Firm white fish pairs deliciously with shrimp when baked in a creamy cheese casserole. Seafood cheese bake is a favorite Irish recipe, and here's my version of this traditional dish.
When my mom cooked a seafood bake she liked to use cod and was not a big fan of shrimp or prawns as they are called in Ireland.
I grew up just five miles from Howth, Dublin's favorite place to buy fresh fish. With freshly caught fish available practically on our doorstep, it's no surprise we ate fish at least once a week.
Every Friday during Lent fish was definitely on our menu, and I continue this tradition to this very day. I cooked this fish casserole for dinner yesterday, so why not share it with you today.
This recipe is inspired by mother's cheesy cod dinners from years gone by. But as usual, I've tweaked her traditional cheesy cod casserole to add my own little twists and flavors.
I like to use a combination of firm white fish like cod, haddock or monkfish. My mother was very faithful to good old cod.
Sometimes I use uncooked fresh shrimp, but on occasion when I have a packet of frozen cooked shrimp I just add them to this bake half way through cooking. Anyway, here's my recipe for an Irish Cheesy Seafood Bake......
Here's a list of what you'll need. At the end of the post, you'll find the printable recipes, with US and Metric measurement quantities. You can choose which version to print.
- whole milk
- onion (peeled and sliced)
- dried bay leaves
- parsley stalks
- all-purpose flour
- lemon juice
- grated white cheddar cheese
- monkfish fillets (skin, membrane and bones removed and cut into 1 inch cubes)
- cod fillets (skin and bones removed and cut into 1 inch cubes)
- peeled, cooked, and deveined shrimp
- green onions (finely chopped)
- sliced button mushrooms
- salt and pepper to season
The fish and seafood I choose for this casserole are typically Irish. You'll notice that there's no crabmeat, scallops, tuna or lobster in this seafood casserole recipe. Feel free to experiment with this basic recipe. You can add a little crab meat or cooked lobster meat along with the cooked shrimp if you wish.
I also don't use any garlic cloves to infuse the milk that will be used to make the cheese sauce. You can add a clove or two of garlic if you wish to enhance the flavors, but I find that onion with bay leaves and fresh parsley works just perfectly.
I only add mushrooms to this seafood dish, but once again feel free to experiment with some finely diced vegetables such as carrots or celery.
Directions For Irish Cheesy Seafood Casserole:
I like to infuse the milk with aromatic flavors before using it to make a creamy cheese sauce.
This is simple to do.
Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the sliced onion, bay leaves and parsley stalks. Bring to a boil then remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
Onion flavor slowly infuses the milk as it stands.
When you're ready to make the cheese sauce, strain the milk and discard the leftover onion and herbs.
Pre-heat the oven to 350° F, and grease a 2-quart casserole dish or a 13 x 9 baking dish with butter.
Next step is the cheese sauce.
Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the flour and stir it constantly to form a roux. Cook this paste over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
Gradually whisk in the strained milk, blending completely to create a smooth sauce.
Bring to a boil stirring constantly to thicken the sauce. Reduce the heat and cook for an additional minute.
Add two-thirds of the grated cheese, and lemon juice. Stir to melt the cheese.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
It's fine to taste and season the sauce at this stage since no raw fish has been added.
Add the monkfish and cook for a minute stirring to completely coat in sauce.
You can use all cod if you like. I like the chunky texture of monkfish in this casserole. You'll need 1 and ½ pounds of white fish altogether. The ratio of cod to monkfish is up to you.
Just a little advice though. Monkfish contains more water than cod, so the sauce will be a little thinner after baking than if you use cod only.
Next toss in the cubed cod, thinly sliced mushrooms, and green onions.
I only use the lower half of each green onion stalk. I prefer the flavor of the lighter colored portion of the leaves.
Transfer the mixture to the pre-greased casserole dish.
If you prefer, you can use four gratin dishes to bake individual portions. For this baking method place the gratin dishes on two baking trays since the sauce may ooze over the edge of the dishes as it bubbles and cooks in the oven.
Bake the casserole in a 350° F oven. Total cooking time is about 35 to 40 minutes.
After 15 minutes of baking add the shrimp to the casserole. Spread them evenly throughout the bake. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.
Bake for an additional 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.
If you cook this seafood bake in individual gratin dishes, the cooking time may only be 30 minutes.
This cheesy bake will turn a lovely golden brown in the oven. I just top it with grated cheddar cheese and don't bother with bread crumbs or any other crumbly toppings.
Irish brown bread is perfect alongside this cheesy seafood bake.
A nice, crispy salad is also delicious and refreshing served with this luscious, cheesy fish casserole.
Other options are to serve it over a bed of cooked long grain rice or noodles. Now, if you're Irish you'll probably enjoy this casserole best served alongside floury mashed potatoes.
This dish is best eaten when cooked. You can store it in the refrigerator for one to two days, once it is covered with an airtight lid.
I do not recommend freezing this casserole since the cheese sauce contains too much dairy, and it tends to become grainy when frozen.
And so there you have it - a perfect Irish fish dish for Fridays during Lent, or any Friday in the year, or in fact, for any day of the year.
Here's the printable recipe:
Cheesy Seafood Bake
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 medium onion peeled and quartered
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 parsley stalks
- 1 pound monkfish fillets cut in 1 inch cubes
- ½ pound cod fillet cut in 1 inch cubes
- 4 ounces shrimp cooked, peeled and deveined
- 3 ounces butter
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 6 ounces white cheddar cheese grated
- 4 green onions thinly sliced
- 4 ounces mushrooms button or white mushrooms cleaned and sliced
- salt and pepper to season
- Pour the milk into a large saucepan and add the onion, bay leaves and parsley stalks. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and let the milk stand to infuse with flavor.
- When cooled strain the milk through a sieve and discard the onion and herbs.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 2-quart casserole or a 13 X 9 baking dish with butter.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the flour and stir to blend forming a roux. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes stirring constantly.
- Gradually blend in the strained milk, stirring constantly to create a smooth sauce. Bring to simmering point then reduce the heat and cook gently for 1 minute stirring as the sauce thickens.
- Season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice and two-thirds of the grated cheese. Stir the sauce until the cheese melts and blends completely.
- Add the monkfish to the sauce and stir while cooking for 1 minute. Add the cod, green onions, and mushrooms and blend completely covering all of the ingredients in cheese sauce.
- Transfer the mixture to the buttered casserole dish. Bake in a 350° F oven.
- After 15 minutes add the shrimp evenly to the top of the casserole. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake for a further 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Serve with a crispy side salad and Irish brown bread.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
I hope you enjoy this recipe from Ireland.
Happy fish cooking from my home to yours.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
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