Sunday, March 20, 2011

STARFISH (Gluten Free Battered Seafood Review)

I remember being able to throw some fish sticks in the oven for my daughter and taking the day off from cooking. Of course these days with her gluten intolerance that doesn’t get to happen much because of the lack of choices. Granted, there are gluten free brands out there for fish sticks, but they are beyond subpar, and she will not eat them because they do not taste good at all, and honestly I don’t blame her. I will admit though, my daughter has become a food snob of sorts these days. She loves food, and with me being able to make anything she desires and make it super tasty, it’s like watching the judges table on Food Network’s Iron Chef when she eats food from a box or when we are out at a restaurant….man she’s a tough sell! To be honest, we all grow up and fish sticks are not on the grown up menu these days. As this is the case, I have not been scouring the internet for a suitable GF fish stick, nor was I interested in perfecting this one on my own. What I have made on my own is GF Beer Battered Fish and Onion Rings (a post for the upcoming months for sure!). And while they are truly delicious, it is messy to make, time consuming and a heart attack waiting to happen since they are deep fried. Then one day while doing research on goodness knows what, I found myself 15 links deep past what I was even looking for and suddenly there it was, the Starfish Seafood website.

I never heard of this company nor have I seen them at any of the food shows I have attended. But even more interesting was that they stated that the gluten free battered fish was also soy, egg, milk and peanut free. I had to do a double take, so I reread that line about 7 times before I told my wife to read what I was reading. To us, this is a big deal. There are a lot of products out there that are gluten free or gluten and soy free, but egg and dairy are always an issue because my wife cannot have either. So to find a recipe that is free of all of the major allergens in one product, we just had to try it. So I got to work, sent out my email and viola, its review time!

Starfish sent me all of their battered varieties; Cod, Haddock and Halibut. And while I thought we would try them over a few weeks time, this would not be the case. It happens that this particular Thursday night when the package arrived that my wife had found the box on our doorstep before I got home and may have been shall we say, a little bit overexcited. Let’s just say that it was “seafood extravaganza Thursday” at the Biscione house that night as all three varieties were cooked and waiting for me on the kitchen table when I walked in the door. Seriously, it was like looking at the kitchen of a seafood restaurant there was so much fish out!

We tried them all and went back for seconds of each kind. We seriously could not stop eating them! The batter on the fish was crunchy, light and really tasty and the fish itself was super fresh tasting. I had the home made tartar and hot sauce out, but I never even used them because the fish was just that delicious on its own.

And here is the coolest part about these products, they are oven baked! Yep, out of the freezer, onto a baking tray and into the oven to bake. No oil, no mess to clean up, no ME sitting over a deep fryer getting the oil temperature just right and mixing my own batter. Nope, this is mid-week, easy to do, I just got home from work stuff. If you are a working parent, you have to appreciate the ease of making these products. But more so you have to love the fact that these are every bit as delicious as their gluten containing deep friend counterparts, if not better!

Now onto the company info:

Starfish cleans their manufacturing lines thoroughly under HACCP guidelines and testes for gluten before, during and after production (this is sent out to a lab for results). No product can go out unless it is meets the FDA guidelines of under 20ppm, but this is not good enough for Starfish. They instead have adhered to the Celiac Sprue Associations’ rule of under 5ppm (they sport the logo on their product box). Eric told me that the company is very proud of the fact that all of their products come back tested as “none detected” for gluten.

When I asked Eric why Starfish got into gluten free food production, he replied to me in an email stating “We decided to get into the gluten free arena after sampling many different GF items. We spent almost 3 years working on developing a gluten free batter that would be as good if not better that the regular gluten product. The products that were on the market when we started, we felt we could make a better product.”

SOLD…I love the fact that they are in it to make delicious food and not just to jump on the "gluten free bandwagon" (as I call it) to make money and sell a horrid tasting product (which is something seen all too often these days). They test their product thoroughly for gluten, which gives me peace of mind when serving this product to my family. And this product is just downright delicious. Run out and get like 20 boxes, because honestly you can’t stop eating these filets once you start. Now go get some and have a fish-fest of your own…and you won’t be needing the tartar sauce.

Star Fish:

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