I have a few confessions to make: 1) I made this recipe with frozen salmon fillets instead of fresh because I wanted to use them up. 2) I didn’t have any onion powder or garlic powder around so I just used grill seasoning instead. 3) I’ve never cooked anything Cajun-style before. 4) Despite all the bad omens, this salmon was delicious. I tried out something new and I’m so glad it worked. I looked up some Cajun spice blends online and ended up making my own using the ingredients I had on hand and some innovative thinking. I think the blend came out great and I would definitely make this again. The fish fillets were frozen, so they came out a bit dry. But the good news is that the spice blend formed a crust around the fillets and locked in what little moisture they did have. This was a pretty satisfying dinner with some rice on the side.
Blackened Cajun-Style Salmon
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons grill seasoning (I used Mccormick Grill Mates poultry seasoning – you can use any season that contains garlic powder and/or onion powder)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 to 1 teaspoon salt (adjust amount depending on how salty the grill seasoning is)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
3 salmon fillets (fresh, or thawed from frozen)
High-smoke point oil, such as grapeseed oil, refined corn oil, or sunflower oil
- In a shallow dish, combine all spices. Start with 1/4 teaspoon salt and add more if spice mix isn’t salty enough.
- Put one salmon fillet in the spice mix at a time, making sure to thoroughly coat the entire surface. Let the fillets rest 5-10 minutes to absorb the flavors.
- Heat a heavy frying pan under high heat and let it warm up for several minutes. You want a heavy pan so the spices on the fish don’t burn. You want it to be hot before adding the fish so the spices quickly caramelize and don’t let the oil soak through to the fish.
- Drizzle a thin layer of the oil, then add the fillets to the pan. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillets, but mine cooked for about 3 minutes per side. Let the fish sit in the pan — only flip it once. This gives the heat and spices time to do their work. Serve immediately.
I created my own cajun spice blend using smoked paprika, thyme, oregano, cumin, grill seasoning, salt and pepper.
Make sure to cook the salmon in a heavy pan so the spices don’t burn before they have a chance to caramelize and form a crust on the outside of the fish.
Yum….look at that spice crust on the outside of the fish – it definitely helps seal the moisture inside.