Weeknight dinner rush at home; there was nothing remotely resembling a meal idea on the menu and bedtime was arriving at a clip. Once again my lack of planning and forethought in the kitchen had caught up with me and I was riding the crazy train of utter chaos and total hair-tearing bedlam over what to do.
Worse, it looked like I was going to be tug-of-warred between dinner prep and not missing out on a pivotal moment when Desperate Housewives’ suburban stud, Mike was finally recovering from a near-total memory loss to identify his attacker.
So naturally it had to be something that would not require constant baby-sitting or require me to sacrifice the taste from even a single bite. That was quite a tall order on a miniscule time frame and I was desperate!
Then my eyes fell on the catch of the day and the answer to my dilemma – six plumply glistening, whole ocean fresh pink fish that still smelled of the sea. You’d never have guessed they were caught at our local supermarket. From their pale salmon hue, they could have fallen between Red Mullet or Red Snapper and this recipe will work with either of these two.
Anyway these looked so tantalisingly fleshy that I couldn’t bear the thought of them submerged incognito under gravy, which is the route I usually take when there is a glut of fresh fish at home. So I got out a stoneware casserole dish and turned the oven on. It was going to be baked fish for dinner. And not just a tepid S&P (salt and pepper) treated affair, but Cajun spiced baked fish y’all!
However, I must confess that my only claim to Cajun authenticity comes from a store-bought short-cut and the makers of MasterFoods Cajun seasoning. That along with a dash of onion powder, tonnes of minced garlic, fresh coriander, a squeeze of fresh lemon and paprika were all it took to create this simple, easy, no fuss fish dinner. Those fabulously meaty puppies got a half-hour’s worth of marinating in the rub marinade then it was off to a searing hot oven for the first few minutes. This is important if you want succulently bronzed skin encasing buttery morsels of fish. Anyway, twenty minutes later dinner was served.
Did this meal accomplish what it originally set out to do? Well, let’s see – I was able to keep dinner time curfew with a bomb-diggity meal of plate licking proportions and didn’t have to miss the housewife drama on Wisteria lane. So, hell yeah!
What surprised me about this dish is that it has just has three main flavouring ingredients – the Cajun spice mix, the garlic and lemon juice. You can easily omit the coriander and paprika – they exist chiefly to punch up visual appeal by adding colour. As for the onion powder, I had a new bottle and had to break it in, but you can leave it out. Other than that you’ve got yourself another great meal and a soon-to-be family favourite, hopefully. With that, I will leave you to get cooking!
These are for six whole fish out of which I used three
1 ½ Tablespoon of Cajun spice mix
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp of salt
The zest and juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon of paprika
7 cloves of garlic, grated
About a fistful of chopped coriander
- Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius
- Make a paste of the above and smear it generously all over the fish
- Set aside for 20 minutes
- Coat a casserole dish with a thin film of olive oil or ordinary vegetable oil
- Place prepared fish in it and transfer to oven
- Bake at 220 for an initial 7 to 10 minutes or till you see the skin begin to turn bronzed and glossy
- Reduce oven temperature to 180 degrees C and bake for a further 18 minutes or till fish flakes easily with a fork