How can you tell if it’s traditional Cajun seasoning? Well, aside from the fact that your taste buds won’t lie, traditional Cajun seasoning doesn’t come in mini McCormick bottles. It’s got to come from and be made in authentic and downhome source—Louisiana, New Orleans, or bust. The best of the lot is traditional Cajun seasoning made from spices mixed with salt. The combination of these will bring out the flavor in every recipe and leave you, as the song goes “feeling hot, hot, hot,” without scalding your tongue. Yes, you got it right. Traditional Cajun seasonings will heighten your palate by way of flavor not by burning a hole in your tongue.
Here’s how to buy traditional Cajun seasoning:
1. Stock up on the raw basics: Cayenne pepper, black pepper, Jalapeno pepper, onion, garlic, chili, parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, bay leaf, salt, white/black pepper, lemon pepper, saffron, paprika, and umami aka Monosodium Glutamate. These ingredients are your first step to making traditional Cajun seasoning. There’s even no recipe for it. Just simply blend these together and it’s done! However, a caveat please: some people may develop a reaction to umami so do your research before adding this to the Cajun seasoning mix.
2. Stock up on bottled or packaged basics: http://cajungoods.com/cajun-seasonings-a-breakdown rates the following as the best brands when it comes to Cajun seasoning:
- Tony Chachere’s – Famously craved by people who want a Creole/Cajun combo that go well with almost any kind of food.
- Tabasco – “Pass the Tabasco, please.” The world knows it by its brand name and colors Green and Red long-necked bottles.
- Zatarain’s – This brand has reached iconic stature in New Orleans. One taste of it and you will know why. It’s beyond wonderful!
- Slap Ya Mama – Don’t let the silly name mislead you. This brand is catching up in terms of popularity in the Louisiana market. This is one brand that truly defines “sizzle.”
3. Try your local deli or Whole Foods market. Go through the Cajun spice rack and ask for assistance about the spices that mesh well and have the most flavor and “kick.”
4. Take a look at what’s on Yahoo Shopping. There are a number of Cajun seasonings that are being sold that’s meat and seafood specific. There’s a Cajun seasoning blend for Beef Jerky and a Seafood-lovers’ set.
5. Farms that double as fine-dining family restaurants are also one of the best places to buy traditional Cajun seasoning. You know why? Because when you sample the dishes and ask about the sauces and seasonings, you are sure to receive a basic lesson on how these were created as well as an invitation to buy any one of their freshly-made and freshly-bottled Cajun products.
6. Consider buying Roux. Roux is an underrated Cajun spice and as such, has still to gain the vociferous popularity of the rest of the Cajun family but its slowly getting noticed as evidenced by its appearance on select supermarket chains.
7. On weekends, go on a Cajun spice shopping spree courtesy of the occasional food fair that often hold food competitions. Food fairs open only on weekends and features a wide variety of specialty foods, sauces, and seasonings. Check your local listing for schedules and dates in your area.
Homemade traditional Cajun seasonings last long when kept in air-tight glass containers and stored in a cool place.