The Unorthodox Epicure — Blackened Fish w/ Mango Salsa

Confession: My first experience with blackened fish left a bitter taste in my mouth for a very long time. Too long, in fact.

I might’ve been 13 or 14 when my father decided he’d try his hand at the popular Chef Paul Prudhomme brainchild. He cleaned the fish (you couldn’t buy catfish fillets back then at the grocery store), mixed up his spices and fired up our built-in outdoor grill. The end result resembled an ash-coated version of a Stretch Armstrong toy. I was hardly hooked.

Fortunately, I’m all for second chances.

When cooked properly, blackened fish fillets offer a flaky smoky bite. The key is to have your pan hot — not iron-melting hot — and to have the right combination of spices. While catfish works, a thicker meatier fillet such as red snapper seems to hold up better.  The following recipe is mainly a technique. If you’re thinking about using commercially available blackening seasoning, please reconsider. Many of them contain a lot of salt and MSG. Ocean fish is inherently salty (you can salt at the table if need be). And MSG? Why? — The Mango Salsa is just as basic recipe that contrasts very nicely with the bold fish. Feel free to add some avocado chunks.

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Blackened Fish w/ Mango Salsa

Blackened Fish w/ Mango Salsa — An outstanding contrast of flavors


Blackened Fish w/ Mango Salsa
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4-6 Servings
Mango Salsa ingredients
  • 1 – Ripe Mango, cubed
  • ¼ cup – Purple onion, diced
  • ¼ cup – Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 – Jalapeno pepper (optional), minced
  • Juice of one lime
Blackening Seasoning ingredients
  • 2 TB – Paprika
  • 2 tsp – Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp – Onion powder
  • 1 tsp – Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp – White pepper
  • 1 tsp – Black pepper
  • 1 tsp – Ancho chile powder
  • ½ tsp – Cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp – Dried Oregano
  • ½ tsp – Dried Thyme
  • 6 – Firm-fleshed fish fillets (red snapper, cod, mullet, mahi mahi), about ½-inch thick
  • Vegetable oil
Make the Mango Salsa
  1. Combine all ingredients between 30 minutes and 1 hour before serving.
Make the Blackening Seasoning & Fish
  1. Combine first 10 ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Pat fish dry with a paper towel. Coat all sides liberally with spice mixture.
  3. Heat a skillet (cast iron works best) to medium-high. It should be lightly smoking. Add about 2 TB vegetable per batch (2-3 fillets); carefully place fillets in pan and cook about 3-4 minutes, turning once or twice.
  4. Repeat with remaining fillets, wiping the pan with a paper towel and adding new oil between batches.
  5. Serve over Mango Salsa.
**Want to test the effectiveness of your stove's hood vent? This is the recipe to do it. If you can make this without setting off smoke alarms, your hood vent is good to go. Otherwise, you might want to consider preparing this dish outdoors on a portable burner or on a hot grill (you still use the pan on the grill).



  1. I love my cajun flavours, so this recipe is just ideal for me to make. Looks so spiced & delicious!

  2. Thanks for the smoke alarm warning – sounds like this one might need to wait for just a little bit for me. Love that mango salsa. I’d never made anything with mango before until my daughter & I concocted a mango chicken which was awesome. Now, I can use any new ideas for mango because it’s just so good.

    • adamjholland says:

      Don’t you have a brand new kitchen, Diane?

      • Yes I do have everything brand spanking new including a major hood vent but I’m not sure I want to test that out in case I set off the alarms. Only way to clear the alarms is to open the windows & swat away at the alarm with a towel. It’s a little chilly to be opening windows – just in case.
        But we’ve got another major storm coming tonight so that should be fun 🙁 Of all the storms this one might test out our new generator since it’s going to be snow, rain, sleet & flooding.

  3. First, I love blackened fish. I don’t think I’ve ever had bad blackened fish, but I can imagine! We actually had it once at Paul Prudhomme’s while drinking some spicy drink out of a canning jar. I’m sure that’s where that fad got started! And mango salsa? No one can go wrong with mangoes! I love them!

  4. It’s a beautiful dish and sounds wonderful……….but now I can’t get a burnt Stretch out of my mind! 🙂

  5. The first time I ever had “blackened” was in a restaurant with a similar experience. I wouldn’t order it again for years. :/ Mango salsa is such a great choice for a done right blacked fish!


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