Or so I thought.
We rarely buy 'real' fish at home anymore due to the cost. I used to love fresh plaice fillets with a jacket potato (in fact it's one of the things I cooked many years ago in GCSE food technology) but when you are working to a budget and weighing up the cost of a small piece of fresh fish vs a bag of frozen portions it's a no-brainer. I was really excited then when Tesco, the 2014 Meat and Fish Retailer of the Year Award, asked us to try their range of fresh fish as part of the 'orchard food' panel.
We were given £4 to redeem against either fresh counter fish or off the shelf (but not frozen). I looked at the fish counter and to be honest it scared me. It wasn't easy to work out portion prices- I know a pre-pack will make a serving but ask me how many grams I am buying and I'll look at you very blankly. I am sure, had I not been in a hurry, the staff would have helped me out as all Tesco's fishmonger's have undertaken training to ensure they have a level 2 Diploma Award in Fish and Shellfish Industry Skills, something no other UK retailer offers.
I decided to take a look at the pre-packs on the shelves, expecting a large range (as it's quite a big store) there was only 1 small bay of fresh fish. There was a variety of choice, fresh cod portions, breaded fish portions, fishcakes and seafood galore (we do not live near the cost). I quite fancied making a fish pie and the 'mix' was available. Unfortunately it included salmon and I'm not keen in that, At £4 however it looks like a great price for feeding your family.
I searched high and low for plaice but there was none at all, which I found quite disappointing, and instead settled for some 'lightly dusted' cod and haddock at £2.80 each (for 2). These are fillets of
fish coated in a thin, light batter which has been dusted with a sea salt and black pepper crumb to give them a great flavour. If you are concerned about sustainability you needn't be, both are responsibly sourced from the Atlantic coast of Scotland
They were really easy to cook, just pre-heat the oven to 180°C, Gas 6, 200°C and bake for 18-20 minutes. As there were only 3 of us eating I was glad to see they are also able to be cooked straight from frozen so the last one won't go to waste.
I cooked the 2 cod ones and 1 haddock and the 3 of us had a bit of each, the boys said the haddock tasted better then the cod, while I was the other way round. As I am trying to diet for the new year (not that you'd know if from the chocolate I've been putting away) I needed a healthy accompaniment for the fish. I went for new potatoes and peas while the kids had potato letters and peas.
It must have been good as both boys returned clean plates to me without me having to nag them to eat up.
One benefit I would say over the fresh fish as opposed to frozen is the succulence. I find some frozen fish to be quite tough, whereas these ones flaked away easily with no need for a knife, yet stayed together on the baking tray.
Would I buy them again? Perhaps if they are on offer or for a special occasion, but £2.80 for pack is quite a lot to spend when you are on a tight budget.
Do you like fish? How do you buy and cook yours?
Disclaimer: I was able to try these for less thanks to the Orchard at Tesco programme. The thoughts and opinions remain my own.