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Trader Joes frozen fish fillets, your opinion?

I saw Trader Joes has frozen salmon (including wild caught), New England scallops, halibut and other types of fish. Have you ever tried any of these? Any good? Crab cakes and salmon burgers?

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  1. I buy TJs frozen fish filets all the time and also have purchased the shrimp and scallops. I would suggest you purchase only the frozen raw shrimp as I thought the texture of the cooked shrimp was a little unappealing, but everyone else scarfed it up.

    On another thread, one of the posters suggest you check the packaging of the froze fish prior to selecting it. I concur with this. Sometimes the packaging breaks down and it seems the vacuum around the fish is gone. Sometimes the quality of these packs is not as good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: janetms383

      That was probably me. I think these packages sometimes tear in handling, and if the vacuum seal is broken and the fish somehow thaws a bit and re-freezes, as can also happen in bulk-handling situations, it can become "freezer burned". I have had exactly one such package, and it was pretty bad, though of course they replaced it.

      We live largely on TJ's frozen fish. Lots of kinds of wild salmon, and the rockfish, cod and mahi-mahi are always great. Had a lunch today of re-fried mahi-mahi in a sandwich, and I'm still grinning about it...

    2. I once read a flyer from TJ's explaining, if memory serves, that their fish is flash-frozen and vacuum-packed at sea, making it fresher than other frozen or even fresh-caught fish. I have been pleased with the quality.

      5 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        "fish is flash-frozen and vacuum-packed at sea, making it fresher than other frozen or even fresh-caught fish", but it's frozen, how can it be "fresher" than unfrozen, also known as fresh.

        1. re: jfood

          If by "fresh" you mean "never frozen," then it can't. But if by "fresh" you mean "less deteriorated," then flash-frozen fish can be a good bet.

          Some "fresh" (never frozen) fish spends several days or even a week or more on ice before it gets to market. And sometimes that's a little longer than is ideal. In such cases, the fish may well have had a better flavor and texture if it had been flash-frozen immediately after being caught.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            agreed, but it can never be fresher. Once frozen it can never be fresh

            but if the choice is "less deteriorated" or flash frozen, jfood's grabbing some meat.

            1. re: jfood

              Don't underestimate flash-frozen fish. Nearly everything served in a sushi bar has been through the freezer, and that's some of the best fish out there.

              As a matter of fact, the captain of the charter boat I took out of Kona harbor last year recommended freezing and defrosting yellowfin tuna before eating it. He said it improved the flavor and texture. We had some (unfrozen) tuna the night it was caught, and more (frozen and defrosted) the next day. I can't say I disagree with him.

        2. re: greygarious

          I too have had good experiences with flash-frozen fish. If fresh is not available (or if it's prohibitively expensive as it often is) it's a great alternative.

        3. Generally quite good,. Not just the filets, but also the steaks, i.e. swordfish, halibut, salmon steaks.

          1. I bought them once upon recommendation, and thought they were far inferior to fresh. Why not just buy their fresh fish?

            3 Replies
            1. re: cettlinger

              Reason #1 - it's really expensive. Reason #2 - almost all of their fresh salmon is that disgusting farmed stuff. Reason #3 - virtually any mass-market fish you buy will have been flash-frozen at sea, so the TJ's frozen stuff is simply vacuum-wrapped at that stage. I've not had any I thought was noticeably inferior to any but the most high-end off-the-boat stuff, and we simply cannot afford to eat that several times a week.

              1. re: Will Owen

                And, not all of us have access to a good fresh fish market!!

                1. re: janetms383

                  I do have access if not working, FL and all, but not all is always fresh and have found that grocery stores and places like Trader Joes have been there with a friend is just fine. Sure fresh is better, always, but, cost, time and availability weigh in. Mine aren't open during the week and not close to me so grocery is all I have. I use the best I can get and have found most a pretty descent these days. I poach, bake, broil and steam and use some in fish. I like to cook fish at least a couple of times a week. Be creative, skewers, lettuce wraps, wonton wraps, lots of ideas which are great and many are very quick and easy with many ingredients in your fridge. I'm sure you all realize that. Many ways to use fish. I use white fish weekly and love salmon, scallops, crab, even canned when I can't get fresh or it is too pricey. I won't pay that much. I love scallops, oysters, mussels

                  I make with a great cream broth over pasta with fennel and onions. It is amazing. I can't eat enough. whole wheat pasta, fennel, onion, cream white wine, fresh herbs, mussels some artichokes and scallions. It is great and simple 20 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

                  Fresh fish, great but not always available so so stores do offer good frozen replacements and they aren't all that bad.

            2. if you have access to a good fish monger there is absolutely no reason to buy frozen.

              If you do not read other posts, since jfood is fortunate to have access.

              7 Replies
              1. re: jfood

                "absolutely no reason"???
                Sorry jfood, AHan can name a few reasons. AHan likes to keep food available in the freezer so he doesn't have to run out to the store every time he wants to make dinner. AHan might want to save a few bucks, so when he sees a good deal he may stock up, as AHan's fish monger is very expensive.

                1. re: AHan

                  haha I agree with all of this. CoryKatherine likes to shop once a week, likes to eat fish, likes to save money....likes Trader Joe's frozen fish and eats it a few times a week for these reasons.

                  1. re: AHan

                    particularly we like the Mahi Mahi, the tilapia, the cod and the wild-caught salmon

                    1. re: CoryKatherine

                      The rockfish, which I think is sold as snapper, is also delicious any way you cook it. My favorite way so far is to put a layer of TJ's tomato-and-olive-oil bruschetta sauce on the bottom of a 6"x 9" deep baking dish, putting in two layers of this fish, cut crosswise to fit, then topping with the rest of the sauce and baking at 350º for about 25 minutes. When it's 130º in the middle it's ready to take out and rest for a bit. Great on rice or just with a side salad.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        awesome suggestion. we basically season and broil everything. occasionally i'll get creative and poach or sautee but i haven't baked any of the fish yet. i'll try this this weekend!

                      2. re: CoryKatherine

                        My tilapia in parchment with pasta and fresh veggies and white wine is amazing, simple 1 pan and amazing.

                        Also, my bourbon maple glazed salmon with sliced grilled onion rings over sauteed chard with maple bacon and sliced apples, served with a simple apple brown sugar and white wine glaze.

                        Mahi Mahi with my lime and lemon citrus vinaigrette with honey and chipoltes over grilled sauteed mahi mahi in a wine marinade with garlic and citrus. Served with a creamy vinaigrette with a spicy creamed corn casserole and grilled lima beans with some roasted red peppers.

                        Fish tacos are great, a sour cream and chipolte and lime, some cabbage, roasted tomatoes and peppers, some fresh avacado and mango if available and some light simple chipolte BBQ as a base with some fresh shredded montery jack or pepper jack my choice. Simple and great flavor.

                        Just a few of my favorites, glad to share, none really hard, mostly things we all have on hand, great with any store bought fish.

                  2. All the fish I've bought at TJ's were iodine-flavored and tasted far inferior to other fish I've purchased. The scallops, in particular. I won't purchase fish/shellfish from TJs again.

                    1. I bought a ackage of Dover Sole that was likely Flounder and not Dover Sole, but it was quite good. Pastierre

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Kelli2006

                        Kelli, I just brought home a package of TJ's Alaskan "Dover Sole." I need some inspiration on how to prepare - will you share your recipe? Thanks.

                        1. re: dearshakti

                          I'll share mine if interested, what flavors do you like? I have Asian, standard as far as lemon, I love to bake but broil is good, I also have some with bread crumbs and pecans. Just offering.

                          1. re: kchurchill5

                            Asian and standard, please. Also I'm not sure how long the sole should cook, it is thin like trout and I wonder if following these recipes that say "bake for 15" will be too much. Thanks!

                            1. re: dearshakti

                              I make flounder all the time I'll give you 3 ways, pan seared with or without bread crumbs, broiled same way or baked with a little white wine and bread crumbs.

                              I will give you an asian glaze I make with a simple suze and some glazed veggies. Let me look up and be right back, just need to access my computer on shore. I'm offshore fishing, Data entry for the crew, just need to access other computer.

                              1. re: kchurchill5

                                Baked fish:
                                2 lbs of filets (adjust ingredients according to how much fish)
                                1/4 cup diced scallions
                                1 tablespoon parsley
                                1 teaspoon paprika
                                1 lemon thin sliced
                                Salt and pepper to taste
                                1/2 cup melted butter
                                1/2 cup white wine
                                2 tablespoons lemon juice

                                Add to a PAM spread pan or greased pan with the scallions, lay the fish down and top with seasoning, salt and pepper then drizzle with butter lemon slices and put the lemon juice and wine around the fish. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness.

                                For pan seared I do the same basically no different, if pan seared, I dredge the fish in an egg, then bread crumbs with the same seasoning as above and then pan saute in olive oil and butter. Brown and then remove. Deglaze with the wine and lemon and do the same think.

                                If baked, I don't add the wine, I dredge, and then put in a lightly greased pan, bake same temp, just no wine for this.

                                You can really alter your herbs or the wine, some sherry or garlic or not or even some other seasoning. I personally like to have it fresh tasting and taste the fish not the seasoning. That is why I stick with some wine and lemon. Using some fresh citrus, orange and grapefruit also make a great like sauce instead of the white wine, but you need to counter with some honey and I add a little red pepper. This works with both fried or just baked. You bake the citrus portions just as well with the fish. To me citrus is an aqcuired taste, a bit more tart and not as well liked, but that is just my thought.

                                Here is the Asian inspired this is bake a lot more but I like baked best:
                                4 fillets
                                about 2 tablespoons each sake,lime, ginger, sesame, terriyaki, or soy and honey
                                I like to add mushrooms, shitake is great thin sliced but crimini will work and some scallions, I use the green and white duced fube,
                                1/2 roasted red pepper or you can use fresh thin sliced
                                Jasmine rice or your favorite rice.
                                - Sauteed Shiitake Mushrooms, recipe follows

                                I like to line a thin casserole with parchment. Mix the sake, soy or terriyaki, honey and , add the filets and all the vegetables.

                                Lay the fish flat in a baking dish. In a bowl, whisk together the sake, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, honey, and
                                sesame seeds. Pour over the fish and let marinate for up to 30 minutes. Arrange 1 fish fillet on each sheet of aluminum
                                foil an, lime, ginger and I also add red pepper for some sake and marinade the fish for a while. I pan sautee the mushrooms and some soy and s/p and sesame oil and then add to the fish mixture I add the scallions red pepper and any other vegetables you want. Some water chestnuts and sesame seeds are also good and even some zucchini thin sliced or carrots thin sliced is great for this. Add to the fish, Cover and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes. I love to serve the vegetables over some good rice or celephane noodles is also very good.. I also do a fried fish with an Asian sauce but not for this fish, You need a much thicker fish.

                                I do use this similar marinade for shrimp, very good pan fried and served over a bed of the peppers, and mushrooms.. I have several other recipes but too much flavor. I like fish as fish not sauce. This still is very mild to me. I hate lots of sauces

                                Hollandaise is great however and so is a simple white wine and dill and fresh herbs. A simple bechemel then some wine and cream with dill and lemon is classic which is great over the fish. Roll the fish around some bread crumbs mixed with butter and some asparagus, thin sliced scallions and red peppers. Bake in a casserole and pour the sauce over at the end. Great fish roll up. You can also roll them around any vegetables you like and then dip in egg and bread crumbs and pan saute and serve with the sauce.

                                Last one. Mix some ginger and apricot or mango preserves and spread on the fish. Then top with a mixture of fine ground pistachios and bread crumbs. Top and then serve with a small dip of blue cheese and white wine as a light glaze. Very tasty. A bit too much for me, but still good..

                                Also spread with a mix of honey and current jelly and top with bread crumbs, bake and then top with a pecan sauce with a pinot noir.

                                Well all for me. Hope that helps in any way. Change according to what you have and what you like that is how it should be. I never follow a recipe, just instincts and my tastes. Enjoy

                                Add the oil and heat. When the oil is hot, add the
                                mushrooms and saute until they begin to give up their liquid, about 4 minutes. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, sake, and
                                orange juice and zest and cook for 2 minutes.

                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                  The baked fish was a big hit. Thank you!

                          2. re: dearshakti

                            I prepared in a very simple method that is a variation of sole meuniere.
                            I dredged the fish in flour and seasoned with S&P. It is then seared in a hot skillet with butter on both sides and kept warm in the oven while I prepared a pan sauce of white wine, lemon, butter, shallots and capers.

                            When the sauce is finished, I pour it over the fish, and served with with a green salad and rice pilaf.

                        2. I buy the frozen mahi mahi that is in sort of an Italian dressing type of marinade. I keep it on hand in the freezer for those days when I just don't want to run around for something fresh. I bake it per the pkg instructions and we find it quite good (although I don't generally like frozen fish...). I picked up some of their frozen wild gulf of Mexico white shrimp last week but haven't tried them yet...

                          1. If you buy the shrimp make sure you buy the frozen "raw" shrimp, not the pre-cooked. I have noticed a big difference between the two. I like the frozen Wild Alaskan Salmon, but am not partial to any of the other frozen fish fillets. I've had quite a few that seemed frost bitten by the time I cooked them. Hope that helps. Those are the only items I've tried so far.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: hbpthomas

                              I had I think Mahi Mahi, shrimp and salmon. All good.

                              1. re: hbpthomas

                                I too have noticed the cooked shrimp seems, well, muddy to me. I liked the raw with shells, but they don't seem to carry it anymore.

                                1. re: hbpthomas

                                  Good point on the shrimp - I only buy raw. Usually precooked are to my taste, over cooked...

                                2. From T.J.'s i'll buy frozen shrimp or any thin white fillet, but whgen it comes to the thicker cuts (halibut, mahi mahi etc) or salmon, i'd rather stick with fresh since the result i've had from Trader Joe's have been poor.

                                  1. I like to keep an assortment of their fillets in my freezer for backup/reserve cooking purposes (ie, when I'm broke or too lazy/too busy to get to the freshfish markets). The vacuum seal keeps them in good shape far longer than if I buy "fresh" fish, wrap it and freeze it.

                                    In general I've found the cod, halibut, and snapper quite good, especially in dishes such as fish soup or spicy Mexican dishes where there are a lot of other flavors at play. The salmon is "ok" but not as good as fresh, still, I'll keep some on hand. I just had some last night which I'd had marinating in garlic and olive oil for a while and broiled, it came out great.) I don't like their pre-seasoned or marinated stuff, though.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: sockii

                                      Try cooking them in a parchment packet. I make a large 12" circle of parchment paper and set in a large plate. on 1 side of the circle add the fish, drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper, some dill, maybe parsley, a lemon slice and then add veggies, thin slices of zuchinni, carrots, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, capers, anything you want. I also add a little white wine or broth is good too and a small 1/2 teaspoon of butter. Fold over the parchment to make a half moon and fold the edges over. Put on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 for about 20-30 minutes. Depends on the type of fish. I make cod, halibut, flounder, tilapia and even with shrimp. This is a great simple dish. And get family and friends involved, they can stuff and make their own packets, use a sharpie to write their initials on the top. It is really fun but the fish comes out perfect. Also ... if you have some rice or thin pasta (pre cooked), put this on the bottom of the pouch. Then it is all in one. So cool.

                                      My favorite, mussels, clams, shrimp and chunks of cod and lots of veggies, white wine, butter, dill and fresh herbs and of course thin vermicelli. All in one dinner and perfectly cooked.

                                      Pre cooked fish and shrimp would be great for this. I love fresh but frozen do work at times.