The person who invented blackening is a genius. Rub copious amounts of spice on something and then cook it on a fairly high heat so it not only cooks quickly but the spices form a crust that seals in juices and disguises any imperfections, such as the blahness of chicken and the muddiness of tilapia.* In the end, you’re left with flavor, baby! Genius!
I’ve used blackening hocus pocus on chicken, mahi mahi, salmon, shrimp and tilapia. All are tasty in their own right and truly yummy when served in specific dishes. Blackening tilapia enhances the fish’s inherent flakiness and butteriness and masks the muddiness. The shape of the fillets also works nicely for blackening because the thicker bits remain juicy and buttery while the thinner bits get nice and crusty (great for flavor and texture. Maybe slightly overcooked, but who knows? It’s all covered in flavor, baby!). I like using smaller fillets for this dish because they cook faster and there’s less chance of burning the spices, which throws flavor right out the door (and they go from yum to yuck quickly). The tilapia is best served as a taco because their size fits perfectly in tortillas and the taco accompaniments- salsa, sour cream, avocado, cilantro- are just plain scrumptious with the crusty blackened bits. I love, love serving this dish with Mexican Quinoa. It’s the perfect healthy accompaniment to a rather healthy meal (just forget the fish is fried in butter). But if you’re over the quinoa revolution or want something else, then other great sides include Elote or Elote Casserole, Mexican Rice, Green Rice, or Cilantro Rice, pinto beans or chipotle black beans. Blackened tilapia tacos make a great quick and easy meal-they’re ready in fifteen minutes!
*Technical Food Terms