Chef Paul Prudhomme & Cajun Baked Redfish

Legendary Louisiana Chef Paul Prudhomme passed away this week. His funeral was yesterday (Monday). Prudhomme is best known for his Blackened Redfish dish and popularizing Cajun cooking. I had the chance opportunity to cook a redfish fillet this weekend with fish my daughter-in-law’s family caught. I used Chef Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend. Louisiana Redfish catch at Lake Pontchartrain - 20151011_112646You can tell this is a redfish by the dot on it’s tail. My daughter-in-law came to town and her family went fishing this past weekend out of Lake Pontchartrain. It was a successful day; they caught redfish and drum. Here is the proud fisherman who caught the redfish and his grandfather.Dylan and Grandfather with Redfish catch - 20151011_112705

Chef Paul Prudhomme

We will miss Chef Paul Prudhomme with his laugh and deep, booming voice. His popularization of Cajun cuisine has made a lasting impact on the rest of the world.

Prudhomme was executive chef at Commander’s Palace for several years in the 1970’s. He and his wife opened their own restaurant, K-Paul’s, on Chartres Street in 1979. The restaurant soon became popular with locals and tourists with perpetual long lines; no reservations. His food was delicious. (And rich–in butter and cream!) We watched as Prudhomme exported his Cajun food to New York City and other places around the world. Everybody loved the often highly seasoned food.Paul Prudhommes Seasonings - IMG_4883_1Blackened Redfish exploded on the scene in the 1980’s. Redfish is a mild, flaky and almost sweet fish. It melts in your mouth; it doesn’t have a “fishy” taste. Prudhomme prepared “Blackened Redfish” by sauteing the fillets in an extremely hot skillet with his seasoning mix. The preparation is irresistible.

The redfish dish was so popular and fishing was so extensive that soon restrictions were placed on commercial fishing to prevent the fish from becoming extinct. It became almost impossible to purchase redfish commercially or find the fish on restaurant menus. Redfish are still around. Sport fishermen, such as my daughter-in-law’s family, can catch them with a license and limits. And there are many other varieties of fish to be found on restaurant menus.

Cajun Baked Redfish

Paul Prudhomme successfully marketed a line of Blackened Seasoning Magic blends which are quite tasty; I use them on fish, shrimp, chicken, pork chops. Prudhomme’s WEB site claims that the seasonings can be found in all 50 states–I found them in a grocery store in Rochester, New York. I used one of the blends to prepare the redfish dish this weekend.

Although the traditional way to prepare the blackened redfish dish is to saute the fillets in a hot — 600 degree — skillet, baking the fish in the oven or grilling on an outside grill works just as well. This dish is extremely easy and quick to prepare.Cajun Baked Redfish Ingredients - IMG_4886_1

To prepare the recipe, heat the oven to a moderately hot temperature, 375 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the fillets on the baking sheet. Sprinkle a very generous amount of Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend on the fillets. Douse on some white cooking wine and lemon juice. For this preparation I had “lite” margarine on hand. Dot the margarine on the fish. While it appears like alot of margarine some does not adhere to the fish while baking. (You really can’t melt “lite” margarine, it turns to water.)Filets ready for baking - IMG_4893_1

Alternately, melt real butter (I like this the best when cooking with fish) or regular margarine for a few seconds in a microwave. Mix in the white cooking wine and lemon juice. Baste onto the fish and then sprinkle generously with the Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the fish just flakes. Don’t overcook or the fish will dry out. Here’s the baked fish.Cajun Baked Redfish on baking sheet - IMG_4894Serve with any accompaniment such as fresh steamed vegetables; potato salad — here’s a stuffed baked potato.Cajun Baked Redfish - IMG_4911_1

If you’ve never cared for fish–you’ll like it prepared in this manner.

Fishing at Lake Pontchartrain

Now to catch a fish…..Parts of southeastern Louisiana are on the water and canals of Lake Pontchartrain. This past weekend my daughter-in-law visited her parents in Slidell, Louisiana, which is east of New Orleans very close to the Mississippi border. Their home is on an inlet from the lake and backs up to a canal. Their fishing boat is moored in their backyard! Here’s Dylan fishing from the dock. What a great life!Dylan Fishing off Dock - 20151011_132037The family likes to fish and this was an expedition to take the young grandson, Dylan, along. You need an early morning start to go fishing as this is when the fish feed. Here the group is close to the entrance to Lake Pontchartrain fishing under a railroad bridge which transverses the lake. Many times the family will continue out the Rigolets Pass and into Lake Borgne close to the sound of the Gulf of Mexico by the Mississippi Border.Dylan and Grandmother fishing at railroad bridge - 20151011_090630

It was a successful day. One redfish and lots of drum. Kristy-Catch if Drum and one Redfish - 20151011_132501This past summer’s fishing expedition was successful, too. Here’a larger fish which Cameron, the older grandson, caught.

Cameron and Grandfather with redfish catch - 20150607_090350Fishing is the fun part. Filleting the fish and getting them ready for cooking or freezing is more tedious. The grandparents did this job; they gave me the redfish fillets.Redfish Filets - IMG_4892_1

Substitutes for Redfish or Red Drum

Redfish or red drum is found in the coastal regions and marshes of Louisiana. It is a saltwater fish and can be fished year around. If you visit Louisiana, a guide service can be hired to take you fishing in the marshes and Gulf of Mexico. Many of these services are located west of New Orleans in Houma and the Grand Isle area. It is an interesting experience; you are in another world.

Redfish is hard to find; there are many substitutes available in grocery store freezers. Any flaky, lean white fish can be used such as tilapia, catfish, orange roughy, speckled trout, black drum and mahi mahi. We have lots of catfish here — both farm raised and wild. I’ve learned to like catfish and use it frequently.

Guidry's Catfish - IMG_4913

Fish – Low Fat Protein

And fish, such as redfish, is very low in fat; a heart healthy menu usually includes generous servings of fish. Breading and deep frying fish defeats the purpose of keeping the fat content low. This baked fish is a healthy preparation.

Cajun Baked Redfish by Maylee Samuels

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 six-ounce fresh redfish fillets
  • 1 Tbsp butter or margarine or “lite” margarine–do not melt
  • 1 tsp white cooking wine
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend
  • fresh parsley for garnish

Method and Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Place the redfish fillets on the baking sheet.
  3. Melt the butter or margarine in a small bowl (I used a microwave for about 15 seconds) and mix in the white cooking wine and lemon juice. Baste this over the redfish fillets.
  4. Generously sprinkle the Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend over the redfish fillets.
  5. Alternatively, sprinkle the Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend over the redfish first. Then douse on the white cooking wine and lemon juice. Lastly dot on “lite” margarine.
  6. Bake in 375 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes until fish flakes.
  7. Move to serving platter, garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with potato salad, stuffed baked potato or steamed vegetables.

Addendum, And More….   Purchasing Fish and Cajun Baked Catfish Recipe

Fresh fish is the best but it is perishable and needs to be cooked or frozen quickly. When purchasing fish, I’m always reluctant when I see defrosted fish in the market. I don’t hesitate to have a conversation with the grocer to find out the real story on the fish he’s selling. In Louisiana, it is possible to purchase really fresh shrimp or seafood. However, many times the fish in the display counter is defrosted from frozen catch. My preference is to purchase frozen IQF (Individual quick frozen) fish fillets. They are easy to defrost since they are individually frozen; usually good quality. Here are IQF catfish fillets.Frozen Catfish Fillets - IMG_4914

Remake with Catfish: Cajun Baked Catfish

I had one chance making the recipe with redfish fillets. So I prepared the recipe again with catfish fillets to check the ingredient porportions. These were small fillets, about 2.4 oz each or 6 to a pound. A typical fillet is 3 – 5 oz and one that you might find is a restaurant is 5 – 7 oz. Here are the fillets on the baking sheet with the seasonings and margarine ready for baking.Catfish Fillets on Baking Sheet ready for baking - IMG_4917Here’s the recipe re-proportioned for the catfish.

Cajun Baked Catfish by Maylee Samuels

  • Servings: 3
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb frozen IQF catfish fillets
  • 2 Tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 Tbsp white cooking wine
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend
  • fresh parsley for garnish

Method and Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Defrost catfish fillets under cool running water. This won’t take long.
  3. Place the catfish fillets on the baking sheet.
  4. Melt the butter or margarine in a small bowl (I used a microwave for about 15 seconds) and mix in the white cooking wine and lemon juice. Baste this over the catfish fillets.
  5. Generously sprinkle the Blackened Redfish Magic Seasoning Blend over the catfish fillets.
  6. Bake in 375 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes until fish flakes.
  7. Move to serving platter, garnish with fresh parsley. Serve with potato salad, stuffed baked potato or steamed vegetables.

Here are the Cajun Baked Catfish Fillets with a stuffed baked potato. Enjoy!Cajun Baked Catfish - 2 - IMG_4925

Prudhomme was the youngest of 13 children from a sharecropper family in the rural heart of Cajun country–Opelousas. He learned to cook growing up from his mother and traveled extensively as a young man. Eventually he settled in New Orleans becoming executive chef of the established restaurant, Commanders’s Palace, and then opened his own restaurant–K-Pauls. He introduced the world to Cajun cooking; what an impact he has made.

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