What are Cajun Spices?

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Originating in Louisiana, Cajun dishes feature a country style, such as jambalaya -- a blend of rice, seafood, chicken and vegetables -- or crawfish etouffee -- a stew of crawfish tails, tomatoes and cream. While often thought of as hot and spicy, Cajun cooking emphasizes flavor -- layering spices to create a subtle heat that doesn't overwhelm the palate. Most Cajun dishes use a standard mix of spices, but the ratio may change depending on the cook.

What's In It?

  • Pre-made Cajun spice mixes are available in the spice section of most stores, but you can put together your own. A typical one includes liberal amounts of kosher salt, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, sweet paprika, dried oregano, dried thyme, ground black pepper and onion powder. In some recipes, chili powder, dried sweet basil and crumbled bay leaf may be included. Commercial seasonings may add monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer. Some people are sensitive to monosodium glutamate, though, so leaving it out of your homemade spice mix eliminates the risk of exposure.

Using the Mix

  • Rub Cajun spice mix on meats or poultry before grilling. Sprinkle it generously over white fish before searing in a hot pan to create a blackened crust. Add the mix to soups, stews and gumbo. Some people even stir Cajun spice mix into a bloody mary, toss it with popcorn or scramble it into eggs.

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