For weeks, I’ve been steeping myself in the rich, enchanting world of Southern cuisine. With the help of some dog-eared cookbooks borrowed from my gorgeous Mississippian friend, I’ve cooked my way from Meridian to Mobile, New Orleans to Natchez. The dishes are spicy and complex, redolent with intriguing flavors from France, Spain, Africa and India.
I know what you’re thinking…what does the Beverly Hills Farmgirl have in common with gumbo and grits? My next cooking class, actually: Healthy Southern Classics.
If you smell an oxymoron, you’re right. In fact, trying to slim down a decadent cuisine is like sneaking vegetables into ice cream…not a good way to make friends. So rather than interfere with tradition, I managed to dig up some recipes that make the grade on their own.
This spice mix is one of my family’s new favorites. I call it Black Magic, because anything that is such a cinch to make, so packed with flavor and so versatile really is a neat trick. I’ve sprinkled it on salmon, tilapia, snapper and sole, and then seared them to blackened perfection. You could also use it to season potatoes and cauliflower before roasting or in place of salt to season meat, tofu, salads, jambalaya, even guacamole.
Stick to my proportions and you’ll get it right every time. It’s a bit of Southern magic to keep by the stove. Because as one gent from the Bayou said of his beloved belle long ago, “The huggin’ and kissin’ don’t last forever. But the cookin’ do.”
Serves 4 – 6
Black Magic Spice Mix
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (dulce)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
4 to 6 (4-ounce) filets very fresh tilapia, red snapper, sole, or halibut
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (optional)
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for garnish
1. Prepare the Black Magic Spice Mix: In a jar with a lid, shake all the spices together.
2. Prepare the Fish: Place a cast iron skillet over medium high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until very hot. Pat the fish dry and brush with the melted butter if desired. Sprinkle generously with the spice mix.
3. Add the oil to the hot pan and swirl to coat. Carefully add the fish (It may splatter.) and sear for 1-2 minutes until blackened. Using a silicone spatula, gently flip the fish and cook the other side. If the fillets are thick, you may need to transfer them to a 350° F. oven for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking.
4. Serve the fish immediately with lemon wedges.
For more Southern recipes, try my Vegetarian Jambalaya, Whole-Grain Fried Tomatoes, and Dark Chocolate Walnut Bourbon Pie…delish,y’all!
Share your favorite apple recipe in my October Cooking Contest for a chance to win some super handy kitchen swag!
Photo credit: CaptainWoodyGore.com