Fish Sticks! Culinary Curse, Convenience or Comfort? Or just Good Eats???

@jerzgirl (7746)
Gloucester City, New Jersey
December 13, 2009 2:07pm CST
I got to thinking about this as I was eating a plateful of low cost frozen fish sticks I had heated in the microwave for a quickie bite. Admittedly, jokes are made at their expense on a regular basis, but many a child has learned to like fish with this easy to eat finger food. I should have pan-fried them for better texture and flavor, but I didn't want to go to the trouble for just me. There are varying qualities to the fish sticks on the market - some are, as these were, minced bits of one or more types of white fish formed into a stick shape, breaded and pre-cooked for your eating pleasure and ease. Others, usually the better known and higher priced brands, are solid pieces of fish cut into stick shapes and either breaded in crumbs or dipped in batter like small versions of those tasty treats one can enjoy at a fish and chip shop (aka chippy). I think most of us agree that those are probably the best, albeit the most costly. But, here I had a bag of frozen fish sticks that had come with the food order I had obtained in August (so you can see they're not on the top of OUR personal food list) and I was hungry for something, anything, that was quick and easy and reasonably tasty. I don't cook fish often at all because my daughter won't eat it. So, having anything with fish is usually limited to canned tuna (which she will eat) or dining out and bringing home the leftovers. But, here were these little sticks of fishy flavor waiting to be enjoyed by someone, somehow and I decided I would do just that. Some ultra cheap brands of sticks are so full of filler (the stuff that binds the minced fish bits together) that it's hard to know if any fish exists in the stick. But, these weren't too bad, actually. They smelled like fish and tasted like fish, and even being warmed in the microwave, they had a decent texture about them. I didn't have any cocktail sauce (I don't like tartar sauce), so I drizzled catsup on them. I've had far worse treats in my time. I remember a few months back, I went online to see if there was anything else one could do with fish sticks beyond simply crisping them up and eating them plain and did find a few recipes out there. But, not all of them were appealing to me. The only ones I thought had flavor merit for me were the fish tacos and the fish stick wraps (fish sticks, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, etc, rolled in a tortilla). Those two ideas might make a nice change to the layering on a paper plate and popping them in the microwave oven. So, my question is this - how do you view fish sticks? Do you avoid them at all costs? Did you use them to introduce your children to seafood? Do you like them and eat them on a regular basis (even if the time between is long)? Are they a first choice item or more of an "almost out of food and money" choice? And, how do you serve them? Straight up as they came or do you have a recipe to do something different with them? If you do, would you share?
5 people like this
13 responses
@blackbriar (9126)
• United States
14 Dec 09
I don't think I've ever eaten fish sticks before. I can say the same thing for hubby and daughter. On the rare occasion I buy frozen fish, it's batter-dipped fillets. We usually eat either the canned tuna or pink salmon patties I make from the canned salmon.
1 person likes this
@pyewacket (43962)
• United States
14 Dec 09
I make my own tuna patties...yum...nuts now I'm hungry..LOL--oh and of course when I open a can of tuna guess who wants some?
• United States
14 Dec 09
Not just the tuna, Pye, but the salmon as well. lol I have 3, don't forget. 3 wrapping themselves around my legs and stretching up to put paws on counter (not allowed on them)in hopes some will be on the edge that they can pull down. And the music coming from them....
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
I LOVE batter dipped fish!! Just love it!!! But, unfortunately, that's not what I got in this batch of food from Angel Food. There are more in the one I'm to pick up on Saturday, too. #11 gave me an idea on serving them that I might just try (or at least a variation of it). They're OK, as I said - just not my first choice. But, when you order a package deal to save money on food costs, you make do with what's there, unless there's so much you won't eat, you don't order it at all.
• Southend-On-Sea, England
13 Dec 09
I love crab sticks and often eat them (once thawed) straight from the packet. I don't have any recipes as I've never cooked with them, but they make great sandwiches with lettuce or watercress, with perhaps a bit of sweetcorn or a sliced up small raw mushroom.
1 person likes this
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
13 Dec 09
That actually sounds like a decent way to eat them. A bread version of the tortilla wrap idea, I'd say. You don't even heat them, though? Just thaw them?
1 person likes this
• Southend-On-Sea, England
13 Dec 09
Hi yes I suppose it would be a bread version of a tortilla wrap (I'm a Brit by the way). Yes I eat the crabsticks straight from the pack without heating first, but they are already cooked before they are frozen. I'd imagine you could maybe cook some up with vegetables, onions & garlic with rice? When I have them in sandwiches, I always have granary or wholemeal bread as they don't seem to go to well with white bread.
1 person likes this
@olisaur (1932)
• United States
13 Dec 09
I'm ok with fishsticks. I used to love them as a kid- I always dipped them in ketchup before taking a bit. One time I tried them without ketchup, and I saw the actual fish inside. Some pieces of the meat had skin on them, and it totally grossed me out. I stayed away from fish sticks for years after that. Then a couple years ago I was taken out to a fisha and chips restaraunt where I had them again, and I thought they were delicious- the fish was really fresh and the batter was so crispy good. I don;t buy frozen fishstciks regularly, but I do like to have them every once in a while.
1 person likes this
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
I know I had them as a kid, but for the life of me I can't remember how I ate them. I think probably just off my plate because I know I wouldn't eat cocktail sauce back then and I didn't use vinegar until recently. I love Fish and Chips, though. Although, more the fish than the chips. There's a pub nearby where I can get macaroni and cheese instead of the potatoes. Very good - very very good!
@ElicBxn (60016)
• United States
13 Dec 09
its easy to make cocktail sauce, just put horseradish in the fridge and then mix with catsup... I don't eat them because I can't get them corn free, but I used to eat them before I knew about the corn allergy - just with a squeeze of lemon or lime on them. Once were eating them with Maggiepie (pre knowing about allergy stuff) and she went to sleep and Sab stole one, and I figured if she couldn't stay awake to guard her food, Sab earned it!
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
13 Dec 09
I don't have horseradish since cocktail sauce is the only thing I'd ever use it for. But, I think the last time I had them I used vinegar on them. I think I like that better than just plain catsup, actually. Don't know why I didn't think of it before!!
1 person likes this
@ElicBxn (60016)
• United States
13 Dec 09
my roomie has started using cocktail sauce as a steak sauce, she says she likes it, I have taken to eating the left overs, just plain - I really like cocktail sauce...
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
We have some "clam bars" here that make their own and WOWIE ZOWIE - their ratio of horseradish to catsup is mighty high! The minute theirs gets on my tongue, it hits like a hot coal sending shocks throughout my mouth. I'm almost afraid to swallow. I end up adding more catsup to it in order to dilute what they make. But, I do like it way more than I used to when I was a kid - I'd have never touched it then.
1 person likes this
@thea09 (18329)
• Greece
13 Dec 09
Hi jerzgirl, I think what you call a fish stick is what we call a fish finger. They are seen only as childrens food and I've never heard of adults eating them. I've now and again grilled a few for my son and would have presumed they'd just go soggy in a microwave. I really don't think there's much else one can do with them. My son got hooked on kalamri early on (squid) and likes the tentacles. It's much better if you can get it fresh but it's quite rare round here as mostly the fishermen catch it to use as bait for their real fishing. There's so much variety of fish though that your daughter will come round to liking it some of it. You could try her with fresh grilled sardines, the children here love them.
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
13 Dec 09
Fried calamari is very popular around here - we have a lot of people of Italian descent and it's a favorite in the Italian restaurants as an appetizer. Even though I grew up where seafood is plentiful, I have never wanted to eat anything that had suckers on it! LOL I've heard they are quite good, but I think I'll give my share to those who want them. Thanks for responding!
1 person likes this
@Hatley (154938)
• Garden Grove, California
13 Dec 09
thea there are some brands of our fish sticks that are actual real chunks of high quality fish, and if one buys NOrtons fish sticks they are really very delicious and adults more often than kids will eat these,as they are whole chunks of fish not fish chopped up with a lot of added stuff, and coated with a very light breadcrumb coating. fried in just a little oil I have found them delicious. the stuff kids eat are not at all like Nortons.
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
I think those are Gorton's, Hatley. But, I'm not sure they can get them in Greece - I am right, thea, that you're in Greece? But, who knows - so many products are sold internationally that they may sell there, but under another name.
@sid556 (31018)
• United States
14 Dec 09
I'm not a big fan. I do eat them on occasion but it is very very rare. I really can't eat the cheaper ones. I have tried them and I just can't do it. If I do eat them ...they have to be the higher end ones. I grew up on the coast and and I love seafood and maybe because of that the cheap fish sticks really don't set right with me. I no longer live near the coast but it actually took me some time to get used to any of the frozen fish products. I actually grew up in an era where pretty much everything was made from scratch and was fresh so fish sticks are not the only thing I've had to acquire a taste for.
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
My mother made everything from scratch, too. A lot of things that are frozen staples today didn't exist when I was little. But, I do remember fish sticks. I guess they began as a way to use the fish bits that remained after processing other items from the fish. I don't have a problem with that concept in general. But, some products are definitely better than others. These weren't too bad. I'll be getting more this Saturday (not by choice - they're just part of the food package), so I'll have to think of things to do with them. When my kids were little, I would cut fish filets up into smaller units, dip in egg, then into bread crumbs and fry them for our dinner. They weren't bad at all like that. But, my daughter will no longer eat fish or shellfish other than tuna, so I'm the only one who gets to eat it. My son still loves seafood, but lives 2300 miles away, so I can't share.
1 person likes this
@sid556 (31018)
• United States
14 Dec 09
My daughter is the same way. She won't even eat tuna but on rare times. Fish sandwhiches with cheese and lettuce, tomato aren't too bad.
• United States
28 Dec 09
This is so funny!!! I love fish sticks and in my opinion, they are one of the tackiest foods out there...BUT...they are delicious. I also love prime rib, lobster and caviar so what does that tell you about my taste in food LOL? I think I love fish sticks so much because I grew up on them, and in my day there wasn't much to pick from. It was Mrs. Paul's or nothing. I'm fairly sure there wasn't much real fish in them back in the 70's and I remember that thick breading more than anything. But to me, they were and still are a comfort food, one that I grew up on and still love today. I don't think it matters as much, how they taste or what they look like, but the memories foods like this bring back. I used to serve them to my kids and they honestly never cared much for them. I haven't had them in years but I see them when I go down the seafood isle and am very tempted to buy a big bag of them. I remember dipping them in tartar sauce made at home with miracle whip, ketchup, sugar and relish and I can almost taste them now...tomorrow...I think Im going to buy a bag and cook it for myself!
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
28 Dec 09
LOL I know what you mean. They're not at the top of the food pyramid for me and yet, I do like them. I prefer the battered ones, but once in a while I'm just in a fish stick kind of mood, regardless of the type. My kids weren't real big on them, either. Their dad caught trout all the time, so we always had fish. I'd cut up fish fillets and bread them instead. But, now it's just me and my daughter and she won't touch fish any more (except tuna), so I'm trying to find creative ways to eat the ones I have so I can stretch them out and not get sick of them.
• United States
20 Dec 09
i like fish sticks. a little tarragon/lemon mayo does wonders with them. i'll actually throw them in a sandwich with cheese sometimes for a snack. a lot of bread,i know..but it's good.
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
20 Dec 09
That's why the wrap idea appeals to me - still a sandwich, yet not as much dough. Like a larger version of McDonald's snack wraps, but with fish sticks instead of chicken fingers.
@anne25penn (3310)
• Philippines
14 Dec 09
I am fortunate to live in a tropical country where fish is abundant all year round. So, people here have no problems introducing fish to their children because it is easily available. And unlike you, we make our own fish stick from fresh fish that we dip in batter and fry. Again, this is cheaper than getting the processed fish sticks here in my country. My recipe for fish sticks that you can use is to saute them in tomatoes and black beans. You just have to fry the fish sticks first, drain them and toss then in the sauteed mixture. You can add peppers if you want it spicy.
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
That actually sounds good, your cooking idea. I've done something similar with shrimp, minus the black beans. I also have onions and peppers in the mix. That might work for me - crisping up the fish sticks first to keep them more stable in the wet mix. That's an idea I like the sound of. Thanks!
@pyewacket (43962)
• United States
14 Dec 09
I don't mind fish sticks...haven't had them for awhile (nor fish except tuna)...but what I often do is buy nice breaded fish fillets (usually the store brand which is quite good) AND the fish sticks and serve with French Fries. Oh, if you want a nice "sauce" for the fish sticks why not just try mixing some ketchup and mayo and blend..I do that. I also like squeezing lemon on my fish fillets and fish sticks. If you think minced fish sticks don't have much fish in them, what is worse are usually the fish cakes...it's mainly mashed type potatoes with very little fish
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
Oh, gag! ANY kind of fish cakes!! I was tempted once to make some tuna cakes with a recipe I found that actually didn't sound too bad as far as ingredients go, but Mom wouldn't have any of it, so I never got to try if there was one I might like. Crab cakes are very popular around here as are deviled clams. They look good - even smell good - but I can't get past the taste. I do the catsup/mayo thing for french fries. Debated it for the sticks, but my growling stomach was in too much of a hurry! LOL
@cripfemme (7719)
• United States
14 Dec 09
For me, it's both convenience and comfort. I eat fish sticks when I'm having a really bad day and feel like I need some comfort food. When I was growing up that was a comfort food dish usually accompanied by mashed potatoes.
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
I think if I was going to have them as part of a full meal, I'd probably have green beans with them and some potato or macaroni salad. For a dinner for more than just me, I'd probably get the ones that are solid fish. They aren't something I'd want to eat every day, but they're not bad as a periodic quickie meal when I don't want to go to a lot of trouble cooking.
@xfahctor (14111)
• Lancaster, New Hampshire
13 Dec 09
Fish sticks are absolutely vile. even the ones with real fish and no filler. thogh, I don't really care for fish anyways. I do like shellfish. Clams, lobster,scallops, etc are all pretty good. but I have hated fish sticks ever since I can remember. Even the smell of them makes my stomach lurch.
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
Aha - so we have the culinary curse persuasion. That's OK. I've had some that really shouldn't have seen the light of day and I've had some that were so good it was a shame to lump them with the other fish sticks. But, I think, overall, they aren't bad considering.
@Hatley (154938)
• Garden Grove, California
13 Dec 09
hi jerzgirl I sort of like fish sticks but tend to buy those that are more costly as they contain no fillers just the crumb coating and they are made of real fish flesh , not chopped up stuff. then I fry them in a little oil and have a great serving of home made coleslaw and some mashed potatoes, home made too. great lunch or dinner.
@jerzgirl (7746)
• Gloucester City, New Jersey
14 Dec 09
Those are the best, for sure. But, these come as part of the Angel Food package and I don't get to pick and choose. If I don't like something, I find someone who does to share with. The price is right, regardless. These aren't bad considering I have no say in what they are.