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Blackened is a cooking technique that intentionally coats foods with charred (blackened) spices. Unintentional charring also can blacken a meal, but usually not in a good way. 

Culinary Uses

Blackening was popularized for the mass market in the Cajun cooking of Chef Paul Prudhomme who would dip food in melted butter and then Dredge it in a mixture of seasonings, herbs and spices. Frequently used were/are combinations of Thyme, Chili Pepper, Peppercorns, Salt, Garlic Powder and Onion Powder.  

Once coated, the food would be put onto High Heat (usually in a cast iron skillet or on a cast iron griddle) to “blacken” the spices and the butter’s milk solids. Once a good crust and sear was formed the food, typically fish and other seafood, could be moved to Medium Heat to be Finished Cooked.

Chef Prudhomme was famous for his Blackened Redfish but blackening is versatile and can be used with a variety of proteins (ChickenBeef) and vegetables.

Blackened dishes are both visually appealing (with the well blackened crust) and a textural playground for the palate which jumps between the harder, spicy, herbaceous crust and the softer, flavorful, juicy interior of the cooked foods.