The Cajun Seasoning journey and how to use cajun spices
In Asia we don’t often hear, or see much of American spice blends, perhaps due to the difference in tastebuds, or simply that nobody has tried as yet. Well, we couldn’t stop ourselves from exploring one of the US’s most famous seasonings: Cajun Seasoning, also known as Creole Seasoning / Spices. A good Cajun mix is extremely versatile, but very aggressively spiced and needs to be used with moderation. Yet we find that there are many different variations. Some call for cumin, some ignore it altogether, some are more aggressive on the chillies, and some are stronger with garlic and onions flavours. A few of them also have added salt in them.
We quickly concluded that adding salt was only to lower the cost of spices. Salt costs far, far less than the spices inside. Even our own Pink Himalayan Salt is 2-10 times cheaper than all of the ingredients inside.
We found a few things in common however, chillies, garlic, pepper, thyme and oregano commonly feature in all versions. With this in mind, and with the general flavour profile, we set to work on developing our Regency recipe.
Some further research into Cajun cuisine itself revealed that the style of cooking is named for the French-speaking Acadian people deported by the British from Acadia in Canada to the Acadiana region of Louisiana. It’s rustic, and down to earth with simple, locally available ingredients. This could also explain the variance in ingredients for the blends. Chicken, shrimps and pork sausage are staple meats used in a variety of dishes. Cajun cooking methods are also focussed on high heat cooking: barbecuing, grilling, baking, deep frying and smothering are the most common. So our cajun seasoning must be geared towards this type of intense cooking.
Above – our first attempt already looking very promising. We put together a good blend of Yidu and Tianjin Chillies, Thyme, Oregano, Peppers, Garlic, Onion and Paprika. Simple ingredients, with a good ratio, and the blend was already smelling and tasting great. We even had people from other floors on the building comment that they could smell our blend from 5 floors down. But our master blenders weren’t happy with the taste yet. It didn’t taste as smokey as it could (based on what we thought was possible), and lacked the Regency touch So we took it a step further – new additions included Long Pepper, Dried Limes, Green Peppers, Kashmiri Chillies and tweaking the ratios slightly, and there it was, even with the unorthodox additions. The smokey flavour we were after, with a fantastic colour, slight sourness. It’s strong, spicy, and not for the faint-hearted.
We found the taste worked best through the coarse blend of spices. These are great for that traditional Cajun cooking methods, as they can be rubbed onto the meats getting them ready for deep frying, smothering, baking and barbecuing. The green peppers, long peppers, paprika and dried lime also infused a lovely smoky flavour into our seasoning. Best of all – no salt used! It tasted fine by itself, but we do suggest adding salt to your taste. Our Himalayan Pink Salt pairs well, and ordinary cooking salt is also good.
Using it is incredibly simple – take a quarter teaspoon, mix with a tablespoon of oil and rub it directly onto your meat, fish or chicken. Mixing with oil helps with the marinading here, but is optional. You can also add a pinch of salt here, but this is entirely optional, as our heavy seasoning will contribute to the flavour with or without salt. Works best with all kinds of meats, seafoods.
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