Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

The Best Fish Sticks

Last time Patrick’s Grandma Pat was in town, I made some of my yummy shrimp-and-rice bake. It took her one bite to detect the chicken stock — oops! “Just make me a fish stick next time,” she said. “Like what you give the kids.” So, for this next visit, Patrick and I went looking for the best.

Van de Kamp’s Extra Large Crunchy Fish Sticks (23 oz., $6.49 at Vons). The crunchy, not-too-greasy texture of the coating was a big hit, as was the slightly sweet taste. We thought the fish inside was a bit mushy, but there was so little of it that it didn’t really matter.

Fisher Boy Fish Sticks (24 oz., $5.99 at Vons). I actually spit mine out. “The texture is like little hairs made out of fish!” I cried. “It’s like chemical warfare in my mouth!” said Patrick. And the batter was dry. No child would ever want to eat fish after growing up on these.

Gorton’s Crunchy Breaded Fish Sticks (11.4 oz., $5.99 at Vons). They weren’t kidding when they said “crunchy.” I could feel the slightly sweet coating crack in my mouth. The fish inside was a bit mealy, however, and light on flavor. “But does it really matter?” asked Patrick. “They’re just vehicles for ketchup, anyway.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Trader Joe’s Reduced-Fat Fish Sticks (16 oz., $4.99 at Trader Joe’s). These wore an armor of crisp batter that, while ungreasy, proved too heavy for Patrick. The fish texture was good — somewhere between mealy and flaky — but it was without flavor. “Good for kids,” he opined.

Ian’s Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks (8 oz., $5.69 at Whole Foods). Patrick thought the breadcrumb crust was “aggressive.” He added, “The fish was too rich for me. Heavy. I wouldn’t need a lot. I can’t believe it’s pollock.” But I liked it — the substantial fish stood up to the coating and made the sticks feel like a meal instead of a snack.

Trident Ultimate Fish Sticks (15 oz., $6.99 at Henry’s). The batter was crisp but crumbly and not at all greasy. A touch of black-pepper spice lingered in the mouth and made the stick seem grown up, without obscuring the fresh-fish flavor. Inside, everything was juicy and tender — pollock like it oughta be.

Captain Jac Fish & Chips (26 oz., $7.99 at Vons). Swathed in the thickest batter of the bunch, these provided a good, crisp bite. They were greasy, but yummy-greasy. Still, we could see it getting heavy after one or two. The fish was substantial, but the dry fillets broke apart without tenderness, and an unpleasant aftertaste lingered in their wake.

Van de Kamp’s Crispy Fish Tenders (18.1 oz., $6.49 at Vons). Several stuck to the pan when we tried to flip them, so we lost some of the batter and fish. Like its fish-stick counterpart of the same brand, it was more batter than fish. Happily, what fish there was proved to be a proper moist filet that separated gently when bitten.

Gorton’s Pub-Style Beer-Batter Tenders (17.3 oz., $7.99 at Vons). We liked the mid-range thickness of the batter, and the flavor of it was so light — almost airy! Just enough mild fish flavor.

Earth’s Best Fish-Shaped Nuggets (8 oz., $4.99 at Whole Foods). The shape delighted the kids, but everyone was distressed by the heavy, grainy batter that went pebbly when chewed. “Maybe cornmeal doesn’t freeze well,” guessed Patrick. The fish inside was tasteless. “It’s reconstituted mush!” said our oldest.

Trader Joe’s Fish Nuggets (16 oz., $3.99 at Trader Joe’s). Nice rectangular, squat nugget. Beer-battered smell. Chunky fish with thinnest layer of batter yet — wafer-thin, like a wrapper. Fish was identifiably fish-flavored without being fishy. Good for kids, good for grown-ups — an easy favorite.

Our verdict: I liked the Trident fish sticks best because of their sophistication, followed by the rich Ian’s fish sticks and the Trader Joe’s nuggets. Patrick also gave top nod to the T.J. nuggets — also the clear winner on value — followed by the Trident sticks and the Gorton nuggets. We’re ready for Grandma Pat.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

La Jolla's SummerFest 2024 starts July 26

The list of artists is stunning
Next Article

Holo Holo Festival showcases music of the Pacific Islands

Featured local artists include Eli-Mac and Lea Love

Last time Patrick’s Grandma Pat was in town, I made some of my yummy shrimp-and-rice bake. It took her one bite to detect the chicken stock — oops! “Just make me a fish stick next time,” she said. “Like what you give the kids.” So, for this next visit, Patrick and I went looking for the best.

Van de Kamp’s Extra Large Crunchy Fish Sticks (23 oz., $6.49 at Vons). The crunchy, not-too-greasy texture of the coating was a big hit, as was the slightly sweet taste. We thought the fish inside was a bit mushy, but there was so little of it that it didn’t really matter.

Fisher Boy Fish Sticks (24 oz., $5.99 at Vons). I actually spit mine out. “The texture is like little hairs made out of fish!” I cried. “It’s like chemical warfare in my mouth!” said Patrick. And the batter was dry. No child would ever want to eat fish after growing up on these.

Gorton’s Crunchy Breaded Fish Sticks (11.4 oz., $5.99 at Vons). They weren’t kidding when they said “crunchy.” I could feel the slightly sweet coating crack in my mouth. The fish inside was a bit mealy, however, and light on flavor. “But does it really matter?” asked Patrick. “They’re just vehicles for ketchup, anyway.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

Trader Joe’s Reduced-Fat Fish Sticks (16 oz., $4.99 at Trader Joe’s). These wore an armor of crisp batter that, while ungreasy, proved too heavy for Patrick. The fish texture was good — somewhere between mealy and flaky — but it was without flavor. “Good for kids,” he opined.

Ian’s Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks (8 oz., $5.69 at Whole Foods). Patrick thought the breadcrumb crust was “aggressive.” He added, “The fish was too rich for me. Heavy. I wouldn’t need a lot. I can’t believe it’s pollock.” But I liked it — the substantial fish stood up to the coating and made the sticks feel like a meal instead of a snack.

Trident Ultimate Fish Sticks (15 oz., $6.99 at Henry’s). The batter was crisp but crumbly and not at all greasy. A touch of black-pepper spice lingered in the mouth and made the stick seem grown up, without obscuring the fresh-fish flavor. Inside, everything was juicy and tender — pollock like it oughta be.

Captain Jac Fish & Chips (26 oz., $7.99 at Vons). Swathed in the thickest batter of the bunch, these provided a good, crisp bite. They were greasy, but yummy-greasy. Still, we could see it getting heavy after one or two. The fish was substantial, but the dry fillets broke apart without tenderness, and an unpleasant aftertaste lingered in their wake.

Van de Kamp’s Crispy Fish Tenders (18.1 oz., $6.49 at Vons). Several stuck to the pan when we tried to flip them, so we lost some of the batter and fish. Like its fish-stick counterpart of the same brand, it was more batter than fish. Happily, what fish there was proved to be a proper moist filet that separated gently when bitten.

Gorton’s Pub-Style Beer-Batter Tenders (17.3 oz., $7.99 at Vons). We liked the mid-range thickness of the batter, and the flavor of it was so light — almost airy! Just enough mild fish flavor.

Earth’s Best Fish-Shaped Nuggets (8 oz., $4.99 at Whole Foods). The shape delighted the kids, but everyone was distressed by the heavy, grainy batter that went pebbly when chewed. “Maybe cornmeal doesn’t freeze well,” guessed Patrick. The fish inside was tasteless. “It’s reconstituted mush!” said our oldest.

Trader Joe’s Fish Nuggets (16 oz., $3.99 at Trader Joe’s). Nice rectangular, squat nugget. Beer-battered smell. Chunky fish with thinnest layer of batter yet — wafer-thin, like a wrapper. Fish was identifiably fish-flavored without being fishy. Good for kids, good for grown-ups — an easy favorite.

Our verdict: I liked the Trident fish sticks best because of their sophistication, followed by the rich Ian’s fish sticks and the Trader Joe’s nuggets. Patrick also gave top nod to the T.J. nuggets — also the clear winner on value — followed by the Trident sticks and the Gorton nuggets. We’re ready for Grandma Pat.

Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Mission Valley Christian Fellowship wants people to love, grow, and help

Reading the Bible is a good place to start
Next Article

Romain Pison: Climate Change and Decarbonization in San Diego

Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.