What identifies food as being intended for kids? Perhaps the way it’s named, like “Tater Tots” and “Happy Meal”. Or the way they’re shaped, like Alphabet Soup and Animal Crackers.
Then there’s Fish Sticks. Which doesn’t necessarily have a whimsical name or shape, but probably earned its kid-friendly reputation due to their low cost, somewhat fun (though I wouldn’t say whimsical) shape, as well non-fishy, almost chicken-like neutral flavor, allowing busy working parents to quickly put the healthy reputation of fish on the dinner table without fear their wallets would be emptied, the little ones would object to it, and/or the kitchen sink would be piled high with dirty dishes.
Not that they’re only for kids, as of course us adults eat fish sticks too, as well as probably everything else mentioned above, including fast food toy collectors who happily eat their Happy Meal as a “bonus”. So I’d say especially Fish Sticks are more “family food”.
Fish Sticks are also quite versatile, served either as an appetizer by itself, or in a sandwich, or even to make fish tacos, just to name a few ideas.
And while not as characteristic as an Elephant or letter in the alphabet (unless you consider it an ‘I’), it’s finger-like stick shape can be playful if your keiki has some imagination, like say pretending it’s an airplane or dragster. Or building a house Lincoln Logs style. IIRC, I used to do that.
Here’s an idea…
Imagine though, turning a fish stick into a miniature remote-controlled airplane? That’d be a riot! Only problem, the fish stick is too heavy. The wings would need choke surface area in order for it get airborn. Ever see the remote controlled lawn mower-shaped airplane? Yes, there is one and it’s hilarious!
OK, enough playing around with food and garden equipment. Let fish sticks be fish sticks. Here’s the bag…
Trident The Ultimate Fish Sticks, 64 oz. bag (frozen), $13.29 from Costco
As you see, it’s made by Trident Seafoods. This huge 64 oz. sixty fish stick count bag was a rather thrifty $13.29. That’s much cheaper than you could get for the same yield from most grocery stores. These are the kinds of things that makes having a Costco membership worth it.
Did I say I love Costco? Well I do. I could live in there. Especially the Hawaii Kai one since it’s a slower-paced, more relaxed environment than the Iwilei location. Even better now that they expanded the Hawaii Kai store, including a hot deli. But because my household is just me and the girlfriend, we don’t buy perishable things there unless it’s small enough where we can finish it before getting spoiled. Mostly just dry or frozen stuff like canned goods, cereals, and what I have here with this fish sticks.
For the perishable and smaller quantity stuff, Foodland and Don Quijote is our supermarket of choice, with Marukai for seafood, Japanese and specialty items. I think Safeway (Kapahulu and Hawaii Kai) has the best meats though, so most of my steak, chicken and pork come from there. Costco has great meats, but they’re too bulky for our needs. Safeway has the same quality premium cuts (if not better for some) in onezee-twozee servings, versus them army-sized “why feed two when you can feed ten” trays at Costco.
Anyway, sorry for sidetracking once again. Real Podagee, eh? lol
Back to the product at hand. When I seen the name “Ultimate Fish Sticks” on the label, I was immediately interested. Anything “Ultimate” has gotta’ be good. Perhaps even too good for children. Now they’re targeting the adult segment of the market.
As you may recall, I’m a huge Fish ‘N Chips fan, so after reading more about it on the packaging, these “Ultimate Fish Sticks” sounded like it had potential as a thrifty, convenient alternative to get my fish ‘n chips fix without going through the hassle of making it from scratch. Plus I could make toothpick fish stick airplanes if I got bored.
They also had the Pubhouse? brand frozen battered fish right next to this one, but it was much more expensive per serving, and if that’s the case, I’d rather spend the money on fresh fish and make my own from scratch.
What sold me on it besides value and it being titled as “Ultimate”, was the fact that it’s made from “Whole Fillets of Wild Alaska Pollock”, unlike most fish sticks which are made from minced and processed mystery fish. McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish is a perfect example everyone can relate to of the processed type, as that’s made using a combination of Whitefish and/or Hoki or Pollock. Not bad stuff in its own right (it’s the only sandwich I’ll order from Micky-Deez), but I’ll take a whole fillet ANY day.
Alaskan Pollock is a very common fish used to make Fish ‘N Chips due to its white flesh (when cooked), mild flavor, low oil content (so it doesn’t fall apart) and low cost.
Of course if I were making Fish ‘N Chips from scratch, Mahimahi or Ono would be my first choice, but since I’m not here, the Pollock should suffice.
On the back of the bag, they describe this product like this:
More Fish in Every Bite — The Ultimate Fish Stick™ from Trident is cut from whole fillets of snow-white pollock, caught in the icy clear waters of Alaska. there’s no mince and no mystery in our Ultimate Fish Stick, just more fish and less breading in every bite. They cook up crisp and delicious right out of the freezer. We know you’ll love them and so will your kids!
I suppose there’s other fish stick brands out there that not only use minced fish, but also over-bread them. I wouldn’t know as I’m not a regular consumer of the stuff. In fact, this is probably the first time I had fish sticks in over 10 years. Maybe longer.
Here’s one seving suggestion they have pictured on the back of the bag….
Hmm. With grapes huh? Sounds good actually. That reminds me, a nice Sauvignon Blanc wine paired with these fish sticks would be great! Sorry, but don’t have that on hand for this presentation. Only Cabernet Sauvignon, which I’m saving for another dish (steak!).
But we’re doing Fish ‘N Chips here, so along with that, I picked up a bag of Ore-Ida Zesties! fries from Don Quijote…
Ore-Ida Zesties! frozen fries, 32 oz. bag, $4.99
Here’s how the fish sticks look frozen right out of the package…
Oooohhh…. aaaaahhhhh. Interesting, huh?
And here’s the Zesties frozen straight outta’ the bag…
I love seasoned fries. Ore-Ida describes these fries like this:
Zesties!® have a little more zip and a bit more kick than your average fry & will really spice up your meals. Add some fun to your menu tonight with Ore-Ida Zesties fries.
I’m gonna’ start kicking-up my writing style by bolding all my verbs like that. lol j/k
The key ingredients listed for the Zesties are: potatoes, vegetable oil, flour salt, onion powder, chili pepper, garlic powder, pepper and a bunch of chemicals I can’t pronounce and don’t wanna’ know about.
The key ingredients for The Ultimate Fish Sticks are: 65% Alaska Pollock 35% Batter & Breading: Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour, Water, Modified Corn Starch, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Citric Acid, Dextrose, Dried Green Bell Pepper, Dried Red Bell Pepper, Dried Whey, Enriched White Corn Meal, Enriched Yellow Corn Flour, Enriched Yellow Corn Meal, Garlic Powder, Guar Gum, Hydrolyzed Oat Flour, Hydrolyzed Soy, Corn and Wheat Protein, Leavening, Turmeric, Onion Powder, Palm Oil, Paprika Extract (color), Rice Flour, Salt, Sodium Caseinate, Soy Lecithin, Spice Extractive, Spices, Sugar, Tapioca Dextrin, Tomato Powder, Wheat Gluten, Yeast. Parfried in Soybean or Canola Oil.
…and a bunch of chemicals I can’t pronounce and don’t want to know about.
You can either bake or deep-fry both the fish and the fries; I chose deep-frying not just for better flavor and texture, but also because I still had my pot of deep-frying oil on the stove from the recent crispy wonton demo’. So I figure might as well make more use of the oil before I toss it out. Of course for health reasons, next time I make some it’ll be baked.
So into the hot fryer for just a few minutes, blot out the excess oil on a paper towel serve it up!…
Yummy-lookin’! The plating design looks great if I might say so myself. Witness the careful, individually-arranged fries and radial outset from the green color-contrasting parsley on the top right-hand corner.
But how’s it taste? Very good. Certainly a notch or two above fish sticks that I’m familiar with. The Pollock is moist, tender and flaky. Only thing the Pollock is a bit too mildly flavored. While kids will appreciate the absence of fish taste at all, for me as an adult, it could stand to have a bit more character. Mahimahi in this would be great. Ono even better.
The batter’s very good too. It has a slight zip to it thanks to the additional spices they added. I like that cornmeal texture too; it has a bumpy crust surface, with a distinctive crunch when you bite through it. Matches the tender pollock inside really well.
Here’s a cross-section cut of one of the Ultimate Fish Sticks…
It looks like minced fish, only because after it’s cooked the flesh gets flaky and separates like that. Plus the pressure from my knife as I cut through it. But you can tell when biting into it that it’s a cut of whole fillet.
The Zesties are pretty good. I was expecting it to be more zesty though. Jack in the Box Seasoned Curly Fries are way more zesty in comparison. But actually, I think plain salted fries are a better match for fish ‘n chips anyway, as the even the seasoning on these fries caused my palate to lose some of that already mild Pollock flavor. Not a big deal though, as I still enjoyed the dish.
Of course I gotta’ have BOTH tartar sauce and cocktail sauce with fish ‘n chips.. a combo I got hooked on after getting hooked on the fish ‘n chips at Alexander’s in Kihei, Maui. Speaking of Alexander’s Fish ‘n Chips, they’re still around, but under new ownership. Them and Sam Sato’s are on my must-dine-at list on next my Maui trip coming up in a few months.
To sum this all up, if you and your family are craving for better fish sticks, or, you like fish ‘n chips, and/or you enjoy playing make-pretend with food, check out The Ultimate Fish Sticks at your local Costco. Don’t forget to get a bag of frozen fries and perhaps a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc while your’e at it.
What? The Ultimate Fish Stick by Trident Seafoods
From where did you buy it and how much did it cost? Costco Hawaii Kai, $13.29 for a 64 oz. frozen bag
Big Shaka to: Family-friendly price, convenience, versatility and nutrional value. Acceptable for use as Fish ‘n Chips (if the shape doesn’t bother you). Moist, tender fish. Flavorful, nicely-textured batter. Good fish-to-batter ratio. Whole (not minced) Pollock Fillets. Deep-fried goodness. Resealable zip-top bag. Costco Hawaii Kai. Don Quijote. Making fish stick airplanes with toothpick wings and tails. Remote-controlled lawnmower-shaped airplanes.
No shaka to: Pollock flavor a bit too mild. Playing with food. Fish Sticks to heavy to convert into a remote-controlled airplane.
The Tasty Island rating: 3
What? Ore-Ida Zesties! frozen fries
From where did you buy it and how much did it cost? Don Quijote Kaheka, $4.99 for a 32 oz. frozen bag
Big Shaka to: Nice-size cuts (some very long). Crispy outside, tender inside. Spicy-crusty coating. Can be baked or deep-fried.
No shaka to: Relatively high (regular) price. Not “zesty” enough. Zesty spices that were present made palate lose taste of the mild pollock. Bag isn’t resealable (and should be for the price). Fries too soft to make into a toothpick airplane.
The Tasty Island rating: 2
What? Trident Ultimate Fish Stick UCAV Drone Aircraft Model Kit
From where did you buy it and how much did it cost? Costco Hawaii Kai, $13.29 for a squadron of 60 aircraft (toothpick wings sold separately)
How fast can it fly? As fast as my arm can go “swwwooooooosh” from left to right and right to left.
What’s its flight ceiling? About an upper torso and arm’s length high from the surface of the dinner table.
Big Shaka to: Probably the coolest Fish Stick this side of the pacific (or possibly the world!). Takes less than a minute to “assemble”. No glue necessary. The potential to become a high-paid product developer for Boeing or Lockheed Martin.
No shaka to: Being told I can’t play with my food. Toothpicks have zero lift. The fish stick eventually crushes and breaks apart from too much handling doing “swwoooooshh” passes over the dinner table. The potential of Boeing or Lockheed Martin “cockaroaching” my idea instead of hiring me.
The Tasty Island rating: Awaiting opinions from Boeing and Lockheed Martin execs’.