Trader Joe’s (vegan) Korean Beefless Bulgogi


Bulgogi is a very popular Korean BBQ dish of marinated beef which is grilled. Trader Joe’s frozen “Korean Beefless Bulgogi consists of little strips of “vegetarian meat” made from soy protein and other things, made to resemble Bulgogi . It seems to be a bit of a hit, especially with vegetarians, which I am not. The texture of these strips kind of make it resemble beef. They have a fairly pleasant chewy, tender texture with a beefy mouthfeel. They don’t really have any sauce in the package. I think these will be tastier if you do give them some sauce. TJ’s Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste, $1.99) is a no-brainer to go with these. That can make a fast easy sauce for these which will match well with the strips which are a little plain on their own.

TJ’s Bulgogi Vegan Strips cooked up into a tasty Stir Fry with vegetables and a little seasoning

To best enjoy these, I suggest you don’t do this super lazy thing I see on the ‘net, being just microwave this up and put it on rice, which is what I see with people exclaiming “this is the bomb”. I can only imagine these people have never tasted actual Korean cooking? Just putting this on rice may be edible but so boring people! Don’t be so lazy… Think of these strips as the protein in a dish, and cook up something with them. First know that these will be best if you get a little sear on them so don’t just nuke them, you should brown them up in a pan. Below is one recipe stir fry idea for these. You can throw a dish together in 10 minutes with just a little effort. First – TJ’s often says “Heat From Frozen” on the package. I disagree about cooking food from frozen which TJ’s often recommends. I suggest defrosting this before cooking.

I just left the package in my fridge overnight. Or take it out in the morning for that nights dinner. Or just leave on the counter for maybe an hour or two out of the box. In a pinch you could just run water over the (unopened) bag in a bowl till the strips are defrosted.

STIR FRY: Put a tablespoon of TJ’s Toasted Sesame Oil (or any oil) in a pan. On medium heat, add the defrosted strips and let them cook in a single layer until they get a little sear (maybe 3-5 minutes?). Don’t move them as they sear. When they are seared, toss in some vegetables of your choosing, cut into bite size pieces. In the picture above I used 3 cloves of sliced garlic (garlic is a must) 1/2 an onion, 2 sticks of celery, 1/2 a yellow pepper. Increase the veggies as you see fit. Sauté the veggies with the strips for about 5 minutes, stir frying them till crispy tender. I seasoned this for a little more flavor. Toss in 1 Tbs soy sauce, and a 1/2 tsp of TJ’s Red Boat fish sauce if you have it. Add a tablespoon of Palm Sugar or honey and little ACV, lime or lemon juice for acidity. Turn off the heat and add another teaspoon or two of Toasted Sesame Oil. If you have them, sprinkle on sesame seeds and chopped scallions. I suggest drizzling on Gochujang sauce (for a super easy sauce, just mix a tablespoon or two of Gochujang and equal amount water till its a smooth sauce) Drizzle that sauce over the finished dish. Soft lettuce with these is nice (to make “Saam” lettuce wraps) and serve the stir fried dish with some white (or brown) rice.

If you want to be a bit lazy and not have to cut up vegetables, you can just buy a pack of TJs Asian vegetables. and cook that with these strips after the browning part.

Ingredients include soy sauce, pear puree, onion, garlic, apple puree, sugar, cornstarch, guar gum, soy protein, rice flour, wheat gluten and soybean oil

So how close is this to actual beef Bulgogi? First I am not vegan and I adore real Bulgogi. These are pretty good and slightly resemble beef however they would not fool me as real beef (though frankly my Korean wife didn’t know they weren’t beef unill I told her!) What they got right here, is the texture, which is pretty good, a little chewy and “beefy”. But I totally recommend you fix them up as mentioned above and cook them into something tasty.

A package is $3.49. Note: This is Vegan but it is NOT Gluten Free (contains Wheat Gluten). Gluten is what gives this the nice chewy texture. Buddhist have been using Wheat Gluten for Vegetarian Mock meat for a thousand years. That is what “Seitan” is.

Re: Trader Joe’s and Discontinued Items, this is a must read/listen


I came across these two links here recently and want to share them for the insight into Trader Joe’s and discontinued products.

Now to us consumers, it may be your favorite item at Trader Joe’s. But Trader Joe’s has very limited shelf space, compared to a regular supermarket. They average only 4,000 items in a store. So if something doesn’t sell enough Units, to the decision makers at Trader Joe’s that is a “slow sales item”. It will likely be discontinued and be replaced with some other product. We, the consumer have little or nothing to do with it, other than the sales numbers. Read the transcript of the full INSIDE TRADER JOE’S podcast, to get insight into how they decide these things. Its not happy news for us consumers but that’s the way it is, like it or not, I guess. Pretty much don’t take it personal, “it’s just business”. This is why even when I love an item, I know in the back of my mind “don’t fall in love”… Or if I really like it, I may buy a few of them if they can last, just in case….

https://www.thekitchn.com/trader-joes-discontinued-groceries-podcast-23444348

This is particularly disheartening!

What can you do if your favorite TJ’s item is discontinued? Honestly, there’s not much you can do to bring your favorite groceries back once they’re gone. However, if you want to talk about it, there’s the Trader Joe’s Discontinued 🙁 Facebook group (and yes, the sad face is part of the group’s name).”

TRADER JOE’S PODCAST

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/podcast


Inside Trader Joe’s Podcast Transcript — ICYMI: Discontinued Products

Tara: Hey, Matt, what happened to the Peach Salsa?
Matt: In case you missed it, Trader Joe’s Spicy, Smoky Peach Salsa, it was discontinued.
Tara: Yeah, I noticed cuz it’s my favorite salsa of all time and now I can’t buy it.
This is a good topic for another I-C-Y-M-I Edition of Inside Trader Joe’s.
Matt: I-C-Y-M-I, in case you missed it.
Tara: These mini-episodes give us an opportunity to address some of the questions our crew members hear from customers most often.
Matt: And keep asking. The crew loves to answer questions.
Matt: Thinking about getting rid of products, discontinuing products. More often than not, it’s not an indictment of the product itself.
Tara: What gives?
Matt: Well, you know, oftentimes we’ll use a phrase and we probably overly rely on it, slow sales. What does that really mean? What it means is that there weren’t enough customers interested in buying the Peach Salsa to have it continue to make sense. Because if you don’t have high volume or growing volume, the costs of producing and handling a slow selling product are such that it doesn’t make business sense for us. And if you think about how small our stores are, and on a relative basis, they’re smaller than most grocery stores. And how few products we have? On a comparative basis, we have a lot fewer products than other grocery stores. We just physically don’t have room to carry things that aren’t popular, as disappointing as that is to hear and experience.
Tara: So there’s another piece of this, Matt, that I think is kind of important. And it’s what we don’t do to put products on our shelves.
Matt: How so?
Tara: So a lot of retailers work with the companies that make their products, the Consumer Packaged Goods Companies, to put products on shelves using something called
slotting fees. So the Consumer Packaged Goods, the CPG Companies pay the retailer, the
grocery store for shelf space. So even if a product doesn’t sell very well, and even if you see
it in the store and it’s covered with dust, it’s not going anywhere until the Consumer
Packaged Goods Company decides it doesn’t make sense to produce that product anymore.
Matt: Ah, now I get it. It’s the classical play of making money anywhere other than
with a customer buying something at the cash register.
Tara: Right. And at Trader Joe’s, the only way we make money is when the customer buys something at the cash register. So apparently I didn’t buy enough Peach Salsa. But that means that that product hasn’t earned its place on our shelves. We’re not getting paid by the producer of that product to keep it on the shelves. And our business model says let’s develop something new that might sell better and make more customers happy.
Matt: And that approach can feel and sound so cold-hearted, and yet it’s important that we maintain our objectivity about what really is or isn’t working, what really isn’t selling because ultimately customers do let us know if they like something or not.
Tara: Yeah, and I’ll be honest, when I went to buy it that one day a few weeks ago, I was just so sad standing there in front of the salsa selection in the store. And then I thought, okay, I’ll try something new. The great thing about discontinued products is it almost always
means there’s something new coming soon. You can always find new things on our
shelves. A lot of our stores have like a new product section where they’ll highlight a whole
bunch of things that have recently shown up in the stores. It’s kind of fun to try something
new.
Matt: So I see why I, and maybe this is the missing salsa edition, but if you’re
looking for the Double Roasted Salsa, which was one of my favorites, which was sadly
discontinued, you might consider trying the Guajillo Salsa, which I find to be a nice albeit
slightly spicier replacement.
Tara: And I also have taken to the Pineapple Salsa to replace the Peach Salsa if
I’m in the mood for something that has a little sweetness to it. So, there are options. We,
you know, we don’t have every product in the world, but we do have some good options.
Matt: We work hard, the product development team, the tasting panel group, they
work on things by tasting them. They think these things make sense. They think that they’re
delicious. They think they’re worth customers’ time and attention. And if that doesn’t pan
out in that way, well, we’ve gotta move on. Of course, there can be reasons other than slow
sales. Um, if there are quality issues or that we determined that the value that we once had
is no longer as strong. If we are facing different competitive pressures on a given product.
And yet, overwhelmingly, the reason for things to be discontinued at Trader Joe’s is a lack of
interest, slow sales.
Tara: Yeah.
Tara: I’m Tara Miller.
Matt: And I’m Matt Sloan.
Tara: In case you missed it. That’s why your favorite product might have been discontinued it. Thanks for listening.

Trader Joe’s GARLIC SPREAD (with recipe hack)


If you really love garlic then you will love this TJ’s intense garlic spread as much as I do. I found this stuff amazingly delicious, It can be thought of both as a spread and also an ingredient too! I found it’s great to add in cooking.

Quite a few food culture’s have some type of garlic spread. In Lebanese cooking, they have the garlic spread, “Toum“. In Greece, they have “Skordalia made from garlic, olive oil and potato. The South of France has the yummy yellow garlicky mayonnaise called “Aioli“. Trader Joe’s version is basically a Lebanese Toum spread. An emulsified paste of garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt, traditionally made in a mortar and pestle. I’m sure any Lebanese cook would use olive oil in it but here Trader Joe’s has used (cheaper) canola oil. They did not skimp on garlic though! TJ’s GARLIC SPREAD is so garlicky it’s not funny. Garlic lovers will want to try this on everything.

Need some Ideas? To start with just try this spread on thin slices of toasted baguettes, which will be match well with salads, like a crouton or garlic bread. This stuff is especially good for pasta dishes. Just toss in a spoonful into your finished pasta, especially tomato pasta (PESTO ROSSO? Add some of this to jazz it up!) Use this instead of butter for cooking grilled cheese sandwiches. Put a little into your tuna or egg salad. Eggs, try some in an Omelet for some kick. Salmon or other fish, for sure. Put some into your mashed potatoes to jazz them up! Almost any vegetable dish will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this (vegag) garlic spread, so it’s ideal for vegans and vegetarians and us non-vegetarians. It was amazing on the CHICKEN SHAWARMA. Greek yogurt plus this is a easy great sauce. Here’s a recipe I came up with using spinach which is really tasty.

FROZEN SPINACH HACK RECIPE – Just two ingredients, frozen spinach and garlic spread. Rinse frozen spinach in colander till its mostly defrosted. Shake or squeeze out most of the excess water. Cook the spinach up in a pan with and add in a nice heaping tablespoon (or more) of the Garlic Spread (optional: toss in a bit of butter). Mix well. A few shakes of Black Pepper…. and DONE! You have an easy great tasting spinach side dish in about 2 minutes.

Almost any vegetable dish will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this VEGAN spread, so it’s ideal for vegans and vegetarians to give a enormous flavor boost to most things. One thing to remember, it does have calories like a mayonaisse. 2 Tbls have about 150 calories.

Its $2.99.

Trader Joe’s “COWBOY CAVIAR” (corn & black bean salsa)


“Corn, black bean and pepper salsa. Smoky sweet with just the right amount of kick” – Trader Joe’s

This is a must try, if you never had it. Both my wife and I really, really love this terrific salsa. We both even think it could be a pick for a TJ’s Top Ten.

“Cowboy Caviar” – You gotta love that name. “Cowboy Caviar” is a typical South Western dish made with kernels of corn, beans (black beans and/or black eyed peas) in a tomato base. Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar is a great version, maybe more in a salsa style with corn, black beans, red bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, lime juice and spices, with some kick to it, from chipotle chiles in adobe which give it a bit of heat plus a smoky undertone. TJ’s doesnt have the heat level rating on the jar. Call it a medium heat? This stuff is soooo good as a salsa, as a dip for chips, like the Corn Dippers, on top of tacos, on top of rice, with eggs, mixed into veggies, alongside grilled chicken, or as a little side dish…. you name it, I think it will perk it up. Its a really good pantry item to have on hand. You can put out some of this with chips or crackers and you can have something in a few seconds for unexpected guests. A jar now goes for $2.99 (13 oz)

I would buy it again.

Seen at Trader Joe’s: PONYTAIL PALM (Elephant Foot) plants


Beautiful looking PONYTAIL PALM plants, a/k/a Elephants Foot Palm

Very robust and healthy looking and at a decent price, I think they could easily sell for 20-30 bucks.

I have one which is now about 20 yrs old…..

See this link for How To Care for this lovely plant

Trader Joe’s GARLIC BREAD CHEESE


” A mild cow’s milk cheese seasoned with garlic powder and baked golden brown”

What is Trader Joe’s “bread cheese”. It’s a cheese you grill. It’s really, really good, too good perhaps!

Inspired by a popular cheese in Finland, Trader Joe’s “Bread Cheese” is a firm cheese with a high melting point which has been pre-baked until golden brown, then packaged up. We grill the cheese until it it gets all melty and gooey. While it is nice and soft, you eat the slightly squeaky yummy cheese which is kind of like a mozzarella stick without the breading. In fact they suggest you dunk it in some tomato sauce. Some people have put the Hot Honey on it. Some have put Ranch on it. I like it Greek style with fresh lemon juice sprinked on the hot cheese. This stuff is wonderful on top off a salad, or eaten with with a crusty baguette or other bread. You will come up with lots of ways to enjoy it and anyway you eat this, you will find it delicious. Its about $4.29 for the package (6 oz). I would buy this again.

My suggestion. Serve it Greek Style like Saganaki. Slice into thick slices, grill them in a small pan with a little olive oil until they get GBD and gooey then sprinkle with lemon and bring the whole pan to the table for everyone to enjoy with some warm bread.

TJ’s sells another yummy cheese for grilling called HALOUMI, which is also delicious. Try them both.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/garlic-bread-cheese-071622

“Known in its native Finland as juustolepä, Bread Cheese contains no wheat, or gluten, nor anything else of that nature, but rather gets its name from its hearty, remarkably bread-like consistency and squeaky, Halloumi-like texture. And much like Halloumi, Trader Joe’s Garlic Bread Cheese is best served nice and warm, after it’s had a chance to get just a little melty and gooey.”

Trader Joe’s

Trader Joe’s “Feed 4 for $10” recipes…


https://www.traderjoes.com/home/discover/guides/10-dollar-recipes-to-feed-four

Trader Joe’s acknowledges what we customers know all too well now: how much more expensive it is to feed your family these days due to price increases and inflation. We consumers need to get the biggest bang for the buck from every dollar we can. Hence I think Trader Joe’s is smart to admit this and “help” us with some ideas and recipes in their

“Feed 4 for $10” guide.

Visit that link for Trader Joe’s recipes. One recipe is for an EASY SPICY CHILI with ground chicken, a can each of tomatoes and beans and their super useful TACO SEASONING mix (which I swear by and only costs .79 cents!) They say this Chicken Chili costs about $9.04 to feed four. I would budget in another $1.60 to buy some Corn Tortillas which will be good with chili. They assume you have rice in your pantry. I have a chili recipe with ground turkey which is similar to theirs. Check that out too. You can just switch the turkey for chicken if you prefer. Currently a pound of ground chicken at the moment is 3.99. Ground meats have no waste and I think makes a decent bang as the main / protein. GROUND TURKEY is about $4.29 for a pound. Want to make a VEGETARIAN CHILI? You can use these recipes, just swap in some organic tofu (drained well and crumbled). The Organic Tofu is still only $1.99! Some people swear if you freeze tofu, it gives a better “meatier” texture

https://www.bhg.com/recipes/how-to/cooking-basics/freezing-tofu/

Trader Joe’s GOLDEN ROUNDS CRACKERS


Similar in appearance to famed Ritz crackers (which in my lifetime, I’ve probably eaten a few thousand of. ). These however I think these may be slightly healthier with better ingredients. For one thing, comparing the ingredients labels, I see TJ GOLDEN ROUNDS list Sunflower Oil and Cane Sugar in them whereas Ritz’s ingredients include Palm Oil and High Fructose Corn Syrup. How are these compared to Ritz? They’re good! (OK maybe a tiny bit less compared to Ritz) But the ingredients here are a bit healthier for you and that small difference in taste is outweighed by this. These crackers were very good tasted with a bit of Unexpected Cheddar cheese on top. These crackers are perfect for a cheese plate or snacks. There are about 100 crackers in a box. TJ Golden Round crackers sell for $1.99. $2.69.

Give these a try. I would buy them again.

Seen at Trader Joe’s: PINEAPPLE PLANTS (baby so cute!)


Just to give you an idea of how small it really is, the cute little pineapple growing on the stalk is about the size of my thumb. It looks so cool and adorable.

Full name of the plant is PINEAPPLE BROMELIAD. See the link for info on care and growing.

TJ’s was selling these for $15.99

Now have you ever wondered why you see so many pineapples in depicted in design, old buildings and architecture? There is a reason: it showed wealth and hospitality.

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-hidden-history-of-the-housewarming-pineapple

Trader Joe’s SELECT HARVEST CURATED COFFEE


NEW PRODUCT

This is a very good “curated” blend of two single origin coffees from Central America, specifically from El Salvador and Nicaragua. It’s a 50/50 mix of both, each roasted differently, one to a Medium roast and one as a Light roast, to bring out the ideal flavors of each. I found this coffee to be very tasty, smooth and delicious. Its $9.99 for a 12 oz bag of whole beans. I think if Starbucks or your local coffee high end shop was selling this kind of “curated blend” they would charge almost double that.

I would buy this again.

TIP: The best way to buy coffee is like this, as WHOLE BEANS. Why? Coffee has a ton of volatile oils which are best ground right before you want to use it. You get the maximum flavor if you grind up some beans just before you brew it. Now, if you don’t have a grinder at home, use the grinder at Trader Joe’s. When you get home, put the bag of ground coffee into a freezer bag, seal it and keep it in the freezer. You can put a few days worth of ground coffee in an empty air tight jar to keep it fresh.

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