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McDonald's - A paean on the filet-o-fish (FOF)

rworange Jun 5, 2009 12:43 PM

It is as insidious as crack with its false promises and lies.

Eat fish… it is healthier … it whispers … muffled under layers of tartar sauce and a coat of melted cheese … its voice constrained by a fried coating.

And that is the genius of McDonald’s. They didn’t overdo it with lettuce. It knows what it is. Besides lettuce cools the sandwich and distracts from the soft comfort of each bite. Lettuce is jarring. It calls attention away from the fish. It wilts. That sort of softness is not a good thing. If one must have veggies, there is the catsup for the fries.

Opening the ocean blue paper clamshell box, the delicate round FOF is revealed. It is protected like an oyster in shell.

McDonald’s is scientific about buns for all its sandwiches. There is never too much or too little … it is always just right. There’s a slight sweetness to the bun contrasting with the tangy, classic, creamy sauce … McDonald’s does tartar sauce right. No pickle slice on the FOF, the tartar sauce provides that.

A thin, yet sturdy coating keeps the fish within juicy. The FOF is not afraid of of tasting like fish, the white square fillet, so to speak, nicely flaky and rarely overcooked or dry.

Should one choose the fries, there is that extra jolt of salt, evocative of the brisk ocean air. The American take of fish and chips.

It is a sandwich about all the elements working together yet letting the fish star as it should, the tartar sauce co-star .

Best paired with the orange drink … the delicate fish is complemented by the lighter floral yet Tangy flavor. While a cheeseburger can stand up to the bold taste of a cola, even bubbles are too sharp here.

It is an occasional treat to be savored as fois gras, lobster dipped in melted butter or decadent cake, too rich to eat every day.

- with acknowledgement to applehome, my muse for this post.


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  1. f
    ferret RE: rworange Jun 5, 2009 01:24 PM

    At 380 calories and 18g of fat it's a touch "healthier" than a cheeseless Quarter Pounder and better than nearly all of the chicken offerings. Pretty guilt-free from my perspective (although, as a teen, I could easily down four at a sitting).

    1. applehome RE: rworange Jun 5, 2009 01:43 PM

      Thank you.

      1. bayoucook RE: rworange Jun 5, 2009 01:47 PM

        I had one a couple of weeks ago and almost went back for another!

        1. n
          NewDude RE: rworange Jun 5, 2009 02:47 PM

          Are you insane? FOF is deep fried. It's fried in lard, covered with salt and fat, and covered with overly processed carbs.

          It's a fun parody, but still...if you put lipstick on a pig...

          5 Replies
          1. re: NewDude
            ferret RE: NewDude Jun 5, 2009 03:01 PM

            It's a little less poetic, but equally satisfying:

            Fish Filet Patty:
            Fish Filet (Hoki and Pollock), water, food starch-modified, yellow corn flour, bleached wheat flour, salt, whey, dextrose, dried yeast, sugar, sodium polyphosphate, potassium polyphosphate, cellulose gum, paprika and turmeric extract (color), natural flavors (plant source). Prepared in vegetable oil ((may contain one of the following: Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness), dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent).

            1. re: ferret
              ferret RE: ferret Jun 5, 2009 03:04 PM

              In the grand scheme of things, that's not a bad list of ingredients. And yummy.

              1. re: ferret
                gryphonskeeper RE: ferret Jun 6, 2009 04:50 PM

                anti-foaming agent? Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I gotta have some of that!

              2. re: NewDude
                jayt90 RE: NewDude Jun 5, 2009 04:37 PM

                McDonald's threw out the lard a few years ago.

                I only go into a McDonalds two or three times a year, and I always order Filet 'o Fish, small fries, and milk. That's almost healthy.

                The best part is that they usually have to fry the fish on the spot, and it is very freshly cooked. I just have to watch to make sure the fries are just as fresh.

                1. re: NewDude
                  im_nomad RE: NewDude Jun 7, 2009 02:08 PM

                  NewDude, you sure sound anti-McDonalds with your lard-rants i this and the other McD's thread.

                  you sound hungry.

                2. Glencora RE: rworange Jun 5, 2009 04:48 PM

                  I had one (no cheese) a couple of months ago and it was *all Chowhound's fault.* I hadn't been to Mc D's in maybe 20 years and hadn't missed it, but every year around Lent there seems to be a thread about fast food fish sandwiches and even though I'm not Catholic, it gets me thinking... So I indulged. I have to say that the smooth, round, squishy bun and the crunchy fish worked for me. It goes to show that the "chains" board is indeed a bad, bad influence.

                  1. podunkboy RE: rworange Jun 5, 2009 05:09 PM

                    I've lost 23 pounds since New Years, and I've avoided all earthly temptation (okay, I've stayed out of most drive-throughs), but I really want a fishy-fish sandwich tonight after work. Must...resist...tartary-sauce...temptation....

                    1. coney with everything RE: rworange Jun 6, 2009 04:26 AM

                      I had the craving a couple of days ago, so I bought frozen battered halibut from TJ's and baked it. I already had sliced sharp Cheddar (not pasteurized process cheese food like substance) in the fridge, and bottled tartar sauce and kaiser rolls.

                      Skipped the lettuce. Put it all together and it was pretty tasty! That halibut from TJ's is like grown up fish sticks. Nice flavor and non-mushy texture.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: coney with everything
                        NewDude RE: coney with everything Jun 6, 2009 02:56 PM

                        You are a shining beacon of light, my friend. I woulda added the lettuce though. They sell some soy burgers which are pretty tasty as well, imo.

                      2. k
                        kkachurak RE: rworange Jun 6, 2009 05:40 PM

                        This inspired me and the lady friend to go out and get some FOF's just now. Along with some Hi-C Orange drink. Damn - it was worth the calories.

                        1. ipsedixit RE: rworange Jun 8, 2009 11:13 PM

                          I once trained for a marathon by subsisting entirely on Filet-O-Fish, vanilla milkshakes and baked apple pies for an entire week.

                          Somehow the fact that it only has a half-slice of cheese product makes it all that much more appealing.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            kkachurak RE: ipsedixit Jun 9, 2009 06:01 AM

                            What kind of marathon is that?!

                          2. m
                            moh RE: rworange Jun 9, 2009 06:18 AM

                            Darn you Rworange! Evil temptress begone!

                            I had completely forgotten about the existence of the McD FOF until I saw this thread. Never thought about this entity, had completely banished it from my existence. See no evil, eat no evil.

                            But I have to confess I love these things. I know it is wrong, but I love them from the bottom of my stomach. It is a never ending passion, a relationship that can only end in love handles and misery, but all-consuming (ie I will consume all).

                            must resist...

                            1. FoodFuser RE: rworange Jun 11, 2009 03:09 AM

                              As a pimpled high school student who was proud to wear the paper hat of McD's in the early 70's, my favorite assigned station within that industrial leviathan was "fish and fried pies". The station had its own deep fat fryer, split to 2 chambers. The fry racks resembled a ribrack, where the product was inserted horizontally. Pies were on the rack of a dozen; fish fillets were 6 well-separated chambers.

                              The pies were a no-brainer. Fry 'em, slip into the paper sleeves that even in that naive age were labeled as "caution: filling is hot".

                              The FOF however offered room for artistry. Dropping the 6 fillets was a buzzer-timed event when the sensors assumed it was done.

                              The real artistry came in the steaming of the buns. The fried fillet was placed on the bun, the cute little 1/2 piece of cheese applied, and the perfectly squeezed tartar sauce from a calibrated caulking gun made it ready for the steamer. The assembled sandos were placed on the stainless steel plate of the steamer, the lid was brought down, and then the stopcock lever of the steamer was pressed to release the steam. The steam is what makes the FOF. We wrapped them immediately to hold the moisture.

                              These days I satisfy the FOF craving with a biannual visit to the Big Arches. To assure freshness, I request FOF without tartar sauce, with the sauce to be supplied in a plastic cup on the side. The fries unsalted please, to ensure fresh frying. Then with perfectly fresh FOF and fries, I salt and Sauce and enjoy the tartar also as a dipping sauce for the fries.

                              I'd love to hear from the newer generation as to the present McD's fabrication methods of the FOF.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: FoodFuser
                                chompie RE: FoodFuser Feb 10, 2013 04:27 PM

                                Reviving this post for the annual lenten season of the FOF. Great tribute and also great description of the process by foodfuser. I too get the fresher fish by asking for no tarter, but will have to try the fry technique too.. Did you have to make six at a time so several just sat around?
                                So anyways to all FOF fans, I highly suggest you also try the new Fish McBites. Its nice to actually have two fish choices, and they have a good flavor.

                                1. re: chompie
                                  KaimukiMan RE: chompie Feb 11, 2013 08:06 PM

                                  and getting rid of the tartar sauce brings it down to 300 calories, and almost cuts the fat in half

                                  1. re: KaimukiMan
                                    James Cristinian RE: KaimukiMan Feb 12, 2013 07:16 AM

                                    I get a double with no cheese and scrape off most of the tartar sauce.

                                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                                      chompie RE: KaimukiMan Feb 12, 2013 06:09 PM

                                      not when you add lots of mayo instead! but i add the healthy with my lettuce shreds :)

                                2. k
                                  kevin RE: rworange Feb 11, 2013 08:27 PM

                                  That is quite an ode.

                                  Now I want one of those things, and I had sworn them off for the past four years at least.

                                  Damnitttt !!!!

                                  1. k
                                    kevin RE: rworange Feb 11, 2013 08:28 PM

                                    Definitely foodie pornography at its finest hour.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: kevin
                                      ipsedixit RE: kevin Feb 12, 2013 07:48 AM

                                      "Shades of Filet-O-Fish"?

                                      1. re: kevin
                                        Gypsy Jan RE: kevin Feb 12, 2013 12:06 PM

                                        Oh yeah.

                                        When I was working in San Diego, nothing broke up the seventy mile drive better than a FOF sandwich or Egg McMuffin, depending on the time of day.

                                        Not too heavy or too big and very, very satisfying. It gave me the energy to survive the upcoming twelve hours.

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