Shavout: Baked Tilapia with "Crab Meat" Stuffing

YoungerSon:  What are you making?

Me:  Tilapia.  With pretend crab meat stuffing.

YS:  Uh-huh ... can I have the crab meat in a hot dog bun?

Me:  No, because I already stuffed the tilapia.  And this recipe is different.  Plus I don't have any buns.

Later, after the fish is consumed:

Hubby:  Keeper! (as in "hey, this is better than I had feared.")

YS: Is there any left? (as in "can I have more?  Because this is better than I had feared.")

The clipping I have of the original recipe conveniently doesn't have the name of the magazine from whence it was clipped, so I headed to the intertubes to find the original source.  After a couple of minutes there I was, looking at the EXACT recipe, word-for-word ... except that the person who posted it had listed it under her OWN name, without crediting the magazine from whence it came!  How rude and plagiaristic!

So I crawled back into the web, did a little more surfing and rediscovered the real original over at Family Circle, under the title Baked Flounder with Crabmeat Stuffing.

Because I didn't bother to check the number of ounces in the package of imitation crab, I made the mistake of chopping up the entire package.   Since I only had 4 fillets of fish to wrap around it, I was left with a sizeable amount of leftover stuffing.  TIP ALERT!  Whenever you have a lot of leftover imitation crab stuffing, mix in a 1/2 cup of dried bread crumbs, then cover tightly and leave overnight in the fridge to let the dried bread crumbs absorb the excess evaporated milk.  Take it to work the next day and pretend you brought in seafood salad.

BONUS TIP ALERT!  If a recipe calls for cream, substitute an equal amount of evaporated milk, either regular or non-fat.   No one will notice the difference.

After emptying what turned out to be only a 1/4 cup of evaporated milk into the measuring cup, I reached into the pantry to retrieve another can, except on the shelf where I usually keep the evap milk was ... not evaporated milk (only I could mistake a can of tomato soup for milk).  EVEN MORE BONUS TIP ALERT!  So I topped off the evaporated milk with regular moo juice, then eyeballed in about a 1/4 cup of dried milk powder to boost the thickness a bit.   Worked like a charm.

The white wine I thought I had didn't exist either, so I used Chardonnay cooking wine mixed with water (yup, didn't have the full amount of that either) and omitted some of the salt. 

Baked Tilapia with "Crab Meat" Stuffing
adapted from Family Circle Magazine
Makes 4 servings

1/2  small onion, minced
2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1/2  tsp. Old Bay seasoning, plus extra for topping
1/4  tsp. salt, plus extra for topping
2/3  cup evaporated milk (low-fat ok)
8  ounces imitation crab meat, finely chopped
1 Tbl. chopped fresh parsley (frozen ok)
4  tilapia fillets
3/4  cup white wine, water or a combination
    Heat a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, wait 10 seconds to let oil heat, then add onion.  Stir to coat onion, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook 4 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.

    Remove cover and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of the Old Bay, 1/4 teaspon salt and the evaporated milk. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil; cook for 1 minute or until reduced and thickened. Gently stir in crab meat and parsley; refrigerate 15 minutes.

    After the stuffing is refrigerated for 10 minutes, start to heat oven to 400F. Coat a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with remaining oil. Place one of the fillets skinned-side up in the baking dish, then spoon some crab mixture onto the short half of the fillet.  Gently press down the stuffing in a futile attempt at preventing any from escaping, then fold the larger side of the fillet over the stuffing. Repeat using remaining fillets and crab. Very lightly sprinkle Old Bay seasoning and salt over fillet bundles.

    Add wine/water to baking dish around fillets.

    Bake at 400F for 15minutes or until fish is solid white and flakes easily with a fork.

    Note that a lot of the stuffing escaped anyway.  Remove and plate the fish with a large spatula.  Serve with your favorite veggies.


    1. If you use toothpicks, the fish will stay together better and you won't have runaway stuffing (not that runaway stuffing is a bad thing). You could also just put the extra stuffing in the baking pan next to the fish.


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