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Fish Sticks--yes, fish sticks!

randyjl Jul 25, 2011 07:09 PM

I remember how good fish sticks were back when I was a kid. The best ones I have found today are Schwann's. Can anyone recommend and grocery store brands? No minced fish! I know some foodies are screaming at the screen right now. Sorry about that. BTW, we don't have Trader Joe's in Dallas yet. They are coming!

  1. c
    camper Jul 12, 2013 08:06 PM

    We are not near a TJs (three hour drive) but when we got there I bought the fishsticks and the cod as suggested. The cod is real good. The fishticks are like I remember as a kid but too small. Yes the breading is thinner but the ratio of breading to fish in not much better than store bought... but they are really tasty.

    1. j
      John Francis Jan 26, 2013 08:30 AM

      When Trader Joe's comes your way, try the Lightly Breaded Fish Sticks Reduced Fat - I like them. Also the breaded fish nuggets, which are pollock. Other breaded fish such as the mackerel and cod are good but nothing like sticks and somewhat more expensive.

      1. Bill Hunt Jan 25, 2013 07:33 PM

        Good thread.

        Once, while never haute cuisine, fish sticks used to be quite good - back until about the late 70's, or early 80's.

        Then, too many corporations decided that they would take, what were once considered "trash fish," shred them, bleach them, put a thicker batter on them, and felt that no one would ever know the difference.

        Well, some actually did notice, though probably not everyone. It might be tough to compare, if the current crop is all that one has ever known - same for fish-n-chips. If you have never had great plates, how would anyone expect you to know?

        Will now try Costco's Trident, as recommended.


        1. EWSflash Jan 25, 2013 06:32 PM

          I liked them as a kid, too. In fact, I should have requested them more often.

          1. Chemicalkinetics Jan 25, 2013 02:32 PM

            Gay fish.

            1. linguafood Jan 25, 2013 02:12 PM

              Well, well, randyjl -- funny you would mention fish sticks, just a mere 18 months ago :-D

              Perhaps this thread had subconsciously wormed its way into my brain, but I woke up yesterday with an inexplicable craving for fish sticks... which I likely haven't had in 30+ years.

              Clueless about brands in the US of A, I picked up a box of Gordon's haddock fish sticks, and baked 'em in the oven until nice, crispy & brown. They were tasty.

              Although they would not have been as tasty without my homemade tartar sauce, courtesy of an Ina Garten recipe:


              First tartar sauce I've ever made, liked it a lot.

              Mmmmmmfish sticks. Almost like a time machine.

              4 Replies
              1. re: linguafood
                Bill Hunt Jan 25, 2013 07:38 PM

                I am surprised to see "haddock fish sticks," as that was once the more common fish in "fish sticks." I thought that all majors had gone to something else.

                Will have to see if any place around me has those, since I miss my haddock.

                Interesting, and thank you,


                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  linguafood Jan 26, 2013 03:43 PM

                  Yeah, a lot of them are made with pollock, apparently.

                  1. re: linguafood
                    Bill Hunt Jan 26, 2013 07:59 PM

                    To me, that was a "recent" change. Once, haddock was the primary fish, in the versions that I knew. In about the 1980's, that changed to "bleached fish, ground and breaded," Over the years, the breading has grown thicker and thicker, while the fish has become less and less interesting.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                      linguafood Jan 27, 2013 07:59 AM

                      Well, admittedly not having kept track of the changes in fish stick composition over the last 3 decades, I can only say these (Gorton's, haddock) hit the spot. I also wouldn't trust my own nostalgia for how much better things were when I was young.

                      After all, I ate canned ravioli back then, and enjoyed them.

              2. j
                John Francis Dec 12, 2012 07:20 PM

                We always had Mrs. Paul's when I was growing up. These days I like Trader Joe's fish sticks - lightly breaded, reduced fat, very tasty. Also the battered fish nuggets, oblong and made with pollock. If TJ's has made it to Dallas yet, give these a try.

                1. rcallner Dec 12, 2012 04:32 PM

                  Well if you want to get foodier about it, it's really nice to take a whitefish fillet (snapper is good), moisten it with seasoned buttermilk or some combination of sour cream/mayo/milk (you get the drift), then cover it with dried potato flakes (not buds) as in instant mashed potatoes from a box, then fry them 'til brown. And tartar sauce would be fine with this (it's not just an expletive any more). Or - mix some mayo with minced cilantro, minced garlic, and sliced fresh seeded jalapeno. That's really good.

                  1. Bacardi1 Dec 12, 2012 03:11 PM

                    Commercial fish sticks - "Mrs. Paul's" or "Gorton's" will ALWAYS have a place in my heart as a comfort food from my past. Remember them fondly - always served with blue-box Kraft mac & cheese on the side, & a salad (we were a HUGE green salad family; very few meals were served witout one).

                    These days when I get a hankering for this, I sometimes sub in Velveeta mac shells & cheese, & nearly always toss in some brocolli florets in with the pasta so I can pretend it's healthy - lol!! But the fish sticks with a side of homemade tartar sauce stand as is.

                    Sometimes I do make a healthier more modern version of "fish sticks", hand-cutting "sticks" from a fresh cod filet, breading, & baking them. Definitely delicious. But not the same as the old comfort-food dish. When I have a hankering for that, that's what I make. :)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bacardi1
                      latindancer Dec 12, 2012 04:16 PM

                      <we were a HUGE green salad family: very few meals were served without one).

                      My family also. It was the way I was raised and the way I've raised my family. Anything goes as long as there's a salad along with it.

                      1. re: Bacardi1
                        HillJ Dec 14, 2012 09:09 AM

                        We take a slab of mac n cheese (cut from a m & c batch baked in a 13 x 9 tray) and a breaded cod filet with a smear of mustard-mayo (bits of relish for good measure) and oven bake the two together on a soft roll until hot and gooey. Delicious.

                      2. s
                        seamunky Dec 12, 2012 10:08 AM

                        I LOVE fish sticks. I even like the "Fish Bites" by Sea-Pak. They are round and there's lots of breading but it surrounds a tender cube of fish fillet in the center.

                        When I crave fish sticks, I'm too impatient to cook them in the oven or toaster oven. I will defrost them in the microwave and then crisp them up on a carbon steel pan.

                        1. 4
                          4X4 Dec 10, 2012 06:02 AM

                          Kanye West likes them! (See the South Park episode about him and putting fish sticks in his mouth.)

                          1. TXMandy Dec 10, 2012 05:26 AM

                            If you have a Sam's Club membership, High Liner cod fillets are our favorite quick, battered, oven-ready fish we've found anywhere.. It tastes fresh and doesn't leave any weird grease like most boxed fish fillets.


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: TXMandy
                              Dave B Jan 26, 2013 02:42 PM

                              I have a Sam's Club membership and based on this recommendation I tried the High Liner fillets. Thank-you for the tip! They are really tasty and seem to be of good quality. The wonderful crunchy batter isn't greasy at all and they cook up perfectly following the package directions.

                              I just mix up some ketchup and mayo as my "special sauce" and am in fish-stick heaven (although not technically "sticks").

                              Thanks again.

                              1. re: Dave B
                                TXMandy Feb 19, 2013 06:47 PM

                                Your welcome! I'm so glad you enjoyed them Dave! Another frozen, quick entree we really like is the Fast Fixin' Country Fried Steaks from Sam's. They're the thin, diner type patties and are great for a quick meal or on a sandwich. 10 to a pack with 2 large bags of peppered gravy. Give them a try if you're into that kind of thing!

                            2. John E. Dec 9, 2012 08:39 PM

                              The beer battered cod at Aldi is about 85% as good as the same stuff from Schwann's at about 20% of the cost.

                              1. f
                                foodieX2 Dec 9, 2012 05:56 PM

                                My son has been begging me to buy the Gorton's fish tenders and their tilapia sticks since he had them at a friends. He never liked them before but I guess these are actual whole fish sticks, not the minced/processed fish ones. He said they taste great and are super crunchy. I keep meaning to look for them at the store.


                                1. c
                                  camper Dec 9, 2012 05:16 PM

                                  I can find fish sticks all over the place and it doesn't matter to me if they are flaked and formed or solid fish. What I CANNOT find is the thin breading I grew up on. It was crispy not gooey with oil. There was a lot of fish you could see when you bit into one. I misssssssssssssssss them!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: camper
                                    Rodzilla Dec 9, 2012 11:31 PM

                                    try trader joes or one of the more expensive brands at whole foods

                                  2. a
                                    AnneMarieDear Aug 1, 2011 09:10 AM

                                    I use the Costco fish sticks in my fish tacos. Easy!

                                    1. r
                                      redfish62 Aug 1, 2011 09:07 AM

                                      I like the Heinz Zesty Cocktail Sauce for dipping

                                      1. p
                                        pj26 Aug 1, 2011 08:46 AM

                                        I love fish sticks, or 'fish fingers' (what we call them in the UK). The best have flakey moist fish in the middle with a real crunch to the crust. My guilty pleasure is fish finger sandwiches, the cheaper and squishier the white bread the better! My preferred brand is the Sainsbury's Taste the Difference range, but obviously this is only available in the UK.

                                        1. v
                                          valerie Aug 1, 2011 08:41 AM

                                          The Trader Joe's fish sticks are good and also the battered cod filets are good too.

                                          1. e
                                            escondido123 Jul 31, 2011 10:32 PM

                                            I have decided my true love is the tartar sauce, any brand from any place, combine that with whatever fish sticks and a wedge of lemon and I would be thrilled. PS Have not eaten fish sticks in years and probably won't in the next year.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: escondido123
                                              sedimental Aug 1, 2011 09:12 AM

                                              Same here. I make my tartar really simple. Best foods mayo, a squirt of lemon, S & P, maybe some garlic- *secret weapon* - Farman's Genuine Dill Pickles (no substitutes!). The Farman's Genuine pickles are really, really "dilly" and they are soft (I don't want my tartar sauce to crunch). I don't like sweet relish in my tartar...I like the dill. Same goes for potato salad and mac salad...gotta be dill pickles.

                                              1. re: sedimental
                                                escondido123 Dec 9, 2012 05:50 PM

                                                Sweet relish for me.

                                            2. a
                                              ansluasi Jul 28, 2011 09:57 PM

                                              Not a fish fan myself, but my husband swears by the ones from Aldi's (they only sell one brand), which are also about the cheapest ones out there. Whenever I go away for the weekend I buy him a box and he has himself a little fish stick and tater tot pigfest:)

                                              10 Replies
                                              1. re: ansluasi
                                                randyjl Jul 31, 2011 06:46 PM

                                                I got some of the Costco fish sticks. They are great. Reminds me of elementary school too many decades ago! Thanks! Now if I could find some good bottled tatrar sauce. I tried making several homeades and was not satisfied.

                                                1. re: randyjl
                                                  sedimental Jul 31, 2011 07:45 PM

                                                  Don't you need some tater tots to go with those fish sticks? :)

                                                  1. re: sedimental
                                                    ipsedixit Jul 31, 2011 09:00 PM

                                                    Why do fish sticks get a bad rap? Done properly, they're what people refer to as "Fish" in that thing called "Fish N Chips".

                                                    And tater tots. Food of the gods when they want to be playful. Never snicker at tater tots.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                      sedimental Jul 31, 2011 09:28 PM

                                                      Who is giving fish sticks or tater tots a bad rap?

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
                                                        Perilagu Khan Dec 10, 2012 07:50 AM

                                                        The last guy who snickered at tater tots went home air freight. In little, tiny pieces.

                                                      2. re: sedimental
                                                        Jelly71 Dec 11, 2012 12:35 PM

                                                        When I was a kid it was Van de Camp's fish sticks with ketchup to dip them in and blue box mac and cheese as a side dish. On those occasions I want to feel 6 years old again, that is my go to meal.

                                                        1. re: Jelly71
                                                          laliz Dec 13, 2012 10:18 AM

                                                          Van de Camps. EXACTLY


                                                      3. re: randyjl
                                                        FoodFuser Jul 31, 2011 08:48 PM

                                                        Trident, distributed through Costco, makes a very efficient whole fillet product. And that's what we need.

                                                        There is no need to link them to Tater Tots. Unless you want to.

                                                        Good tartar sauce starts with good mayonnaise, and follows from dry ingredients of dried parsley, coarse ground celery seed and cumin, rehydrated with vinegar. Fresh: minced onions, parsley stems, green onion hollow stems, capers. Hint of fish sauce and lemon juice. If you're wanting more sour, add in some citrus salt.

                                                        1. re: randyjl
                                                          TXMandy Dec 10, 2012 05:19 AM

                                                          Randyjl, this is super simple and delicious! Everything will probably be in your pantry to throw it together. I sub dill pickles or dill relish for the sweet, but that's just my taste preference. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/tartar-s...

                                                          1. re: randyjl
                                                            Dan Wedin Jan 25, 2013 02:00 PM

                                                            Try Marina's. It's just like the legendary Marie's that may have been pulled from the market. I grew up in Seattle and Marie's was a restaurant and her tartar sauce was a legend. Word is Marina was her sis, a grandson revived the recipe and sells it with the same packaging and font as in days of yore. No tartar sauce comes close. The fish simply becomes a vehicle for the this superb and piquant sauce.

                                                        2. s
                                                          smartie Jul 28, 2011 03:02 PM

                                                          Ahh fish fingers - well they are called that in the UK. Birdseye were the best but I don't think they taste like they used to either. In the UK they are flatter and more rectangular and even than American counterparts and somehow not as sweet as the ones I've tried this side of the pond.

                                                          1. q
                                                            Querencia Jul 26, 2011 08:57 PM

                                                            Try fish sticks or any frozen fish pieces or filets or whatever with Trader Joe's Sweet Chili Sauce as a dip. In spite of the name, it's more like a clear Asian dip sauce than ketchupy American chili sauce. Makes everything taste as if you are in a Thai restaurant and really good with the fried-type fish.

                                                            1. c
                                                              chocolatetartguy Jul 26, 2011 07:34 PM

                                                              Anyone screaming about fish sticks, doesn't know good eating!

                                                              Does Mrs. Pauls still make them (or anything for that matter)? I think Gorton's is still around.

                                                              For my "fish stick" fix, I usually go to McDonalds for a fish sandwich (a very wide stick and of similar quality I think).

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: chocolatetartguy
                                                                pine time Jul 28, 2011 12:51 PM

                                                                Am I nuts or remember correctly: didn't Mrs. Paul's come with a little frozen packet of relish that you mixed with mayo for tartar sauce? Grew up eating Mrs. Paul's, and I'll be danged if today the only way I can eat fish is some fish & chips concoction (and speaking of, Arthur Treacher's chain was high eatin' in my neighborhood!)

                                                                1. re: pine time
                                                                  chocolatetartguy Jul 28, 2011 03:16 PM

                                                                  Not nuts. There was a little condiment sized packet with relish to make tartar sauce. As I recall it wasn't bad at the time.

                                                                2. re: chocolatetartguy
                                                                  EWSflash Dec 12, 2012 07:00 PM

                                                                  I loved Mrs Pauls clam strips, it was a must have in the late '70s. I don't know if they stil have them, but they are the best after-the-bar-drunk food ever.

                                                                  1. re: EWSflash
                                                                    Perilagu Khan Dec 13, 2012 08:13 AM

                                                                    Back before I became a shellfishaphobe, I loved those too.

                                                                    1. re: EWSflash
                                                                      Bacardi1 Dec 14, 2012 08:53 AM

                                                                      Yup - "Mrs. Paul's Fried Clams" are still around. In fact, one of my husband's favorite "comfort food" meals is either Mrs. Paul's or Gorton's fried clams piled on a toasted buttered roll with a bit of mayo & lettuce.

                                                                  2. ipsedixit Jul 25, 2011 09:21 PM


                                                                    Get them at Costco ...

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                      FoodFuser Jul 26, 2011 10:27 PM

                                                                      Thanks, ipsedixit, for linking to the OP to just what he was asking for.

                                                                      There will be scoffers,
                                                                      but I bet they aren't parents
                                                                      who get the kids home after 7 pm soccer.

                                                                      High quality fish sticks
                                                                      with emphasis on pollock
                                                                      and not the breading
                                                                      are good.

                                                                      1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                        Perilagu Khan Dec 10, 2012 07:48 AM

                                                                        Scoffer and soccer--Ezra Pound is eating out his heart with green envy.

                                                                        1. re: FoodFuser
                                                                          EWSflash Dec 12, 2012 06:58 PM

                                                                          Yeah- you rock.

                                                                        2. re: ipsedixit
                                                                          sueatmo Dec 9, 2012 09:37 PM

                                                                          Costco also carries Trident brand salmon burgers, which we like very much. These are easy to do on a stovetop grill.

                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                            Bill Hunt Jan 25, 2013 07:25 PM

                                                                            Interesting, and thank you.

                                                                            Like the OP, "fish sticks" WERE good - once.

                                                                            Have not tried Costco's, but will gladly admit that their Tempura Shrimp is at the top of our list for that dish.

                                                                            Will definitely give Trident a try.



                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                              ipsedixit Jan 25, 2013 07:30 PM

                                                                              I never figured you to be a "fish sticks" kind of gourmand, Bill.

                                                                              Next thing you'll be telling me you like corn dogs.

                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                                Bill Hunt Jan 26, 2013 07:54 PM

                                                                                Once, fish sticks were edible, and actually enjoyable. For me, that period ceased, and, though I tried, was never the same again.

                                                                                Still, there WAS a time.

                                                                                Referenced to another CH thread on "Blizzard Food,", for one hurricane, hitting New Orleans, I cooked up about 6 dozen fish sticks, just to have some food available, since my wife was at her hospital, and not likely coming home for many days. They were so good, that as the evening progressed, and the storm began to hit us, I ate them all - over about 12 hours.

                                                                                That was then, and this is now.


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