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Trader Joe's Frozen Fish [Moved from Home Cooking board]

Do folks have any experience w/ Trader Joe's frozen fish? I find I don't eat fish as often as I would like b/c I can't make it to the store on weeknights for fresh, so I'm wondering how the frozen fish compares?

Also, how do folks thaw the fish? Overnight in the fridge?

Many thanks!


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  1. Just don't make the mistake of buying the frozen squid-patty thing that sort of resembles a cleaned squid body. It's actually a perforated piece of squid that's been soaked in liquid and then frozen- it's probably more than 50% water.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Luther

      the frozen raw calamari rings are fab -- just don't overcook. a minute is all they need.

      I've had great luck overall with their fish - the wild salmon, some other cod-like thick white fish - I find it to be of v.good quality.

    2. I buy their frozen fish a lot, and I think it's quite good. I've had the tuna, salmon, tilapia, and their prices on frozen shrimp are the best around. I don't usually plan far enough ahead to thaw in the fridge overnight, so I end up letting it thaw in the sink under running water for a few minutes while I prep the rest of dinner.

      2 Replies
      1. re: LaurainCT

        I've had good experience with their frozen fish as well. Nothing fancy, but for a weeknight dinner it works just fine. I agree with LaurainCT; the thawing time under running water is so quick, I don't bother trying to plan ahead.

        1. re: LaurainCT

          ""... I end up letting it thaw in the sink under running water for a few minutes while I prep the rest of dinner.""

          I do that as well, but use cold water. I tried (or call it testing) warm / hot running water variations, then discovered the fish I was thawing either fell apart or imparted the flavor real bad.


          OOppss! I see "annimal" mentioned that but I added some reasons why.

        2. Just remember to thaw in cold water, not warm or hot.

          1. Great, thanks! I'm grateful to incorporate fish into weeknight meals, and will definitely pick up some shrimp!

            2 Replies
            1. re: sljones

              Please, Please, Please don't buy the frozen tiger shrimp from any Asian country - it is better for your health and the health of the world to buy un-farmed, preferably local, shrimp from the United States. There are a multitude of reasons - Destruction of mangroves, huge loads of antibiotics that end up in waterways and you, excessive nutrients flushed into waterways, pesticides to deal with the "mites" captive shrimp get, cheap farmed shrimp shipped cheaply from Asia is wasteful and puts our own fishermen out of business. . . .to name a few. Please, before you buy any seafood, research the most sustainable options (there are many others it is wise to avoid), the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch is a good source for this information.

              1. re: mle17

                mle, i agree. it is the antibiotic soup from farm-raised asian (and other countries, too) shrimp that scares me -- plus the shrimp don't have any good FLAVOR.

                i go for natural, wild-caught fresh gulf of mexico shrimp, all the way!

            2. I've had great luck with their frozen fish. Everything I've tried has been excellent--tilapia, calamari rings, shrimp, scallops, tuna, salmon.

              12 Replies
              1. re: IndyGirl

                My SO bought some sea scallops at TJ's yesterday because he balked at paying $22 a pound at the local fish market. I'm a little disappointed because I'm afraid they'll release a lot of liquid when I cook them. Any tips? Or is this getting too mucn into "home cooking?"

                1. re: Glencora

                  more than likely yes, they will release rather a lot of liquid. Frozen scallops are treated with STP (Sodium Tripoly Phosphate?) to help them retain water in the freezing/thawing process.

                  I usually use fresh, dry-packed, scallops so I can only conjecture about tips on using frozen... since they will likely realease liquid the moment they hit the pan, searing may not be the optimal route to go (of course it would depend on how much liquid they actually throw).
                  Maybe cook them in whatever liquid they give off, then use that to build a sauce?

                  Cooking time should be about 10 minutes total.

                  1. re: djohnson22

                    Sigh. I wanted the fresh dry-packed. These are Japanese wild scallops. I'm hoping they're good quality...for frozen.

                    1. re: Glencora

                      I don't know about anyone else, but I would be very keen on how you ended up preparing them, and how they were (both for taste and quality)

                      1. re: djohnson22

                        I made scallops in Champagne sauce with shiitakes and tarragon. First, I made sure the scallops were thawed and dry. Then, I thought I would be clever and cook the scallops in one pan and after they released the liquid, quickly transfer them to finish in another pan. Well, they released liquid in that one,too. I think it's just not possible to get that slightly golden crust on frozen scallops. Next time I might try broiling them, but I'd be afraid of over-cooking. The good news is that they tasted great, sweet, with a tender texture. Considering that they cost half as much as fresh, I think they are a good compromise. I'll buy them again.

                        1. re: Glencora

                          Happy to hear that they turned out well. It really is amazing how expensive fresh, dry-packed scallops are!

                          Funny that you ended up doing them in a champagne sauce... that is what I had go through my mind as well.

                          As for broiling, I would think that if you didn't put the shelf too close to the top you should do all right. Again the total cooking time would be about 10 minutes max TOTAL per inch of thickness (at 400 to 450 degrees). In this case I might check them at about 6 or 7 minutes and adjust cooking time as appropriate.

                          1. re: Glencora

                            I've had the same problem with frozen scallops but I have had some success in pan searing if I dry them really well, even squeezing them a bit. I use lots of paper towels and use an amazingly hot pan and make sure oil is very hot.

                            1. re: Glencora

                              Absurdly late to this party...
                              Yeah, the bane of all scallop lovers (or those of us who cook 'em for you) is that stp (wet pack). I haven't tried TJ's scallops, but previous attempts have led me to a soaking/brining approach. I usually soak the scallops in at least one water bath of cold water to draw out the milky fluid, then brine the scallops in a simple brine (Alton's shrimp brine is good). It usually makes the scallops more than good enough for pastas and smoking for soups. If, however, scallops are the star of the show, I ususally just wind up spending big bucks for fresh.

                              My two cents about TJ's fish- I'm batting 4 for 6: I've tried their salmon, ahi, swordfish, and halibut- I've had a few duds (poor texture, off flavor, etc) but I will definitely keep trying.

                              1. re: lunchbox

                                my TJ's frozen fish purchases have been very poor. Mushy, off flavors. I'll stick to fresh.

                      2. re: Glencora

                        But if you buy scallops treated with Sodium Tri Phosphate, half or more of what you're paying is for water. Maybe look for another fish market, mine charges only $8.99 for dry local scallops, and your yield is what you start with.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            I know, I'm lucky, and the local fisherman keep them well supplied. If I'm passing by I always grab a pound or 2 just as a treat. If I had to pay over $20 I'd never buy them, and that would be sad!

                    2. I like TJ's frozen fish as well. Halibut is a fave. thaw by placing the vacpac in a large bowl of cold water. Change the water every 5 min or so until fish is thawed. It usually takes about 20 min.

                      1. The trick with scallops, fresh or frozen, is to not overcook them. They shrink up and turn to unappetizing rubber if you do that.

                        The only way I know to not overcook them but still cook them is to cook them in acid, by making ceviche with raw or barely poached scallops. I've done that with a mixture of scallops and shrimp and it turned out wonderfully.

                        1. I try to do overnight in the fridge. I buy TJ's salmon and Alaskan Cod and think they are both good. BJs also has frozen fish that's decent. I buy the Mahi Mahi with individually packed fillets. Had some last night and loved it.

                          1. Living in the suburban desert our fish options aren't that great so TJ's frozen stuff is a staple in my freezer. I always have lots of the wild salmon fillets on hand. I also like the halibut, ahi, and albacore.

                            I've also had good luck with the frozen ahi and the frozen wild salmon at Costco.

                            1. I can recommend the "White Roughy" filets ... frozen separately. Quickly sear and add whatever you like. I've tried curry, other times tomatoes and capers ... green olives, etc.

                              Serve over rice.

                              Last night we tried the frozen Breaded Tilapia Filets that were recommended over at traderjoesfan.com. They are individually vacuum sealed and perfectly uniform. Pop in the over for 20 minutes.

                              We had them laat night in buns with tartar sauce but want to try these with lemon and capers.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: SilverlakeGirl

                                I recently tried the breaded tilapia filets at TJ's and didn't care for them. I much prefer their breaded Alaskan cod filets. No one complains if I heat them up when I'm too tired to cook.

                              2. I also like the TJs frozen Tilapia filets. I usually defrost them while still in their plastic pouch. I place the pouch into a pot filled with cold tap water, and about 30 to 45 minutes later, the fish is ready to cook.

                                1. If you do opt to defrost the fish overnight in the fridge, be sure to put a plate under the plastic package. The last 2 times I tried their Alaskan cod, the fish was OK (it was for a Tunisian fish cake recipe, don't know how it is "straight up") but as it defrosted, it leaked quite a bit. Just an FYI as it was kinda smelly to clean up.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: adroit_minx

                                    This is a reply to very old post. But if you are thawing frozen fish from a plastic vacuum pak... remove the product before thawing. Run the package under cold water for just a minute to just thaw the plastic and slit it to remove the product. Place the product on a paper towel or prachment on a plate and thaw in the refrigerator. I can't explain it but you will not experience the fishy, "I am frozen" smell or taste if you do. I find TJ's fish (salmon, Mahi, and Ahi) pretty good. I do stay away from the ones frozen in sauce.

                                    1. re: JRCann

                                      jr, thanks for that tip. the frozen fish is certainly more reasonable than fresh.

                                  2. In my house, we've gotten a little bit hooked (pardon the pun) on TJ's frozen salmon in chimichurri sauce. It is WAY better grilled over charcoal than on our indoor grill, and it's ok baked in the oven. We use a defrosting strategy that takes advantage of the properties of our large cast-iron griddle. Plop the fish (still in the package) on there for about a half hour, then flip it over and give it another half hour. Does anyone remember the "as seen on TV" ads for a product called "Miracle Thaw?" It was apparently just a metal plate and cast iron does the same thing. No water needed.

                                    1. Wow...it seems as if the overwhelming consensus is that their frozen fish is pretty good. It's been a long time since I've purchased any as past attempts usually resulted in a) notting having have much flavor and b) having an odd texture to them.
                                      Maybe I'll have to give them another try.

                                      1. I buy the tilapia frequently and it's very good. I thaw in cold water or overnight in the fridge. Prices are good so you don't have much to lose if you're unhappy.

                                        1. I like all their frozen fish, so long as it's unseasoned. I have found there are quality/flavor consistency issues with some of the already seasoned fish filets. The salmon, tuna, and tilapia are the best, imho.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                            the wild caught salmon, shrimp and halibut are a staple in our house.

                                            the preseasoned/marinated varieties aren't very good, though. we had the breaded/pecan crusted halibut and it was, um, gross.

                                            1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                              good distinction - I never buy the preseasoned varieties

                                            2. Great, this feedback is very helpful! I'll pick up some shrimp, salmon and halibut for sure. Might also look into tilapia, and some others. I'm sure I'd still prefer fresh fish, but its nice to have a nice fast protein in the freezer for those times when you want something simple and fast!

                                              Many thanks!

                                              Laura Jones

                                              1. They've got a really good price on dover sole. Now if they would only add perch to their selection!

                                                1. Several months ago I picked up a pkg of the frozen, marinated mahi mahi. It's in an oil and vinegar salad dressing type of marinade. We liked it so I keep a pkg on hand in case of "emergencies"... I really like the fresh mahi mahi they have from Ecuador. Picked up a pkg that was from Mexico and it wasn't as good as the Ecuador...

                                                  1. One thing to watch out for with TJ's frozen fish is leaky packaging. If the plastic is loose from the fish at all get a different one. It could have just happened when they stocked the freezer, or it could have happened long enough before for the fish to have become freezer-burned. Go ahead and ask me how I know THAT...

                                                    I usually get ocean fish - salmon of any sort, rockfish or Alaskan cod - but tilapia is good treated sort of like sand dabs or other small flatfish, just seasoned and then dredged in flour and the excess shaken off, then sautée them in butter, olive oil or a combination for 4-5 minutes per side. A very nice variation is to preheat the oven to 400º, add some chopped capers to one of TJ's fresh salsas, cook the fish as above for about four minutes, then turn it over, put about 1/4 cup of the salsa atop each one and stick the pan in the oven for five minutes. Very good with steamed rice.

                                                    Oh, and we love "All-TJ" salmon-burgers made with the good salmon patties (cook'em frozen!) on toasted English muffins smeared with the wasabi mayonnaise, plus a slice of tomato. Use the "British" whole-wheat muffins if you wanna feel virtuous.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                                      I agree - the salmon patties are terrific and easy but getting those suckers separated from each other is a pain in the neck! Imagine wrestling with frozen salmon hockey-like pucks...egads!

                                                      1. re: taylor_blair

                                                        Yeah, my SO had a trip to the emergency room because of those salmon patties. For some reason he told the paramedic he'd been slicing bagels. Maybe loss of blood confused him.

                                                        The patties are good, though!

                                                    2. Try TJ's frozen flounder filet stuffed with crabmeat. You zap it for a few seconds then bake it for 30 minutes, no need to thaw, quick and very delicious.

                                                      1. I love their tuna. I defrost it and rub with a bit of toasted sesame oil and grill or pan sear just for a minute...that reminds me...I have some in my freezer!

                                                        1. I like the ocean fish too(salmon, ahi, etc). Especially since I just, duh on my part, started reading the fine print at the grocery store- half the stuff is previously frozen!!