My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Seafood Bubbly Bake

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Seafood Casserole
My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Seafood Bubbly Bake

When you live on an Island where fishing is one of the main industries, it means you have access to wonderful fresh seafood. Yes, we are spoiled! Here in Prince Edward Island, where I reside, I make good use of seafood in my diet and in my recipe creations as I have done here with my Seafood Bubbly Bake.

As I write this posting, it is Food Day Canada 2021, a day to celebrate the wonderful local foods that the various regions of the country offer. My main dish to celebrate Food Day Canada this year combines four of my favorite local seafoods fished or harvested off the shores of PEI – lobster, scallops, mussels, and haddock – into a delectable Seafood Bubbly Bake casserole.

This rich and luxurious dish is one I put in the special occasion or company fare category as, with the type and amount of seafood in the recipe, it is not a particularly economical dish to make. If you are a seafood lover, this Seafood Bubbly Bake should check off all the boxes! While this recipe has been developed for eight (8) servings, it can easily be halved or even quartered if only two (2) servings are required.

Seafood Casserole filled with lobster, scallops, mussels, and haddock
Seafood Bubbly Bake

I find the preparation of this dish goes more smoothly if some advance prep work is done and the work organized. The lobster and mussels need to be pre-cooked and the meat removed from the shells before the meat is added to the casserole. The quantity of meat called for in the recipe refers to the actual meat weight after it has been removed from the shell. If you have access to cooked lobster in your area, this will make preparation of this dish easier. And, it will be made even easier if you can buy the lobster meat already removed from the shell.

Where I live, we have a wonderful seafood shop that, during lobster season, sells containers of lobster meat, already cleaned from the shell and that is a great convenience. Not only does it eliminate the work and mess of cooking and cleaning the lobster(s) but the exact amount of lobster meat required for a recipe can be purchased thus ensuring you have the right amount of lobster meat for the recipe. It’s always hard to know what weight of lobster in the shell to buy to get a specific amount of lobster meat as it depends on how well filled the lobsters are and that, unfortunately, is something you just don’t know until they are cracked open.

How to Eat Lobster, PEI Style
Cracking Open the Lobster

However, if you do not have access to cooked and/or shelled lobster meat, you will need to cook the lobster by whatever method you typically use to cook your lobster. As a general rule, a 1½ – 2 lb lobster should yield about 8 oz meat. While I always prefer fresh product, frozen or canned cooked lobster meat could, alternatively, be substituted for the fresh lobster. The haddock and scallops, both of which cook rather quickly, do not need to be pre-cooked as they will cook in the casserole in the oven.

For the mussels, you’ll need approximately 1¼ – 1½ pounds fresh uncooked mussels to get ¼ pound mussel meat as you will need to allot for some shells that won’t open during steaming and that must be discarded as well as some mussels that will be smaller than others.

Seafood Casserole Brimming with Scallops, Mussels, Lobster, and Haddock
Hearty Seafood Bubbly Bake

I pack my Seafood Bubbly Bake with seafood. If I am having a seafood dish, I want to see seafood in it. Lots of it! One and one-half pounds of seafood will be required for this recipe. While I have suggested lobster, mussels, haddock, and scallops, pretty much any combination of seafood can be used so long as the total amount equals 1½ pounds.

So, if you don’t like one of the seafoods I use and instead prefer, for example, shrimp or crab, simply substitute out one or more of the seafoods in the recipe and swap them with the same meat weight of another kind of seafood. Just know that some seafoods have to be pre-cooked before including in this recipe so, depending on what substitutions you might choose to use, you will need to build time into the process to allow for any necessary pre-cooking of some of the seafood. If your local fish market sells a seafood chowder mix, that can be substituted for some, or I suppose even all, of the seafood quantity called for in the recipe.

Just like any tasty casserole, this Seafood Bubbly Bake benefits from a good flavor base. Chop the mushrooms, celery, onion, and red pepper for the aromatic base. Grate the carrot – I suggest using a coarse grater for this. The carrot will add flavor and color to the casserole but, if chopped, diced, or sliced, may not cook sufficiently so I do recommend grating the carrot which will allow it to cook more quickly in the same time as the other veggies. In addition to the flavor it imparts, the grated bits of carrot also add color and texture to the sauce.

Mince the garlic cloves. Garlic is a taste so, depending on your like (or dislike) for garlic, use your judgment as to how much to add. I suggest mincing 3-4 cloves for the first time you make the casserole and, if desired, adjusting the amount in future makings of the casserole. Remember, if you put too much of anything in the dish, it cannot be removed and, since this is not an altogether cheap dish to make, you don’t want to ruin it by over seasoning.

Sauté the aromatics (mushrooms, celery, onion, red pepper, and carrot) to bring out their flavors but don’t over-sauté them to the point that they are completely limp and do be careful when adding the minced garlic as it can quickly scorch and the aromatic base will have a burnt flavor which will spoil the dish. Just a few seconds of cooking is all that will be required. Add the white wine and reduce it by half or slightly more. Don’t skip this step as the reduction process evaporates the harsh alcohol taste and leaves a lovely concentrated flavor that will add complexity to, and accent, the flavour of the sauce. Less is more in this case.

The sauce, the base of which is a typical white sauce, does need some flavor boost and this comes via the addition of a curated selection of seasonings – specifically, summer savory, dry mustard, Old Bay seasoning, curry powder, dill, ground ginger, cayenne, and paprika. Season with fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper according to your taste preferences. My recipe does not call for a whole lot of any one spice or seasoning but the ones I have chosen each impart a subtle flavor note to the sauce – not enough to overpower the seafood but enough to enhance its flavor. As with most of my recipes, it’s all about layering in the flavor.

Seafood Casserole with Watermelon and Cucumber Salad
Seafood Bubbly Bake with Watermelon, Cucumber, and Red Onion Salad with Feta

This is a lovely luxuriously smooth and rich, made-from-scratch, sauce. It basically is enough sauce to bind the seafood and other ingredients. Use whole milk as the base and add richness to the sauce through the use of whipping cream. Yes, use the good stuff! Liquid chicken bouillon is my “go-to” flavor booster for many sauces, including this one. A small amount of Worcestershire sauce and finely grated Parmesan cheese finish off the flavor element.

The seafood and sautéed vegetables are folded into the thick sauce and then the mixture is transferred to small individual baking dishes. Eight (8) dishes, each with a 1-cup capacity, will be needed. I do not recommend baking this casserole in a single large casserole dish as it would not scoop out and stay sufficiently intact to present well on a plate. The Seafood Bubbly Bake is, essentially, thick chowder-like consistency and presents best when left in, and served in, individual dishes in which it was baked. These types of dishes in various shapes (rounds, ovals, and rectangles) are regularly available in many specialty kitchen stores and can often also be found at thrift stores and dollar stores as well as locations such as Home Sense, Home Goods, Winners, and Marshalls. Do not fill each dish right to the rim as the ingredients need room to bubble up as they bake. It’s not called a “bubbly bake” without good reason!

Seafood Casserole in individual baking dishes
Seafood Bubbly Bake in individual baking dishes

The tops of each casserole are covered with a sprinkling of a bread crumb, butter, and cheese topping. If desired, sprinkle chopped fresh parsley over tops of each casserole at time of serving.

Individual Seafood Casseroles topped with bread crumbs and cheddar cheese
Seafood Bubbly Bake Casseroles with a bread crumb, butter, and cheese topping

I tried to capture a photo of the casseroles when they were still bubbling just as they came out of the oven. The casseroles benefit from sitting for about 10 minutes to allow them to set and cool to a comfortable eating temperature before consuming.

Individual Seafood Casseroles
Bubbling Seafood Bubbly Bake Casseroles Coming out of the Oven

Serve with a favorite side salad. I recommend serving alongside my colorful and flavorful Watermelon, Cucumber, and Red Onion Salad with Feta.

Watermelon Salad in bowl
Watermelon, Cucumber, and Red Onion Salad with Feta

This is a cool and refreshing salad that I find palate cleansing. It complements the rich Seafood Bubbly Bake well. Click here for my salad recipe. Add some bread or rolls and a lovely wine for a superb meal.

Bottle of PEI-produced Chardonnay
Matos Winery Chardonnay

There are several wines that pair well with this seafood dish. Today, I have chosen a lovely Chardonnay produced locally by Matos Winery in St. Catherine’s, PEI. Click here to read the story I wrote a few years ago following my visit to the Winery.

Seafood Casserole with salad
Seafood Bubbly Bake

[Printable recipe follows at end of post]

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s
Seafood Bubbly Bake 

Ingredients:

¼ cup butter
4 oz small white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
¾ cup celery, finely chopped
½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
½ cup red pepper, finely chopped
2½ oz coarsely grated carrot
3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
Scant 1/3 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup butter
½ cup minus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour (7 tbsp)
1 tsp dried summer savory
½ tsp dry mustard
½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
¼ tsp curry powder
¼ tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp ground ginger
Pinch cayenne
Pinch paprika
Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1½ cups whole milk
½ cup whipping cream (36%)
1 tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
¾ tsp Worcestershire sauce

1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

8 oz cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped (weighed after shelling)
4 oz cooked mussels, shelled (weighed after shelling)
4 oz haddock, chopped into bite-sized pieces
8 oz scallops, left whole if small; cut into bite-sized pieces if scallops are large

3½ – 4 tbsp melted butter
1 1/3 cups finely chopped bread crumbs (but not super-fine or powder like)
2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese

Fresh chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Method:

Cook lobster and steam mussels. Meat quantity of lobster and mussels called for in recipe is measured after cooking and shelling so remove meat from shells, weigh, and set it aside. Chop uncooked haddock into bite-sized pieces. If scallops are small, leave whole; if large, cut into smaller bite-sized pieces. Place all seafood in refrigerator until called for in recipe.

Chop mushrooms, celery, onion, and red pepper. Grate the carrot. Mince the garlic. Set aside.

Measure ingredients for sauce (butter, flour, spices, and other seasonings). Combine the flour, spices, and seasonings in small bowl. In bowl, or medium-sized glass measuring cup, combine and whisk together the whole milk, whipping cream, liquid chicken bouillon, and Worcestershire sauce.

Grate the Parmesan cheese.

Prepare the bread crumbs, measure out the butter, and grate the cheddar cheese for the casserole topping.

Butter eight ramekins or small individual casserole dishes that each have a 1-cup capacity. Place dishes on large baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In large saucepan, over medium heat, melt ¼ cup butter. Add the mushrooms, celery, onion, red pepper, and grated carrot. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-4 minutes or until onion just starts to become translucent and the vegetables soften slightly. Add the minced garlic. Stirring constantly, sauté mixture just until garlic becomes fragrant (about 30-45 seconds). Do not let garlic scorch or vegetables to over-sauté. Return heat to medium and add the dry white wine and cook mixture until the wine has reduced by half or a little more, approximately 2-3 minutes.

While the vegetables are sautéing, begin preparing the sauce by placing 1/3 cup butter in large-sized saucepan over medium heat. When butter is melted and starting to bubble or sizzle, reduce heat slightly and sprinkle in the flour and seasonings mixture, stirring quickly and constantly. Gradually whisk in the liquid ingredient mixture, whisking constantly until mixture is smooth and thickened. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese until melted.

Fold the seafood and sautéed vegetables into the sauce. Divide mixture evenly between the prepared baking dishes.

Melt 3½ – 4 tbsp butter. Add the bread crumbs and stir with fork just until butter is incorporated with crumbs. Stir in the grated cheddar cheese. Sprinkle mixture over tops of casseroles. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until casseroles are bubbling around edges and bread crumb topping is golden tanned. If desired, garnish tops of casseroles with freshly chopped parsley at time of serving. Casseroles are best left to sit for approximately 10 minutes before serving to allow the ingredients to set and reach a temperature where the flavors of the Bubbly Bake can best be enjoyed. Serve alongside favorite salad and bread or rolls.

Yield: 8 servings

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Seafood Casserole in individual baking dish
Seafood Bubbly Bake

My Island Bistro Kitchen’s Seafood Bubbly Bake

Lobster, scallops, mussels, and haddock baked in a luxuriously rich and delectable sauce make this Seafood Bubbly Bake a seafood lover’s dream come true!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Canadian
Keyword casserole, seafood, Seafood Bubbly Bake, seafood casserole
Servings 8
My Island Bistro Kitchen Barbara99

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 oz small white button or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • ¾ cup celery, finely chopped
  • ½ cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • oz coarsely grated carrot
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Scant 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • ½ cup minus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour (7 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp dried summer savory
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • ¼ tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp dried dill
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch paprika
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • cups whole milk
  • ½ cup whipping cream (36%)
  • 1 tbsp liquid chicken bouillon
  • ¾ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz cooked lobster meat, coarsely chopped (weighed after shelling)
  • 4 oz cooked mussels, shelled (weighed after shelling)
  • 4 oz haddock, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 oz scallops, left whole if small; cut into bite-sized pieces if scallops are large
  • 3½ - 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 1/3 cups finely chopped bread crumbs (but not super-fine or powder like)
  • 2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • Fresh chopped parsley for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook lobster and steam mussels. Meat quantity of lobster and mussels called for in recipe is measured after cooking and shelling so remove meat from shells, weigh, and set it aside. Chop uncooked haddock into bite-sized pieces. If scallops are small, leave whole; if large, cut into smaller bite-sized pieces. Place all seafood in refrigerator until called for in recipe.

  2. Chop mushrooms, celery, onion, and red pepper. Grate the carrot. Mince the garlic. Set aside.
  3. Measure ingredients for sauce (butter, flour, spices, and other seasonings). Combine the flour, spices, and seasonings in small bowl. In bowl, or medium-sized glass measuring cup, combine and whisk together the whole milk, whipping cream, liquid chicken bouillon, and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Grate the Parmesan cheese.
  5. Prepare the bread crumbs, measure out the butter, and grate the cheddar cheese for the casserole topping.
  6. Butter eight ramekins or small individual casserole dishes that each have a 1-cup capacity. Place dishes on large baking sheet.
  7. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  8. In large saucepan, over medium heat, melt ¼ cup butter. Add the mushrooms, celery, onion, red pepper, and grated carrot. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-4 minutes or until onion just starts to become translucent and the vegetables soften slightly. Add the minced garlic. Stirring constantly, sauté mixture just until garlic becomes fragrant (about 30-45 seconds). Do not let garlic scorch or vegetables to over-sauté. Return heat to medium and add the dry white wine and cook mixture until the wine has reduced by half or a little more, approximately 2-3 minutes.

  9. While the vegetables are sautéing, begin preparing the sauce by placing 1/3 cup butter in large-sized saucepan over medium heat. When butter is melted and starting to bubble or sizzle, reduce heat slightly and sprinkle in the flour and seasonings mixture, stirring quickly and constantly. Gradually whisk in the liquid ingredient mixture, whisking constantly until mixture is smooth and thickened. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese until melted.
  10. Fold the seafood and sautéed vegetables into the sauce. Divide mixture evenly between the prepared baking dishes.
  11. Melt 3½ - 4 tbsp butter. Add the bread crumbs and stir with fork just until butter is incorporated with crumbs. Stir in the grated cheddar cheese. Sprinkle mixture over tops of casseroles. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until casseroles are bubbling around edges and bread crumb topping is golden tanned. If desired, garnish tops of casseroles with freshly chopped parsley at time of serving. Casseroles are best left to sit for approximately 10 minutes before serving to allow the ingredients to set and reach a temperature where the flavors of the Bubbly Bake can best be enjoyed. Serve alongside favorite salad and bread or rolls.

Recipe Notes

Yield: 8 servings

You may also enjoy these other seafood dishes from My Island Bistro Kitchen:

Mussel Chowder
Mussels Steamed in Beer
Lobster Rolls
Lobster Chowder
Lobster Frittata
Lobster Club Sandwich
Lobster and Asparagus Crepes
Lobster Eggs Benedict
Lobster Cakes
Baked Haddock au Gratin
Creamy Scallop Carbonara
Tuna Stuffed Potatoes
Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole
Classic Tuna Melts
Tuna Salad Sandwich

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