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Originally published Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 7:01 PM

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Recipes: Cajun-Bronzed Mahi Mahi and Rice and Spinach Pilaf

New Orleans Chef Paul Prudhomme tells home cooks to bronze not blacken fish. Try the technique out with this recipe for Cajun-Bronzed Mahi Mahi.

McClatchy Newspapers

"My advice to people at home is bronzing rather that blackening," says Chef Paul Prudhomme. "This avoids the smoke and the risk of handling a red-hot skillet while still achieving an excellent result."

Prudhomme, one of America's favorite chefs and considered the father of blackened redfish, gave me this advice during a recent interview. According to Prudhomme, to make blackened fish, the skillet needs to be red hot and causes a lot of smoke in the kitchen. It's best done outdoors.

This bronzed mahi mahi can cook indoors without smoke and keeps the fish moist. The secret is to keep the skillet at the right temperature. The fish should take 7 to 8 minutes to cook. If it takes much longer, the skillet is not hot enough.

Use the Cajun spice mixture given in the recipe or use 1 tablespoon prepared Cajun spice seasoning mix.

The rice and spinach pilaf recipe is easy to make and takes under 20 minutes to cook. You can use quick cooking rice instead and stir the spinach into the rice as soon as the rice is cooked.

Wine suggestion: This dish, which is spicy flavorful though not spicy hot, would be wonderful with a rich, white viognier.

This meal contains 450 calories per serving with 26 percent of calories from fat.

Helpful Hints:

Any type of firm fish such as grouper, farmed tilapia or catfish can be used.

An electric frying pan can be used instead of a skillet. Keep the temperature at 350 degrees.

Cajun spice mixes can be found in the spice section of the supermarket.

Cajun-Bronzed Mahi Mahi

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Makes 2 servings

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

3/4 pound mahi mahi fillet

1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Mix cayenne pepper, garlic powder, oregano and thyme together. Spoon half of spice mixture onto one side of the fish, pressing it into the flesh. Heat a skillet over high heat and add the oil. When it is very hot, add the mahi mahi, seasoned side down. Spread remaining spice mixture over top of the fish. Cook until the underside is bronze in color, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Cook second side 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked through. The fish is ready when a knife inserted into the flesh shows opaque rather than translucent meat. Rice and Spinach Pilaf

Makes 2 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup long-grain white rice

1 cup low-salt tomato juice

1 cup water

3 cups washed, ready-to-eat spinach

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

2. Add rice and saute 1 minute. Add tomato juice and water. Bring to a simmer, lower heat, cover and gently simmer 15 minutes. If pan becomes dry, add a little more water. Stir in the spinach. It will wilt in the heat of the rice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

(Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 14 cookbooks including her newest, "Mix 'n Match Meals in Minutes for People with Diabetes," and "Prevention's Fit and Fast Meals in Minutes.")

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