Yankees (a group that, due to my Southern upbringing, includes everyone north of Kentucky and west of Arkansas) typically don't understand that there are lots of different kinds of Southern cooking. For instance, I love Louisiana cuisine, but I've never been there, and it's not a strong part of my local culinary tradition. I appreciate the difference between Cajun and Creole even if I don't often cook much of either style. But I got a hankerin'* the other day for blackened fish...
I took things back to basics with the original Paul Prudhomme recipe. I consulted the 1982 New York Times article, as this was faster than digging up the family's first edition of Prudhomme's cookbook. Again, I feel the need to clarify for the sake of Yankee readers: blackened ain't burnt, it's merely seared at high heat.
The cooking method is pretty simple: heat a cast iron skillet to hellish temperatures, slop the filets through some melted butter, coat with spice mix, and throw in the skillet. Flip once, pull out before it's burned. If you're using filets that are thicker in the middle (like the grouper I had), you may want to transfer them to a warming sheet in the oven for ten minutes or so. For the sides I prepared some speckled butter beans and turnip greens, the latter of which benefitted from some pepper vinegar.
This is the kind of meal that would traditionally be paired with sweet tea or a really cold beer, but I felt it was appropriate to slingshot over to the other end of the country and pick an Oregon white. The 2007 King Estate Signature Pinot Gris is $17, 13% abv. Overall profile of Golden Delicious apples, with hints of lime and a full body. Stronger acidity than one would expect from a Pinot Gris. Wines like this are making me want to move to Oregon, home of a few of my ancestors.
The crisp acidity of the wine matched up beautifully with the buttery flavors of the wine and fish, and the Pinot Gris was strong enough to stand up to the peppers in the blackening spice and the vinegar. Oregon Pinot Gris might not work with every N'Awlins recipe, but I was quite happy with the experiment.
*hankerin': abbreviation of HANK•er•ing, colloquial term for craving or longing from the Dutch hankeren. My own favorite usage is related to someone or something that inspires such a craving. For instance, reading Peter Mayle's A Year In Provence could trigger a desire for roast lamb. I might then remark, "That book done flung a hankerin' on me for some gigot d'agneau."