PSA: Blackened is not the same as charred!
The process of charring utilizes high heat to darken and crisp the exterior of the food so as to add texture and smoky flavor. Blackening, on the other hand, relies on a mixture of spices to add flavor and color to the food as it cooks. Blackened seasoning is often sold pre-mixed and ready to go, but truthfully, it’s quite easy to make your own mix and you likely already have all of the major players in your spice cabinet.
Since you’ll already have a hot skillet from cooking your blackened grouper, blistered cherry tomatoes are the perfect side dish to whip up in the 5 minutes while your fish rests before serving. Fresh yet smoky and naturally acidic, tomatoes are a great complement to this buttery and rich blackened grouper!
Recipe for Blackened Grouper and Blistered Cherry Tomatoes
For the Grouper:
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) butter, melted
- 2 pounds skinless grouper fillet
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)
For the Blistered Cherry Tomatoes:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups whole cherry tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon leaves, plus more for garnish
- salt, to taste
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, oregano, thyme, and parsley. Stir until well mixed and set aside.
- Pour the melted butter over the grouper, flipping the fillet to coat both sides evenly. Sprinkle with the seasoning mix, pressing gently to adhere the spices to the melted butter.
- Heat the neutral oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the grouper and cook, undisturbed, until a crisp golden-brown crust develops, about 3 minutes. Flip the fillet and continue cooking until the fish is nearly opaque and flakes easily when pressed with a fork, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer the blackened grouper to a platter and allow it to rest while you make the blistered cherry tomatoes.
- Drain any excess or dark oil from the skillet, then add the olive oil and place the skillet over high heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook, shaking the pan often, until the cherry tomatoes begin to char and blister, about 5 minutes. Some of the skins may crack or burst open and the tomatoes should appear somewhat collapsed. Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle with the chopped tarragon and salt and black pepper to taste.
- Divide the blistered cherry tomatoes between serving plates and top each with a portion of blackened grouper. Garnish with a bit of fresh tarragon and serve!