Cajun Fish with Lemon Caper Sauce
Does your spice drawer look anything like mine? It’s not pretty. Sure, plenty of good stuff makes its home there — coriander and cumin, black peppercorns, cinnamon and ginger. These are the staples of my cooking. I use them weekly, if not daily, and replace them often, relying mostly on the bulk spice section of a local market where turnover is high, and so the spices taste like spices.
But others lurk. The forgotten ones. The tablespoon of black sesame seeds stuck in the back corner for what, five years now? The dried kaffir lime leaves I bought on a whim thinking I’d do a deep study of southeast Asian cooking. The vanilla bean now so crisp and dry, it could function as a coffee stirrer.
I’m loathe to give them up; they were expensive and represent a sort of hope for the kind of cook I want to be. But it’s time to let them go. Spices don’t last forever. In fact, most lose their aromatic quality one to three years from purchase.
I did find one forgotten gem in my spice drawer: an unopened, untouched jar of Cajun spices that still had plenty of kick. Rather than toss it or tuck it away yet again, I decided to put it to work in this fish recipe. It’s a dish I made all summer long, dredging fish fillets in flour, browning them in a pan, and serving them with a creamy caper and herb yogurt sauce. It was among the “best hits” of the season.
So, consider doing as I did, and clean out that spice drawer. Toss what you haven’t laid eyes on in ages, and put a favorite spice mix to work in this recipe. While you’re at it, if you happen to stumble upon some kaffir lime leaves, could you send them to me? I haven’t given up on my deep study of Asian cooking.
Cajun Fish with Creamy Caper Sauce
A simple and light Cajun seasoned fish with a creamy sauce. Easy to make and healthy to eat.
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped capers
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
- Zest from half of 1 large lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free flour if desired)
- 2 tablespoons Cajun spice mix
- 1 1/2 pounds thin, skinless white fish fillets, such as petrale sole, flounder, fluke, perch, or tilapia
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed
For the yogurt sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, capers, chives, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and several cracks with a pepper grinder. Set aside.
For the fish, in a pie plate or cake pan, whisk together the flour, Cajun spice mix, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Wash and dry the fish fillets. Dredge the fillets in the flour mixture, one at a time, coating both sides evenly. Lay flour-dusted fillets in one layer on a piece of parchment until all of the fillets are coated with flour.
Heat the olive oil in a medium to large skillet over medium-high heat. Add as many of the fish fillets as will fit with a bit of room in between. You don't want to crowd the pan. Cook until the exterior of the fish is golden brown and it's cooked through in the center, about 2 minutes per side. You can tell a fish is cooked when the flesh is opaque and it parts easily when you insert a paring knife in the center.
Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the sauce on the side.