For this installment of Cook Your Catch, we explore some traditional Louisiana cuisine by taking a look at how one famous Cajun chef approaches these bold flavors, both by honoring tradition and by putting his own spin on things. We’ll include the ingredients Chef Cody Carroll uses in his dishes so you, too, can have fun bringing a little Cajun character into your own kitchen.
But first, a little background into the origins of this vibrant cuisine, which is synonymous with the Big Easy – New Orleans, Louisiana. Cajun cuisine, known for its spicy flavors and complexities, is a style of cooking that developed in the southern United States. Started by Acadian immigrants (descendants of the French who originally settled in eastern Canada’s Maritime provinces) who fled Canada in the 18th century, Cajun cuisine gets its inspiration from rural French cooking, emphasizing ingredients that are readily available. These traditional peasant-style recipes are heavily rooted in seafood, including crab, oysters, alligator, crawfish, shrimp and catfish.
Today, Cajun cooking is more popular than ever, and Carroll has helped bring the style even further out into the open. Alongside his wife, Sam, Cody runs an award-winning rustic south Louisiana-style restaurant called Hot Tails, located in New Roads, Louisiana. Together the husband and wife chefs also starred in the show “Cajun Aces” on the Food Network.
In this Mercury Cook Your Catch video, Mercury Pro Team member and host of the Discovery Channel’s “Unchartered Waters” Peter Miller joins Chef Cody as he makes fresh yellowfin tuna sashimi, classic shrimp and grits, and an andouille sausage linguine with a blackened tuna steak.
For the yellowfin tuna sashimi, Chef Cody takes a beautiful fresh-out-of-the-water yellowfin tuna, slices it into strips and then pairs it with cabbage, shaved radish, red and yellow bell peppers, and jalapenos, and tops it with a little soy sauce and some sweet and spicy Tiger Sauce, which is a staple in any respectable Louisiana kitchen.
Next up, the star of Southern traditional cooking – shrimp and grits. This favorite can be enjoyed at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Nice, healthy, large shrimp are sautéed in a pan with Worcestershire sauce, Cajun seasoning, chopped garlic and lemons. Taking Chef Cody’s lead, you’ll want to dish up a generous portion of your flavor-forward shrimp and some of that savory sauce on top of your grits. Make sure you get a little bit of everything in each bite so that you can experience both the comfort and the complexity of this beautiful dish.
Finally, there’s the andouille sausage linguine with blackened tuna. Chef Cody shows how he combines the sliced andouille sausage in a pan with vegetable oil, mushrooms, red and yellow bell peppers, assorted diced hot peppers, garlic, clam juice, heavy cream, creole mustard and some parmesan cheese. Next, he adds the linguine noodles and tops everything with some freshly chopped green onions. At the same time, he’s been working on the tuna – which he’s coated with butter and Cajun seasoning and then flash fried in a pan. Flash frying is a cooking technique in which you fry your food in a pan with oil at a very high temperature for a minimal amount of time. When the tuna steaks are done, they’re plated on top of the andouille sausage linguine, and served with a side of garlic bread. Now that’s what we call scrumptious!
Throughout all of these recipes, you’ll notice an emphasis on fresh, clean, whole ingredients, beginning with what Chef Cody is pulling out of the sea. From there, he creates richness by incorporating butter and cheese and then builds Cajun character into the meal with things like Worcestershire sauce, Tiger Sauce, jalapenos, radishes, cilantro, garlic, lemon, butter, Creole mustard, heavy cream and clam juice.
Now that we’ve shared a little bit about Cajun cooking, maybe you’ll want to try infusing some of these vibrant flavors into your cooking. Or perhaps you’ll even try to recreate the three dishes Chef Cody shared. Whatever you do, just be sure you have plenty of refreshments on hand to cool the fire!