Awesome Tilapia-Crab Casserole
Tilapia topped with a delicious imitation crab mixture
Adapted from a stuffed flounder recipe found in a Family Circle cookbook, this baked tilapia combines cream and seasonings with imitation crab meat to create a savory addition to a versatile fish.
For the Topping:
- Olive Oil
- 1/2 medium onion, minced
- 1/2 large Anaheim or red chili pepper, finely chopped
- 2/3 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces imitation crabmeat (one package), roughly chopped
For the fish:
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3-4 frozen tilapia fillets
Notes on this Recipe
While I normally use frozen fillets for this dish, fresh can be used as well. If using frozen, pop them in the refrigerator the night before or lay them out 10-20 minutes before you start cooking. They won't need to be completely thawed by the time the casserole goes into the oven, but they should have a good start. If you completely forget to thaw the fillets, no worries. Just add 5-10 minutes to the cooking time.
Onion and Pepper
I find the onion and pepper are chopped best in a food processor. It saves a lot of time and the food processor always chops things smaller than I ever can. Make sure to peel the onion, seed the pepper and chop both into several more or less even chunks before placing them into the food processor. If you've never seeded a pepper before, just slice it open lengthwise and remove the seeds and connecting ridges with a knife. If you don't have a food processor or prefer to cut by hand, just remember to chop both pepper and onion quite small.
The topping is best when made the night before, so the flavors have plenty of opportunity to blend in the fridge. At the least, you should give it an hour in the fridge to blend after its made.
I usually measure out the other ingredients before I start cooking so everything is at hand when I need it. Since the cream, salt, and Old Bay seasoning get added together, I normally just place the salt and seasoning directly into the measuring cup on top of the measured cream to save some time later.
You'll also need a large frying pan or skillet that has a lid. A glass lid is best since it allows you a view into the pan without having to lift the lid. A large plastic spoon (metal can be used too, but only if your pan isn't a nonstick), and a 1.5 or 2-quart casserole dish are also needed.
Cooking the Stuffing
1. Coat pan with olive oil. Heat on medium.
2. Add onions and peppers. Stir to ensure onions and peppers are completely coated in oil.
3. Cover and cook, about 4 minutes, until softened. Stir occasionally.
4. Add Old Bay seasoning, salt, and the heavy cream. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cook until mixture thickens, stirring frequently, about 2-3 minutes.
5. Once mixture is thickened, fold in crab meat, 1/3 at a time. Reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking for several minutes. Taste test the mixture before you remove from the heat, and adjust seasonings if needed. The crab should be completely coated in the cream mixture, and there should not be a lot of excess liquid. A little is expected, but if it looks soupy, keep cooking it down.
6. Cool and place topping in a sealed container and refrigerate 1 hour to overnight, or just munch on it for a snack. It is very tasty all on its own.
Making the casserole
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Place the fillets directly into the baking dish.
3. Pour the white wine over the fish, just covering the fillets.
4. Spoon the topping on to the top of each fillet. The topping should cover the fillets more or less completely.
5. Bake 20-25 minutes. Uncovered. Serve with spatula or large spoon.
The fish may break up when being served, so don't panic if you get fish pieces rather than fillets. It tastes yummy either way.
Imitation crab meat vs. real crab meat
Imitation crab meat marketers would have you believe imitation crab is interchangeable with real crab meat with little noticeable difference. What do you think? Is imitation crab meat actually an equal substitute for the real thing?
Does imitation crab meat taste like real crab in cooked dishes?
What's Your Favorite Seafood?
Seafood is one of my favorite foods. Crab, shrimp, mussels, some fish, occasionally lobster, I love all kinds of seafood. What about you? What's your favorite?