Cajun seasoning is essentially a mixture of all the spices that make up the robust flavor that have come to be associated with the Cajun cuisine. This Southern Louisiana culinary style and dish preparation is often times confused with Creole, and more recently just all clumped into one big category of “Louisiana cooking”. The truth of the matter, however, is that Cajun cooking is it’s own very unique style that employs exotic flavor combinations and delicious cooking methods to create mouth watering dishes in a edible class all of their own –but how could a cooking style developed in southern Louisiana differ so much from the surrounding culinary habits and traditions? Well there is a bit of a story involved.
It all started in 1775 when the Arcadian (French decedents) people who were living in Canada got the boot from the British. For whatever reason, at the time the British decided that Canada was more desirable, so they sent these refugees down to Louisiana. Upon arrival the Arcadians were a bit shell shocked by the extreme climate change, and realized that the foods they were used to eating were no longer available. However, instead of just rolling over, these culinary badasses embraced the challenge and took up creating their own unique rustic cuisine based on the areas unique local supply of edible goodies. The result of this epic edible quest resulted in a fusion food, mixing Arcadian preparation styles (which were already a fusion of French preparation styles) with Creole ingredients… forming the now famous robustly delicious dishes that we know today as Cajun food.
The traditional flavor of Cajun dishes all started with the “Holy Trinity” which is a combination of finely chopped peppers, onions, and celery sautéed in fat –or the “Holy Trinity and the Pope”, which adds garlic. Overtime more flavors were added to the mix, and eventually a dried and ground version came about to allow for Cajun flavors to be added with a simple pinch.
Using Cajun spice at home is extremely flexible, and most people find that it melds well into the majority of savory dishes. A more traditional approach would be to use it in gumbos or jambalayas, but really any soup or stew would benefit from this powerhouse of flavor. Another option is to “blacken” fish or meat by rubbing it with oil and Cajun spice and pan-frying it. Really the spice mix is a beautiful medley of all the concentrated flavors that make food worth cooking –and for that reason, is extremely hard to use incorrectly.
If you’re the creative type I encourage you to embrace the blends flexibility by mixing a pinch in with your own favorite dish to give it a Cajun kick –“Cajun style mac & cheese” …perhaps? On the other hand -if your more of a culinary purist-try turning your boring side of rice into a pot of gumbo -with a fat pinch of this spice mix to give it that pungent spicy taste!