Meals cooked over an open fire taste, beyond a doubt, better than the same meals cooked at home. That goes for a fresh fish shore lunch cooked on the beach or bank. The only equipment you need is a Lodge Cast-Iron skillet and a good spatula.
You can tote a box full of stuff like oil and cornmeal to bread and fry your fish, or you can take along a stick of butter and a little blackening spice. I’m a fan of the latter, particularly if I’m fishing around the Gulf Coast and catch a keeper redfish.
There is a reason Chef Paul chose the redfish to make blackening famous; the firm texture and mild flavor of the fish is perfect for a quick sear on a hot iron skillet. Simply build a fire, dip the fish in melted butter, dredge in the blackening seasoning, and drop onto a screaming-hot, cast-iron skillet nestled into the coals of a campfire.
Don’t have a redfish handy? Use any firm, white flaky fish. The results will still be outstanding. Need to melt your butter? Place it into a lidded plastic container and nestle it into the sand warmed by either the sun or your campfire. It will be melted in no time.
2 to 3 pounds redfish fillets
1 stick of butter, melted
Blackening seasoning mix, based on Chef Paul’s recipe (blend in bowl)
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
5 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons cayenne
1.5 teaspoons white pepper
1.5 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Blend the seasoning before leaving home and store it in a plastic container wide enough to dip your fish into. Cover the container with a tight-fitting lid and store it in your cooler until you are ready to prepare the fish.
Start by filleting your fish and getting it chilled on ice. Build a campfire and allow it to burn down to a nice bed of coals. Rest your skillet directly in the coals and allow the pan to heat completely. It is ready when a drop of water onto the skillet's surface instantly sizzles and disappears.
Once your skillet is up to temperature, dip each fillet first into melted butter, then into the blackening seasoning. Cover both sides of the fillet with seasoning. Drop the fish directly onto the hot surface of the dry pan. You don’t need any oil in the pan for this cooking method. The combination of the hot surface, the butter on the fillets and the blackening spice will prevent the fish from sticking to the pan.
Cook the fillets for 3 to 5 minutes per side, flipping once.
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