Great Flavors From the Big Easy

Monahan's Seafood Market | Fresh Whole Fish, Fillets, Shellfish, Recipes, Catering & Lunch Counter-Ann Arbor, Michigan
new orleans street musicians-76

New Orleans Street Musicians © Lisa Monahan Photography

We just returned from a wonderful anniversary getaway to one of America’s food meccas, New Orleans! The town that invented jazz has an amazing culinary history that brings flavors from France, Spain, Africa, the West Indies, Sicily, and more recently Vietnam (we enjoyed bahn mi that rivaled the best po’boys). The rich bountiful fresh foods from the sea and land provide local chefs with ingredients that make for some fine dining!

For our first meal in town, we decided to check out K Paul’s Kitchen, Chef Paul Prudhomme’s place. You might assume that the Paul Prudhomme empire of packaged seasonings and cookbooks might have taken something away from the quality of the restaurant. I’m happy to report that K Paul’s still has the cozy feel to it, with a smooth running, spotless open kitchen and the dinner was great!

We started the meal out with a fine turtle soup: peppery and rich with a nice clam like bite of snapping turtle fresh from the swamp. Next up was fresh gulf shrimp rémoulade, sandwiched between corn meal fried green tomatoes. Man that was killer! For the main course we had to try Paul Prudhomme’s most famous dish, blackened drum. His original recipe used red drum (or redfish) and it became so popular all over the country that redfish was actually overfished and still is heavily regulated. Black Drum was served instead and they topped it with big chunks of lump crab meat- oh yea! Paul’s original blackening recipe involved basting the fillet in butter, coating it with his own “Cajun Magic”, a blend of paprika, cayenne and other spices, heating an iron skillet to almost white hot and searing the fish. This method seared in the moisture of the fillet while giving it a spicy, flavorful, “blackened” look.

Returning home to the fish market, still reeling from the NOLA sensory explosion, I was amazed to see that fishmonger Mike Schwartz had just made up a batch of lump crab rémoulade! What a pleasant surprise! I thought to myself, a dollop of that would be great on top of a nice blackened fish fillet. Because of the spicy flavor of the seasoning, the fish has to be fairly meaty, like redfish, or fuller flavored like salmon or bluefish. We happened to have some nice chum salmon from British Columbia that would work just fine. Just then my childhood chum, Lincoln Lee, came up to the counter looking for lunch and I said, “Linc, I have a little treat for ya”. His eyes lit up with the first bite and the next day’s lunch special was blackened wild B.C. chum salmon with lump crab rémoulade (also today’s fish report recipe).

Here are our own Cajun seasoning and rémoulade recipes or you can purchase both at the market. The original blackened fish recipe in a white-hot skillet produces a cloud of smoke that would be too much for the average home oven hood. Our pan-seared method works well with much less smoke. This weekend we’ll offer both lump crab and fresh picked Jonah crabmeat. Either one would be marvelous!

Monahan's Seafood

One Response to “Great Flavors From the Big Easy

  • Tom Wise
    10 years ago

    Hey Michael,
    Next time you and Lisa go to NOLA, Jay and I want to come with you!
    The Wiseman

Leave a Reply to Tom Wise Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *