Costco Fish Sticks - Trident Seafoods
Do you like fish sticks? Well, today we have Trident Seafoods: The Ultimate Fish Stick from Costco. The question is, are these Costco fish sticks worth buying and do they live up to the Ultimate Fish Stick name?
The Ultimate Fish Stick at Costco
Costco sells the Trident Seafoods: The Ultimate Fish Stick for $12.99. These can be found in the frozen food aisle near the frozen seafood such as the beer battered cod, shrimp tempura, or tortilla crusted tilapia. For $12.99, you get a 4lb bag of the ultimate fish sticks which contain 60+ fish sticks. The per pound cost is $3.25 and each fish stick cost about $.22 each.
These fish sticks are made with wild caught Alaska Pollock and panko breading. Alaska Pollock is considered very similar to its cousin the Pacific Cod in terms of nutritional value and sustainability. This is a good fish to eat in a fish stick.
The bag states you will receive 60 total fish sticks, but the nutritional information on the back shows 21 servings of 3 fish sticks each. Trident Seafood seems to over deliver here, and you can expect anywhere between 60 and 63 ultimate fish sticks per bag.
With a 4lb bag and 60 fish sticks, this breaks down to 15 fish sticks per pound, with each fish stick weighing a little over an ounce. So one serving is approximately 3 ounces of food, which is definitely on the smaller side. My 3 year old daughter would eat between 3 and 5 fish sticks in a meal, and I personally would need to eat 4-5 servings if I were to have these for lunch.
The Ultimate Marketing Claims
It does appear The Ultimate Fish Stick is their registered trademarked name and not so much a claim that this is the ultimate fish stick product. Therefore I’m not going to be attempting to hold this product to what I believe an “Ultimate” fish stick really is. The real question is, do I have to refer to these as Ultimate Fish Sticks throughout the rest of this article? Either way, we all know frozen fish sticks from Costco aren’t going to be the “best achievable or imaginable of its kind” and expectations should be set accordingly.
Trident Seafoods does print on the bag “More Fish, Less Breading”. Whenever I see something of this sort printed on a product’s packaging, I am assuming that this statement is in comparison to a previous version of this product. After doing a little digging here, I’ve determined this isn’t the case for Trident Seafoods Ultimate Fish Sticks. There are 12 year old articles with pictures of this product that also have the same claim of “More Fish, Less Breading”.
This leads me to believe that Trident Seafoods is claiming to have more fish and less breading compared to its competitors. On the back of the packaging, Trident Seafoods does state the product is comprised of 65% Alaska Pollock, and 35% breading while other competitors use 50% breading. I did email a few other big fish stick companies, but did not receive a response back in regards to their fish vs breading percentage.
But again upon closer examination “More Fish, Less Breading” isn’t a description of the item, but instead is another trademarked marketing term. It does feel a little deceptive to me that these are trademarked slogans and not actual marketing claims.
There is a lot of marketing going on with this bag of Costco fish sticks, so the final claim I want to look at is the panko breading and whole filets. The panko breading looks very similar to Perdue’s panko breaded chicken nuggets. It isn’t the typical panko breading that you would expect, but is panko breading nonetheless.
These fish sticks are indeed made with whole Alaska Pollock filets. It is a very nice touch and with certain cooking methods, you can truly taste the fish filets. I will give them some credit for at least delivering on this claim.
Costco Fish STicks Cooking Methods
There are four cooking methods listed on the back of the bag. They are microwaving, oven baking, deep frying, and air frying. For this review, I’m going to use all the listed methods and for an additional test, I will be leaving the fish sticks in the air fryer for an extra 5 minutes or so over the recommended time.
My first test is always going to be the microwave. Most frozen foods at Costco can be reheated in the microwave, and while generally it is the worst option, it is the most convenient method. The instructions on the bag were rather poor. Remember, a serving size here is only 3 fish sticks, so they recommend microwaving 3 fish sticks for 1 and a half to 3 minutes. First, that is such a small quantity of fishsticks to eat and I will go ahead and assume that most people will be heating more than 3 at a time. I would have liked additional microwave instructions for a larger quantity. Secondly, the microwave heating time was very vague. 1 and a half to 3 minutes is such a wide range. Obviously they can’t account for microwave differences across the country, but these directions were almost useless.
I did end up putting 3 fish sticks in the microwave for 2 minutes and 22 seconds, and they came out looking as expected. They were soggy looking, the breading was falling apart and the fish was bursting at the seams. The fish stick looked completely ruined. Now for the taste test, I have to admit I was surprised. The fish stick breading wasn’t crunchy, but it did dry out in the microwave and it did harden up a little bit. It tasted much better than it looked.
The second recommended method was to deep fry them. Most Costco frozen foods don’t list deep frying as a cooking option, but I’m glad these Trident Ultimate Fish Sticks did. It took just a few minutes to heat the oil, and a few minutes more to cook them. Total cook time was less than 10 minutes and the results were phenomenal. The breading was golden brown and perfectly crispy. I could bite right through the breading and fish. Small bite, big bite, it didn’t matter, the fish was extremely easy to cut through. The breading was delicious and the fish was moist and flavorful. By looks and taste, this is the absolute best method to cook these Costco fish sticks.
I then used the oven to cook a small batch. The instructions say to cook these at 475° which is an extremely high temperature for frozen foods. You don’t see a high temperature like this very often. Maybe for pizza, but even then 475° is on the higher end. I don’t mind the higher temperature if it can make the breading crisp up nicely, but my issue with the higher temperature is the total cook time. Just preheating my oven to 475° took almost 20 minutes. Then with 10 minutes to heat the fish sticks, we are looking at 30 minutes or more.
The results of the oven cook were typical. I expected them to be worse than the deep fry but better than the microwave, and that’s right where they fell. The fish sticks were a little light in color, but the breading was crispy. I could bite right through it and the fish stick provided an enjoyable crunch, but each bite wasn’t as clean as the deep fry version.
Finally, I cooked them in the air fryer for different lengths of time. I cooked 1 set at 400° for 11 minutes as per the instructions, and I cooked another batch for a total time of 15 minutes. When cooking these in the air fryer, you can’t shake the basket like you can with most other foods. The fish stick and the breading are very fragile. I had quite a bit of breading actually fall off and one or two fish sticks that actually broke apart. This is a case, where you will actually have to take some tongs to flip these fish sticks in the air fryer, and in doing so you will still have to be extra careful.
For looks, I preferred the fish sticks that were cooked for 15 total minutes. The breading was darker in color and more crispy. While the longer cooking time did achieve the look of the fish stick I was going for, it did dry out the fish. The breading reminded me of the dried microwave version except it was crispy. The fish inside was on the dryer end and the product was definitely overcooked. The 11 minute fish stick was less crispy but overall the better fish stick. It was above average crunchiness and the fish was very enjoyable. Trident got their times right for the air fryer.
The best method by far was the deep fryer. The fish is darn good, and I’ll say that if you deep fry these, they may actually live up to the Ultimate Fish Stick name.
This is a tough one to review. These Trident Ultimate Fish Sticks are heavily dependent on the method used to cook them. I would rate these fish sticks anywhere from below average if using the microwave to a touch above average if using an air fryer. When you deep fry them, they take it up to the next level. They become outstanding and actually quite enjoyable. It becomes clear that you are eating fish sticks made with fish filets. The breading is top notch and the fish is moist and delicious.
At their best, these are a very high quality fish stick that would supersede any fast food or chain restaurant fried fish product. At their worst, they are your typical frozen food that your child would enjoy more than you will.