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Fish casserole is generally a one-dish meal containing seafood, cheese and either pasta, rice or couscous. The dish is usually baked and may also feature vegetables, spices and sauces that complement the main ingredients. These recipes may be very simple fare, containing only a few ingredients, or may be tweaked into gourmet meals. Cooks can tailor a fish casserole to their needs, making it large enough to feed an entire family or small enough for just a single person.
One of the most popular varieties of fish casserole is tuna noodle. Many people enjoy the taste of tuna, and it typically blends well with hearty flavors like egg noodles, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Canned tuna is also relatively inexpensive and doesn’t need to be precooked. This means cooks in a hurry, on a budget, or both, can stir a can or two of tuna into their casserole fixings to create a tasty, fast, relatively nutritious meal.
Those that dislike canned tuna, or simply have a little more room in their budget, may prefer fresh tuna for their fish casserole. Fresh tuna is red, firm and very clean, meaning it only needs a light sear on the outside before going into a casserole. Cooks can cube it, sauté it for a few minutes and then stir it into the dish to finish cooking in the oven. One may also do this with wahoo fish, which is a slightly cheaper, generally flavorful alternative to tuna. Wahoo is white, meaty and usually combines well with the same flavors that complement tuna fish.
Many varieties of salmon are also popular additions to fish casserole. Salmon combines well with strong-tasting cheeses like fontina, aged cheddar and smoked or sharp provolone. Spices that go well with salmon include garlic, rosemary, thyme, parsley and basil. Nutty-tasting wheat noodles generally underscore salmon’s flavor, taming its sharpness while underscoring its richness. Those with a gourmet bent may even want to opt for smoked salmon fillets. These smoky-flavored pieces of fish usually give fish casseroles a ton of flavor. Mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli and all kinds of peppers typically marry well with salmon.
Shellfish are another popular addition to a fish casserole. Dishes including shrimp, crab meat and oysters often take on spicy or tropical flavors. One might find a shrimp casserole laden with seared tropical fruits and sweetened rice. A crab casserole may combine spicy Cajun seasoning with okra, sweet yellow tomatoes and orzo. Meaty mussels and oysters work well with garlic, mild cheeses — like ricotta — and just a sprinkling of onions.
Tilapia, halibut, flounder and other white-fleshed fishes sometimes make an appearance in casseroles, but usually in conjunction with other fish. Fish with white flesh usually require marinades or a certain type of cooking to bring out its flavor, so putting them in a casserole may overwhelm them. Cooks creating fish casseroles, especially for the first time, should generally choose seafood with rich, hearty flavors that can stand out against the rest of the ingredients.
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