Good Frozen Fish?

Fresh seafood prices in my area (suburban NYC in CT) have gone crazy! I realize it’s a bad time of year to fish but it’s more pandemic related/ inflation driven, I think. Gone from my rotation are dry sea scallops, swordfish, halibut, even good fresh cod is approaching $25.00lb. I generally don’t buy frozen fish as the freezing process ruins the consistency of most fish, the broken cell structure bleeds out the moisture and the fish gets very dense. I realize many supermarket fresh fish counter wild caught fish are defrosted from frozen. Anyway, can you recommend some good frozen, reasonably priced (sub $15.00lb.) wild caught filets or steak fish? I have access to Costco, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Shoprite Stop and Shop. Thank you very much!

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I live in Canada, so different brands are available up here.

I’ve been enjoying the frozen-pre cooked octopus from Spain, frozen cooked lobster from Canada, frozen shelled vacuum packed crab from Canada.

I keep frozen scallops, shrimp and smoked salmon on hand.

I don’t buy much frozen raw fish, because I buy fresh fin fish each Friday.

I do buy frozen battered or breaded haddock, breaded shrimp, tempura shrimp, bacon-wrapped scallops, fish pie, coquilles st jacques to keep on hand.

I have some frozen kippers I need to use up.

I try to find frozen squid from Monterey.

What I avoid:
Frozen squid from China
Frozen crab from China
Frozen jumbo prawns from India
Frozen salmon from a grocery store, in a box (too dry in my experience, would be different if it was higher quality salmon from a good fish monger, vacuum-packed)

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In my experience, and found at Costco, Trident Seafood products are excellent. It’s a family owned business, and the various fish are wild caught in Alaska. Also love the frozen scallops and 20 pound boxes of King Crab legs; however I haven’t purchased the latter two items in some months, so not sure what the prices are currently.

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I hear you on the seafood prices (and fresh food prices in general). The only time I defer to frozen is when a local, fresher option is not available, or I’m looking for a specialty fish that isn’t in the mass markets. Rather than going to the frozen version, I find myself just being pickier and leaving certain fish off the menu, or going for different cuts or different, less expensive seafood.

If you have a Costco near you, that would be my go to for less expensive, but still good quality (knock on wood). My local Costco generally has decent salmon or halibut prices (though usually skin off, which is a bummer), and often has a variety or two of fresh whole fish when I’ve gone (steelhead trout, branzino, snapper, arctic char or etc.). If you like shellfish, usually you can get better prices on clams too.

Whole Foods can be a back up, but generally I would say finding under $15lb at Whole Foods seems a stretch (at least where I am). If you are in an area that has a fish monger, getting the ‘off cuts’ can be great, if you are ok with that, and usually come cheaper.

Wild Fork is a company you should check out. They only have a few retail locations but sell online. They’re mostly about meat, but do have many fish selections. We’ve been very pleased with their quality.

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Where I live (couple/three hours from the CA coast), it is hard to believe anything here is fresh… and if it is, it ain’t really that fresh. If they say it is fresh, I’ll ask to smell it before I buy, and that has usually been a fail.

I have had good results from the local Safeway’s “Waterfront Bistro” frozen shrimp and skin on salmon fillets. I think it is important how you thaw it… I use a Tupperware container lined with paper towels overnight. This makes a huge difference over just putting the packaged product in the fridge.

I have tried to pull the trigger on a number of online entities, but the cost (with shipping) is very high, and the things I really want have been sourced from areas of the world that I am not a fan of.

So, clearly I don’t have an answer to this, but would recommend you hit up your local places… and check the packaging for where it is sourced.

I mostly buy frozen seafood at Trader Joe’s. Argentine shrimp and the seafood combination, for sauteeing, breaded cod or fish sticks for fish tacos. The trick with the shrimp and seafood combos is not to overcook. In fact, I just had some leftover paella with quick-sauteed shrimp and seafood, in a hot nonstick pan, cooked just a hair past defrosting.

I wanted to get some calamari bits at Whole Foods, but they were out. The clerk said that since their calamari was thawed, I could probably use their frozen version. I got a box but haven’t tried it yet.

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After my first career in the kitchen, I sold for Sysco. We had a great seafood specialist who’s now well known in the industry as a forward looking “guru” especially in retail seafood sales. He brought in frozen grey sole from Canada that were a byproduct catch from a big processing trawler, probably fishing for cod or pollock. It was filleted and individually frozen on board in quick order. It was almost indistinguishable from fresh. That’s the kind of frozen fish I’d like to find. I’m not interested in further processed, breaded, seasoned etc. I want to do that process myself.

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Our family friend buys fish in large amounts from Organic Ocean. I haven’t tried it, since I don’t have the freezer space. Not sure if they ship to the States or if it’s worth it, if they do. https://organicocean.com

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I shop at Costco regularly but rarely buy fresh fish as their packages are larger than the two portions I need. I do but fresh clams there.

Oily fish such as yellowtail or some tuna generally don’t freeze well, and even salmon can suffer if frozen too long," Harris said. Harris recommended opting for frozen pacific cod, tilapia, catfish, swordfish, walleye, pacific halibut, or pollack instead. Many people are worried that fish loses its health benefits when frozen, but it actually has the same nutritional value as fresh fish— none of the nutritional value is lost when fish is frozen

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It’s likely that there’s a Community Supported Fishery somewhere in your area. Like a CSA for seafood. Some have centralized pickup locations, some will deliver to a cooler you supply and leave at your door.

Trader Joe’s used to advertise that their fish is frozen (and I think vacuum sealed) out at sea, as soon as it is caught. I don’t know if this is still the case.

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Looks nice but very expensive.

Most of the fish you buy at the market is flash frozen at sea. This typically yields a fresher product than what you would get when purchased “fresh” at the market days after being caught. In fact all sushi, sashimi, ceviche served in the US, except tuna, is required by law to be frozen first, to kill parasites. I don’t agree with the blanket statement on the consistency of the fish when flash frozen. Thawing and refreezing is problematic though.
Trader Joe’s is generally reliable. Also Restaurant Depot is still serving the general public with a day pass obtained at the entrance.

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