TJ’s CALROSE RICE (Japanese rice)


In our house, we eat a lot of rice. For years, I have bemoaned the fact that TJ carried a few kinds of long grain rice (Thai Jasmine, Indian Basmati) which are all terrific, however they didn’t sell short grain rice (aka Japanese rice).

Well now they do. OK Trader Joe’s Calrose White Medium grain rice is yes technically a “medium grain”rice however the reality is this is for all intents very close to an Asian Japonica short grain. This is Sushi rice.

Finally! I can buy Asian rice at Trader Joe’s! Seeing this for the first time after so many year made me happy. It meant I would have fewer treks in future to H-Mart or an Asian supermarket in Chinatown or Flushing and lugging a 20 lb bag of short grain rice back home on the subway.

So what exactly is CalRose rice? (yes you guessed it’s from California).

https://www.allrecipes.com/article/what-is-calrose-rice/

Maybe you have seen Kokuho Rose brand rice . Or Nishiki? Brands of Calrose “sushi rice” grown in California. Nishiki brand is one popular brand in the US among Japanese.

https://amzn.to/3lbISIH

One thing I should point out. I found the directions on the package stating to “simmer for 30 minutes” crazy talk. That’s twice as long as one normally cooks white rice. Are they kidding? This is not brown rice. If you follow TJ’s instructions you will end up with very overcooked mushy rice. Yuk. So I recommend you cooking it this way. Wash rice gently. Drain rice 10 minutes in a colander to get rid of excess water. Put in pan adding 1 1/4 cups of water. Add a little salt. Turn heat to high and cover with a tight fitting lid. Set timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes check rice. You should see some “holes” with almost no water left. Turn heat to lowest setting. Cook for another 6-7 minutes. Turn off heat. Don’t open lid! Leave covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes rice should be perfect. Fluff rice with fork or chopsticks. Taste test it. If you really think its not done put on low heat for another 5 minutes. You’re welcome. (If you’re Japanese like my wife you will say, no don’t add any salt, but I prefer a adding a bit. Gomen!)

A 2 lb. bag of Trader Joe’s Calrose Medium Grain rice is $2.49. Pretty decent price as rice has gone up in price a lot since a few years ago.

Can you make sushi with this? You certainly can. Or easier – make rice and serve rice with Spicy Tuna (with mayo and Sriracha) and sheets of Nori (TJ seaweed snacks) for some hand rolls. Need a recipe? Here you go!

https://pickledplum.com/spicy-tuna-roll-recipe/

TJ Brown Rice Medley


Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley – “A delicious blend of long grain brown rice, black barley and daikon seeds”

This is both healthy and a bit different (better I think) than plain brown rice.

It’s a quite tasty blend of long grain par-boiled brown rice, plus two slightly unusual additions, black barley and daikon seeds. Who knew you can eat daikon seeds? We tried this rice blend and it got both mine and my wife’s seal of approval as making a very tasty and slightly nutty tasting rice side dish.

I have found Trader Joe’s instructions need a tiny bit of modification. I would reduce the liquid a tiny bit. Instead of the 2 1/2 cups the package suggest a bit less liquid. I would try 2 1/4 cups of water or stock (to 1 cup of the rice). Also if using just water add a bit a salt to taste. Letting it sit (without peeking!) at the end for 10 minutes is important so all the liquid gets absorbed. Then fluff up with a fork. Hitting this with some butter is a good idea! Serve with your favorite main.

Its $1.99 for a 1 pound bag. Worth trying.

PS If you find it a bit too mushy, the next time you make it reduce the cooking time to 30 minutes (plus the 10 minute rest covered)

Trader Joe’s KIMCHI


TJ KIMCHI Ingredients: Napa Cabbage, Radish, Onion, Red Pepper Powder, Salt, Garlic, Vinegar, Lactic Acid (Made in Korea)

Eating fermented foods is good for you and your gut!

I love kimchi and OK, I’m a bit picky about it. I want the good stuff! As someone who has Korean in-laws, and adores Korean cuisine, I have eaten a good deal of all kinds of Kimchi. I can tell really good Kimchi from “Just OK”.

Trader Joe’s has tried their hand at Kimchi before. Over the last few years, I would see Kimchi at TJ’s and eventually it seemed to vanish (?) Either they dropped it for a spell or maybe they were finding other vendors and changing the packaging. Before TJ’s current version sold in this red plastic jar, they had a kimchi sold in a soft plastic bag (see link). Frankly I have never been super impressed when I tried TJ’s Kimchi usually saying “it’s OK”.

https://www.thekitchn.com/trader-joes-has-kimchi-here-are-6-ways-to-use-it-183085

So my short review of of TJ’s latest kimchi is “it’s OK”. It’s not great but it’s decent. This is better than the one they sold previously in a bag. It’s certainly better than no Kimchi, if you can’t easily find kimchi where you live. I can’t say this latest TJ kimchi is as good as kimchi you would get from a Korean supermarket like H-Mart or even a small Korean owned fruit and veg grocer where the owners sell kimchi themselves. My corner Korean fruit and veg store sells some kimchi which is decent. So on the plus side this Trader Joe’s Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage Kimchi does have the kimchi fermented taste (from lactic acid, interestingly is listed on the label as an ingredient). I don’t find it terribly spicy, but I imagine this is a personal opinion.

If you can’t get Kimchi anywhere else this is one is “not bad”. Its about $4 for a 10 oz. jar. Honestly I’m happy that at least Trader Joe’s sells kimchi period. Maybe they will eventually find a terrific kimchi maker.

Besides eating kimchi uncooked you can also make some dishes with it. Kimchi is great as an ingredient, cooked. For example “Buta Kimchi (Pork & Kimchi)” (recipe: https://uncutrecipes.com/EN-Recipes-Japanese/Buta-Kimchi.html)

Or KIMCHI FRIED RICE.

Finally, think about some DIY Kimchi! It’s not hard to make actually. If you buy a few ingredients at a Korean grocer (like Kochugaru, Korean ground red pepper) its not terribly hard to make your own kimchi and I bet the result will be better than TJ’s and make you feel like a star when you impress people saying “I made it”. Aaron & Claire on YouTube have a good “easy kimchi” recipe made from regular cabbage (it’s a “summer kimchi”) I made it and my (Korean-Japanese) wife who has always said the TJ kimchi is no good told me the cabbage one I made based on Aaron& Claire’s recipe was amazing. It’s great one day later and will be amazing in two weeks in the fridge as it ferments.

TJ’s Giant Peruvian Inca Corn (Choclo) Snack


Trader Joe’s Giant Inca Peruvian Corn salted snacks.

These are my new favorite snacks. Crunchy. As in Super Crunchy. I think these are just delicious.

“PRODUCT OF PERU” From a variety of Inca Corn called “Choclo”. which has HUGE kernels grown in the Andes Mountains.

It says only three ingredients, CORN, oil, salt. OK, I wish it wasn’t palm oil but only 3 ingredients with the main one of course just corn. So healthier I think then say potato chips. Filled with corn-y goodness.

$1.99 bag.

Gluten Free of course!

TJ’s Roasted Whole Golden Flax Seeds (Omega-3 !)


Trader Joe’s Roasted Golden Flax Seeds (whole seeds) – “Naturally rich in Omega-3, Lignans and Dietary Fiber”

You may know that flax seeds are probably one of the healthiest things you can eat. We’re talking Super Food healthy ! For one thing flax seeds are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and are high in protein and fiber. Heart health: studies have shown just by eating 2 tablespoons of flax seeds a day, they can lower blood pressure 10-20 points. Personally every day I eat 2 spoons of flax seeds, which I grind up and mix with yogurt and/or soy milk in my breakfast cereal. I add some chia seeds to boot! You can also put theses in your smoothies.

Up to now I bought flax seeds (raw) in Bulk at a health food store. Then I saw these Roasted Flax Seeds at Trader Joe’s. After trying them I decided these are better tasting than the other ones. Why? Roasting them definitely improves the flavor of flax seeds making them more nutier tasting and crunchier.

You can either eat them whole or grind them up (coffee grinder or morter and pestle). You can sprinkle flax seeds on your morning cereal, put them into baked goods and sneak them into foods like baked goods as well as add them to your smoothies.

$2.99 / 15 oz bag

TJ’s Channa Masala (frozen)


Trader Joe’s Channa Masala (cooked chick peas with onions, tomato and spices)

Vegetarian

Trader Joe’s of course has quite a number of good frozen and non-frozen Indian foods, many worth exploring. If you haven’t tried this, I would say try it the next time you are doing an “Indian food” night. I find this is one of TJ’s best frozen offerings. Their “Channa Masala” (spiced chick peas) is really good; almost equal in taste to many Indian restaurants. Channa means Chick Peas. Masala means mixed spices. This dish is very tasty and well spiced, it can be nuked or cooked on the stove (let it defrost then put in a pan). It’s kind of a steal at $1.99. Serve this with Basmati Rice and some Naan and you have a meal for 2. Especially if you eat with TJ’s excellent Mango Chutney and some yogurt.

PS – no one says you can’t add something to this. I often add something ; like greens: chopped swiss chard or spinach and another pat of butter, cooked for 5 minutes. this variation with added greens is excellent.

$1.99 (10 oz package)

TJ’s Washable PAPER PLACE MATS


Trader Joe’s Washable Paper Placemats

Wait up, what….?!!! Trader Joe’s sells place mats? Yeah you read that right. These place mats recently appeared in the New Products “home goods” area at my TJ. Looking at them they so totally say “IKEA” cool to me. These intrigued me, then reading the label about how they’re made from “Supernatural Paper” (!) that really got me interested. Honestly I’m always intrigued that TJ’s has any home goods type things at all. They seem to especially appear around the holidays (I slightly regret not getting some olive wood bowls and cutting boards I saw last Xmas but they were a bit pricey even for TJ’s, but they looked beautiful and handmade). Anyway since we needed to replace some old place mats and these were just $10 bucks for a set of 4, I just grabbed them in kind of an impulse buy. I picked a darkish color out of the 4-5 colors on offer as I thought this darker grey / green color would hide dirt best. These mats are on the thin side meaning when you pick up a glass that was on them you may see a little ring depression where it was, but it brushed out easily by just swiping it with my fingers. They have what I might call all kind of faux leather texture. Feels a little like thick waxed rubbery paper? I believe there are two pieces sown together. “MADE WITH SUPERNATURAL PAPER (cellulose and latex). Latex = rubber. They say “CAN BE WASHED” (hand wash separately). I think I will avoid that if possible, and just wipe/wash them daily. Wiping them clean with a soapy sponge seems to work fine. I had a little stain from some food and just wiped the mat with a damp rag with a little soap and that took off the stain as I hoped. So the rubbery, waxy covering seems to work. I like them for a change from our textile place mats. My wife complained about the white stitching they have on the edges but that doesn’t bother me at all, I kind of like it. They have a funky feel going on…in a good Ikea way. The more I have used them and lived with them I have grown to like them more and really dig the funky Ikea-ness of these.

If you see them, check them out at least with a feel and see what you think. They are $10 for set of 4 mats ($2.50 each) and come in about 5 or 6 colors. Personally I would lean to the dark / earthy colors for hiding stains.

I found this online. Are they the makers of “Supernatural Paper”?

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC KETCHUP


RAVE

Great tasting ketchup

My wife thinks anything “organic” tastes better, while I think some things marked “organic” do, but some things don’t taste any better. This is one of those cases where yes ORGANIC is in fact better. Or should I just say that TJ’s Organic Ketchup is a great tasting ketchup, period, and possibly “the best” I’ve had. Now like most Americans Ketchup has always meant “Heinz” as I’ve been eating Heinz ketchup since well, forever, and it was probably the first ketchup I ever had in my life. When my wife brought home the Trader Joe’s organic ketchup and I tasted it (with doubts) my tastebuds did somehow react with something like, “wow, now this is ketchup”! I was pleasantly surprised and I had to admit to my wife yes this organic version was better tasting. She gave me a “I told you so” looks. Now I know Heinz switched from using sugar in their ketchup recipe to using high fructose corn syrup in their (regular) ketchup years ago, like most companies, as sugar is more expensive than corn syrup. Heinz has now come out with another version, a more expensive Heinz ketchup they call “Simply Heinz” (hah!) which does use sugar not corn syrup and the ingredients look more or less similar to Trader Joe’s. However for one thing all of Trader Joe’s ingredients say Organic. Interestingly also is the fact that TJ’s ketchup spells out the actual spices in their ingredients while Heinz just lists the generic word “spice” (why singular, not “spices”?!) TJ’s ketchups says organic spices than spells out: allspice, clove, red pepper, paprika and salt. Frankly I had no idea what specific spices were in ketchup, so maybe it’s the spices at least in part that makes TJ’s ketchup taste so good. In short, in our house we have switched brands to now buying only TJ’s ketchup. Sorry Heinz. This is better. And probably cheaper than Simply Heinz. TJ’s ketchup is $1.99 (24 oz) and for “certified organic” that’s not bad.

So if you’ve never tried TJ’s Organic Ketchup it is well worth giving a try. You just might switch brands too.

TIP: Want some Spicy Ketchup? I just mix this with as much or as little Sriracha as your taste buds are in the mood for. So good! Especially with burgers….

TJ’s AJIKA Georgian Spice Blend


“Spicy, garlicky & deeply aromatic & savory”

RAVE

Trader Joe’s AJIKA GEORGIAN SEASONING BLEND

Wow is this good! Its my new favorite spice!

Another delicious find I recently discovered in my TJ’s NEW PRODUCTS display. Frankly I had never heard of Ajika before seeing this at TJ. Googling it you learn Ajika is actually not a dry spice blend but more of a dip so one can assume this TJ spice seasoning blend is a dry seasoning blend which is based on the typical Georgian-Abkhaz (formerly USSR) condiment. Anyway this TJ seasoning is AMAZING! This is a terrific addition to all of thier “international spice blends” TJ seems very good at figuring out.

TJ’s AJIKA Georgian Seasoning Blend contains ground red chile (not super hot ones) with ground coriander, fenugreek, dried garlic, marigold (marigold?! yes the flower dried and ground up!) and a little salt. Garlicky, (mildly) spicy it is more flavorful spicy than hot spicy. Honestly the combination of all of these spices together is fantastic. Seriously delicious, I couldn’t stop sprinkling it on so many foods. It tastes quite unique to my taste buds. Is it the Fenugreek? The marigold? Which by the way I learn is very typical of Georgian Azkaban cuisine. It’s a combination of all of these things. I had made some sautéed yellow peppers and zucchini cooked in olive oil and put a good amount of this Ajika into it and it was delicious, adding wonderful flavors to the grilled veggies. I also sprinkled Ajika on top of a bagel with tomato and cream cheese and again it added a great taste. I tried in on cottage cheese, which was boring no more, they were perfect together. Its so good you begin to wonder, what is this not good on? I will try this on grilled boneless chicken breasts, it will be an excellent seasoning for chicken or pork or steak or fish.

The coriander and fenugreek are stand out flavorings that are not typical for our (American) palates. Try this Ajika blend sprinkled on eggs or in an omelet. Try also on : Fish, shrimp, turkey, chicken, steak, hamburger, or grilled tofu for that matter. A turkey burger with this is so much more flavorful and tasty. I think it would be good with SO many things. Grilled vegetables and EVOO plus this are great. This was made for tomatoes which the original has. Mix some of this up with greek yogurt for a lovely easy sauce. Go nuts with this. I know I am. The internet apparently is going crazy for this. I was Wowed upon first tasting this. Yes its so good as people are saying. On a 1-10 level of heat I would put this at maybe 4, So barely spicy, very tolerable, especially mixed with foods.

If you see Ajika grab a jar to try. It may be seasonal or TJ simply testing the waters for interest. If you try this you may love it as much as I am loving it (along with the whole internet) and if you come up with some interesting ideas and/or uses for it, or some recipes, please post it in the Comments section. Oh BTW the word “Ajika” may come from the Abkhaz word for salt.

Aha Wikipedia states: “A dry form of ajika exists that is sometimes called svanuri marili in Georgian”

$1.99 a jar. Wow.

https://www.mashed.com/384027/trader-joes-fans-are-psyched-for-its-new-ajika-georgian-seasoning/

TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPERCORNS in spice grinder


This may seem ho-hum because we are so used to seeing it by now but come on, let’s admit the spices TJ sells in built-in grinders are one of the greatest product innovations in history. I’m serious. Since all spices taste best freshly ground, it’s a huge plus that you can buy not just whole peppercorns but a number of spices & spice blends in these plastic grinders at TJs. I particularly am fond of TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPERCORNS. It’s especially nice as it’s a blend of 3 peppercorns from 3 different continents! They come from Brazil, India and Malaysia. Packed in South Africa. Wow. Peppercorns have gone up in price and I think this used to sell for $1.99, it’s now $2.29. Its the same price as a tin TJ sells of ground pepper so I would say this is better. I buy pepper grinders in pairs, one for the kitchen and one for the table.

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