkle the seasoning mix on the filets well and pat it in. Again, just coat the meat well, you'll likely still have some seasoning left over after.
5. Run the fish under your broiler on the oven's middle rack for anywhere from 5-10 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven. Things will be nice and brown on top and the edges of the scales should start to curl up a bit.
Now, if you really want to take this to the next level and impress your significant other, here's a deliciously savory sauce that goes well with any sautéed or charbroiled piece of fish.
8 ounces unsalted butter, chipped
1/4 cup crawfish tails, preferably with fat
1/4 cup andouille sausage, minced
1/ 2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp sliced green onions
hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste
1. In a sauté pan, combine the crawfish tails, wine, lemon juice, garlic, green onions, andouille and hot sauce over medium high heat.
2. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the liquid mixture reduces to half of its volume. From there, add the butter a piece at a time, swirling the pan to combine. DO NOT use a metal spoon or whisk to mix this or the butter will not melt evenly and you'll get hot spots.
You always want to prepare this sauce and serve it immediately after the food is cooked. But this will make more than enough to spoon over your redfish filets and really add another level of flavor.