Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. His poems, essays and photographs have appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate among others.
He is a member of both the National Writers Union, the International Federation of Journalists, and covers San Francisco Health News for Examiner.com.
Blackening is a really fun way to cook fish. Nothing seems to beat the bold flavor that comes from a perfectly seared crust. Blackening fish on a cast-iron skillet creates intense heat and smoke so always work in a well-ventilated kitchen.
The rub in this recipe is one of many variations on a classic Cajun rub and is also perfect for chicken, beef steaks, or even vegetables. You can mix it up by serving different fish; snapper and swordfish would also hold up really well. Serving fish with lemon not only cuts the intense flavor of the spices, but also gives the fish a refreshing bite.
4 firm catfish fillets, 6-8 ounces each
½ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large lemon, cut into 4 wedges
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon ground red pepper
2 teaspoons cracked peppercorns
1 teaspoon coarse salt
Combine all spices to create a rub and spread in a shallow pan. Set aside.
Heat a large cast-iron skillet until very hot, about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and pat dry fish. Generously coat both sides of each steak with oil and lay in the spice mixture. Turn to thoroughly cover both sides.
Place two steaks in the heated skillet over medium-high and drizzle lightly with oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes and turn. Drizzle with a little more oil and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, depending on thickness of fish. Remove cooked fish.
Add additional oil if necessary and repeat with remaining steaks.
Serve with fresh lemon juice, one wedge per steak.