Growing up, my father cooked, a lot, and everything he made was a masterpiece. He would make cheese fondue, fresh steamed lobsters, fresh homemade pasta and spaghetti sauce that simmered for 8 hours for “spaghetti night”, made and attempted to get his young daughters to eat steak tartar, and even steamed fish in the dishwasher. This was typical. His cooking was always adventurous, trying something new, and never standard.
This is how I grew up, and much to my sisters chagrin, I tried everything and even if I didn’t like it, I pretended I did and eventually came to enjoy it. It was fun watching my dad in the kitchen, creating something new every night it was a new adventure. His style included Indian food, French Food, Mexican Food, really all the flavors of the world were represented….that is except American.
Now, don’t get me wrong, he made a great burger, and BBQ Chicken, but overall “American” was not represented growing up.
So when I started dating my future husband, he wanted to make me something called “Tuna Casserole”, sounds innocent enough right? Well at 23 years old I was in for a huge surprise. We went to the store and purchased the ingredients specifically for the casserole including:
Tuna (of course)
Frozen Peas (ok I like peas)
Egg Noodles (Ok, I’ve seen these before)
Cream of Mushroom (I had never used that before, but ok)
French Fried Onion Rings (I didn’t even know what that was)
Cheez Whiz (Ok, this is silly and sounds overwhelmingly disgusting)
Lays Potato Chips (Now he’s yanking my chain, there is no way this is used in a casserole)
Ketchup (I was convinced this was a trick, so I asked him, “Ketchup? Really?” and he said “Of COURSE you need ketchup to put on the top before you eat it!” I felt like I am the only human in the entire world that didn’t know this.)
Now the only thing I thought you could ever do with Canned Tuna was tuna salad, but with all of these ingredients it sounded like I was already preparing to lie to my boyfriend and tell him how “delicious” his creation is. But seriously, Cheez Whiz? What is that? It’s Neon Yellow-Orange and comes in a jar that is not refrigerated. There is no Cheese in it and I really don’t want to know what “Whiz” is but I think there’s a lot of it in this product.
I was flabbergasted, I had no idea what to think. But at this time in my life, I had barely stepped into a kitchen but to burn spaghetti, make peanut butter sandwiches, or warm up a frozen meal, and my Boyfriend was much more well versed in the kitchen than I was, so I trusted him.
And I’m glad I did…that night I had a delicious meal that I had never had before, and it was the first of many, many, many, tuna casseroles to come in our lives spanning over 16 years and still continuing today.
This recipe, I learned, is my mother in laws and she has all kinds of amazing casseroles that I still make today! I have yet to tweak any of her recipes, and they always come out amazing. However when I was challenged with a way to use an ingredient in a food that people would be surprised I used, both my husband and I immediately thought about Tuna Casserole. So I played around with the recipe, tweaking it heavily and came up with the gourmet version of Tuna Casserole, “Potato Chip Crusted Halibut” Yes I changed the fish, but there’s a reason for that. When I made this with Tuna, the tuna became dry, and I’ll be honest it was really expensive. So I like the hallibut because it’s meatier and more financially responsible.
I hope you enjoy my take on Tuna Noodle Casserole!
Potato Chip Crusted Halibut
1 cup Minute Rice
1 Cup Water
3 oz shredded Buttercase Cheese
1/2 Bag Lays Potato Chips
1 TBSP Paprika
1 Cup Flour
2 Eggs Beaten
2 TBSP Butter
1 Cup Baby Bella Mushrooms chopped
1/2 Onion sliced into thin strips
2 Cloves Garlic chopped
2 TBSP Heavy Whipping Cream
3 Basil leaves cut in strips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Prepare the Crust. Take the 1/2 bag of potato chips and put it in a large zip top plastic bag. Add the Paprika and crush by hand. This is a LOT more fun that I should admit. Now is the time to get your aggressions out.
4. Prepare the Halibut Crust by putting the Flour in one container, the beaten eggs in a second and the Potato Chip Mix in a third.
5. Heat an oven safe Frying Pan over Medium-High Heat and melt 1 TBSP Butter
6. Salt and pepper both sides of the Halibut. I used fish with skin, but you could go skinless too, either way, salt/pepper both sides.
8. Place the fish (skin side up first) in the hot pan and let cook for 5 minutes.
9. While it is cooking, start the rice according to the package directions. Boil the water, and then add the rice and let it “fluff” up.
10. After 5 minutes, flip the fish (skin side down now) and cook for 5 minutes. If you’re using fish with skin, be prepared, as soon as the skin hits the pan it will shrink up like crazy, it’s fun to watch but totally freaked me out the first time. 🙂
11. After the 5 minutes skin side down, flip the fish again and put the pan in the oven for 5 minutes, then flip the fish again and cook skin side down for the final 10 minutes.
12. While the fish is in the oven, start the sauce.
13. Take a pan over medium high heat and melt the other 1 TBSP Butter. When melted, add the onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook until they are soft and the onions are translucent.
14. Turn the heat down to low, and add the cream.
15. When the rice is done, add half of the buttercase cheese and mix
To serve, start with the rice and put the fish (skin side down) on top of the rice. Then top with the mushroom cream mixture and top with cheese and basil.
The cheese is very subtle and super creamy and ties the rice in with the fish really well. And believe it or not, my husband tried it and asked what the crust was made out of, and I told him “potato chips!” Success! He even knew I was making this dish, and he didn’t notice that it was lays chips crusting that fish!
So I think I did it, I finally blended both sides of my life. My “gourmet” fathers cooking style, inspired by my Mother-In-Laws very popular Tuna Noodle Casserole. I think I found something uniquely my own blending both of my worlds. It was delicious and something totally new, yet triggered a comfort food feel. We have a new favorite way to enjoy fish in our house. I hope you enjoy it too!