REALITY BITES

Published  February 2018

 

THE GREAT SPICE OFF  

When a recipe calls for “Cajun seasoning,” which one do you use? Are you a diehard Slap Ya’ Mama fan or a Tony’s aficionado? Indeed, what is the difference? I tried all the Creole and Cajun seasoning blends I could find at the grocery store in order to let you know which ones are worthy. Included in each review is the provenance of each spice blend, as well as the serving suggestion on the package. As for my tasting methodology, I first tasted all seasoning blends by themselves and on shrimp. If the initial tasting warranted further investigation, I moved onto  popcorn, then avocado. Prior to this investigation, I was a true seasoning novice. I didn’t know there were some spices labeled “Creole” and some labeled “Cajun”—while they are quite similar, there are some differences (and yes, of course, that does make sense in a historical and sociogeographical context). There was one blend, however, that touted itself as both a Creole and Cajun spice, so it’s in a category unto itself.

CREOLE CAJUN

Cajun Land Creole Cajun Seasoning
(Metairie)
Serving suggestion: “Use instead of salt and pepper.” Tasting note: Surprisingly complex flavor, hints of green onion. Was good on shrimp, and would be a nice addition to a fried batter. 8/10

CAJUN

Buddy’s Cajun Spice
(Thibodaux)
Serving suggestion: “Excellent on barbecue.” Tasting notes: Looks like Tony’s, but not as salty. Quite tasty with notes of mustard and celery. Has a certain sweetness. I think the serving suggestion is correct, and this would be very nice as a barbecue seasoning. Would be nice on ribs, and was excellent on shrimp. Fun and unexpected on avocado. Tied for best of the bunch. 10/10

Cajun Smoke Season-It-All Cajun
(Boutte)
Serving suggestion: N/A Tasting notes: Green hunks of something in the mix; very mild. There was no heat at all, so maybe good for someone who’s just dipping their toe in the lake of Cajun food? Not bad, just not great. 5/10

Camp Dog Cajun Seasoning
(Carencro)
Serving suggestion: “If it flies, walks, crawls, swims, jumps, or grows, just sprinkle a little on it, and enjoy.” Tasting notes: Quite sweet with notes of celery. Would be good in a red sauce or in Italian dishes in general. Very good on popcorn. 7/10

Chef Gone Mad Cajun NOLA Seasoning Blend
(New Orleans)
Serving suggestion: “Keep a bottle in your purse or car.” Tasting notes: Very fragrant and sweet, hints of basil and thyme. Again, no heat at all to this one. Would be good in Italian dishes (probably because of the basil). The name definitely made me think I’d be getting something totally different. 7/10

Chef Nino’s Cajun Seasoning
(Opelousas)
Serving suggestion: “Sprinkle gently.” Tasting notes: Doesn’t taste like any of the other spice blends; it really just tasted like salt and little else. Tied for worst overall. 0/10

Creative Cajun Cooking Magic Swamp Dust
(St. Amant)
Serving suggestion: “Carry with you.” Tasting notes: Looks totally different than previous blends, much lighter—almost white. Not super salty. Was nice on shrimp, but truly magnificent on popcorn. 9/10

Louisiana Cajun Seasoning
(Baton Rouge)
Serving suggestion: “Use as you would salt and pepper.” Tasting notes: Doesn’t taste like much of anything. It’s like what you’d get if you went to Applebee’s for Cajun food. Tied for worst overall. 0/10

Paw-Ran’s Country Cajun
(Mandeville)
Serving suggestion: “God bless.” Tasting notes: Very generic. Salty but not crazy, no heat whatsoever. Not awful, but also not great. 4/10

Punch Ya Daddy Cajun Seasoning
(Houma)  
Serving suggestion: “Experience the perfect blend.” Tasting notes: Hunks of peppercorn in it. Exact same ingredients listed as Slap Ya’ Mama except with the addition of paprika. Very salty, not amazing. I think the proportions were off. 4/10

Ragin’ Cajun All Purpose Cajun Seasoning
(Broussard)
Serving suggestion: “Shake it on everything.” Tasting notes: Light but not as white as Magic Swamp Dust. Tastes suspiciously like Chef Nino’s. Tied for worst overall. 0/10

Walker & Sons “Slap Ya’ Mama” Cajun Seasoning
(Ville Platte)
Serving suggestion: “Recommended for all dishes.” Tasting notes: Has only four ingredients: salt, red pepper, black pepper, garlic. Tastes classic, if a bit basic. Not hot at all, would probably be good on anything you’d use it for, since it’s so simple. 7/10

CREOLE

Chef Sal Impastato’s Sal & Judy’s Creole Seasoning
(Lacombe)
Serving suggestion: “Add to anything.” Tasting notes: Very good, not overly salty. Complex with a somewhat old-school flavor. Would be very good on a salad, and indeed was quite tasty paired with avocado. Excellent on popcorn. Tied for best of the bunch. 10/10

Konriko Creole Seasoning
(New Iberia)
Serving suggestion: “Simply use.” Tasting notes: Smells like tomatoes, although they aren’t listed on the packaging. Strong overtones of cayenne, very salty. I wasn’t a fan. 2/10

O-My Premium Creole Seasoning
(Thibodaux)
Serving suggestion: “Awesome on anything!” Tasting notes: Very hard to open the package (I literally had to use a knife to saw into it), charming graphics, notes of mustard and chipotle, very hot, with a heat that sneaks up on you. Very nice on shrimp, would be lovely in a crawfish pasta dish. Tied for best of the bunch. 10/10

Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Creole Seasoning
(New Orleans)
Serving suggestion: “Please apply a small amount and taste.” Tasting notes: This was the only salt-free option I tried. Very fragrant with discernable tomato and thyme notes, managed to be spicy without being hot. The lack of salt actually allows you to taste the spices. Would be very good on pork, was lovely on shrimp. 9/10

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
(Opelousas)
Serving suggestion: “Use like salt.” Tasting notes: Classic flavor, salty with minimal heat. It’s quite complex on its own. Excellent on popcorn. 9/10

Tony Chachere’s More Spice Creole Seasoning
(Opelousas)
Serving suggestion: “Use like salt.” Tasting notes: Exact same ingredient listing as classic Tony’s but with the addition of black pepper. It’s oddly better than Tony’s. The flavor is more earthy, less sharp. Intensely tasty on seafood and popcorn; would be good in a pasta dish. Tied for best of the bunch. 10/10

Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
(New Orleans)
Serving suggestion: “Shake it on.” Tasting notes: Smells much more chemical than the others in this category. Looks a lot like Tony’s, but was much saltier, and had an odd aftertaste. Not recommended. Did not jazz it up. 1/10

YVETTE REGRETS | yvette@antigravitymagazine.com


illustrations BEN CLAASSEN III @dirtfarm

 

Leave a Reply

Featured Articles

New Orleans Alternative Music and Culture
FacebookInstagramTwitter