Blackened Fish & Grilled Vegetable Salad

I hate to admit this to you, but I have a minor confession to make. I know I’ve spoken endlessly about cooking your own food and growing whatever you can. I know I’ve been all the way through culinary school and am a culinary instructor myself. I also know, that I am human and as I like the occasional bag of salty, crunchy junk food, I might also occasionally purchase a pre-made spice mix at the store. GASP! I know! It’s like I just told you I’m not naturally blond, or that the mansion in the Hamptons is a rental!!

Its only happened a few times, two… three… ten, at the most, I swear! A few have been really good too and they usually come back from my vacations as souveniers (Pirate’s Pepper from St. John is a particular favorite) or other people’s vacations, as a thanks-for-cat-sitting token. They’ve seen the needles in my pantry and offer up more dope.

Currently, I am all out of my stash though, with the single exception of one canister that I finally got around to writing “TOO SALTY” on with a sharpie marker to remind me that it renders all it touches inedible. And I could eat salted butter sandwiches on saltines with a side of salt and a salt water cocktail. Throw it out! you say? But I might need it! I just have to keep it around… just in case.

Luckily, I also have a pantry flush with whole and ground spices and grew up with Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen as my father’s guiding light in the kitchen and so last night, with a fresh black sea bass fillet from my new favorite seafood shop in Keyport, NJ, I threw together a mix that I might just package and sell as my own:

Blackening Spice Mix
1 T Salt
1 T Cumin
1 T Dried Oregano
1 T Aleppo Pepper
1 T Chili Powder
1 T Garlic Powder
a pinch of cayenne pepper
a pinch of cinnamon

Melt half a stick of butter. Rinse your fish (anything that you can cook on the grill works for this) and pat it dry with paper towels, then dip into the butter, then the blackening spices, as though you were breading it. Heat your grill to high, or build a hot fire with charcoal, and cook fish until its done, flipping halfway through. How long? Depends on the fish. If you try to flip it and it sticks to the grill, give it another minute until it releases on its own.

Grilled Vegetable Salad
An assortment of asparagus spears, red onion rings, bell peppers cut into chunks, zucchini and squash cut into ribbons, mushrooms, etc.
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Toss the vegetables in a bowl with a hefty pour of olive oil and season all over with salt and pepper. Grill both sides until done, but under cook them just slightly so they keep some crunch. Toss them back into the same bowl of olive oil, salt and pepper. Coat with the olive oil mix and serve.

  • Grandma

    Sounds delicious. Years ago, your Dad gave me some fresh-caught striped bass and the recipe for blackening it.
    I know it started with heating the BBQ very high, warming a cast iron skillet until it was white hot; adding a lot of butter; coating the fish with multi-spices…and it was so absolutely delicious! Later we added rice to the left-over buttered spice in the pan. That was great, too.

  • Aunt Terri

    OH do I remember your dad cooking blacken fish one night while I was out there, your mom’s sister Terri was there too. I think he went a little overboard on the seasoning. It was so spicy, mind you NONE of us stopped eating it. Thanks for the seasoning recipe! I am going to have to make this one of these nights. I LOVE grilled anything!!! Hope all is well with you.

  • JDP sr

    YUM!!!! Just back from “the land of everything tastes a little too salty for me except in really fantastic restaurants.” Guess the basis for the palate is cheese and herring.