Trader Joe’s SLICED KOREAN RICE CAKES


Here’s another new Korean/Asian item from Trader Joe’s. These are flat oval shaped disks made from sticky rice, so are very chewy and soft. These kind of rice cakes are a typical ingredient in Chinese, Korean and other Asian cuisines. In Chinese cooking they are known as “nian gao”. If you fry them they get a little crispy, which is how I like them best and the way you should use these. The bag has just the rice cakes (no sauce) to make however you like, typically made into a stir fried dish with vegetables and a protein. There is a basic stir fry recipe on the bag for Stir Fried Rice Cakes with Vegetables. which you could expand upon with adding a protein (say chicken, shrimp, pork or baked tofu.) Tip: add garlic which this recipe omits( !) You could come up with a Korean stir fry variation by adding some Kimchi and pork or chicken. The rice cakes are $3.29 a one pound and are in the frozen section. They are a “Product of Korea”. VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE

Here’s another recipe for Chinese Stir Fried Rice Cakes.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/sliced-korean-rice-cakes-074566

Trader Joe’s GINGER DRINK MIX


I make GINGER TEA (just boil ginger in water) and really like that. This tastes pretty much exactly like that. So while cheaper to make it yourself of course, my wife really liked this Ginger Drink Mix both for the convenience and taste, so she’s buying this regularly now. It’s $2.99 (7 packets). Dissolve with 12 oz water hot or cold. Product Of Thailand.

Want to make it yourself for way less ? Here’s my ginger tea “recipe”. Take about 1″ or so of fresh ginger. Slice it up and put in a pot with about 2 cups of water. Boil for 10 minutes or so. Add sugar if desired. Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s SMOKED PAPRIKA


Traeder Joe’s has these cans of SMOKED PAPRIKA, which is Spanish Pimenton. Smoky, mildly sweet and flavorful. This lovely paprika is really nice in so many things and matches well with chicken, fish, shrimp and especially well with pork. I frequently make Pork Tenderloin Filets, cut into thickish slices (tournedos) coated very liberally with a lot of smoked paprika, crushed garlic and salt and pepper, for a super easy dish which takes about 5 minutes. Just sauté the “tournedos” in a good amount of Olive Oil till golden brown but still pretty rare on the inside. Remove and add a little stock, wine or even water to deglaze the pan to make a pan sauce with a few knobs of butter. Easy, fast and delicious. TJ’s SMOKED PAPRIKA is $2.49 a tin.

Trader Joe’s ROASTED TOMATILLO SALSA VERDE


You will find Trader Joe’s FRESH SALSA VERDE in the refrigerated section, and it’s quite good. If you are just used to tomato based (red) salsas and you want to try something a little bit different for your Mexican dishes, a Salsa Verde like this is a great variation to try out. This salsa is made primarily from roasted tomatillos. Tomatillo based green salsas are very typical in Mexico, and frequently one will find both a red and green salsa next to each other for the diner to choose from. Though they slightly resemble a green tomato, in fact tomatillos are at best distant cousins to tomatoes. The tomatillo is a unique green fruit native to Mexico which were around for a thousand years or more way before the tomato was even brought by the Spanish Conquistadors (after 1500). Tomatillos are covered with papery skins, which is also pretty unique.

This Salsa Verde also has jalapenos, green chili pureé, roasted red onion, cilantro and cumin in it for a an authentic Mexican flavor.. I liked this salsa. Its not very spicy. I find it somewhere around “Medium” in the heat department so may be good for those who don’t like Really Spicy Stuff but want some great flavors. I tried it on some pork carnitas tacos and it was great with them, bringing out the pork and enhancing it perfectly. Its was also great on eggs, either on top of a fried egg or an omelet or scrambled eggs. This is great on fish, shrimp, beef, pork or chicken. I had some leftover roasted chicken which was a little dry. We just put some of this salsa over the chicken and and Voila, it made the chicken worth eating again. I have a feeling it would even be good with some grilled Tofu or just on top of rice or a protein bowl. This salsa verde goes for $2.99 for a 12 oz tub. I would buy this again.

PS – one reader likes using this to make an easy version of Green Pozole, which sounds great.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC APRICOT PRESERVES


RAVE

“Made with organic apricots! Sweet-tart, golden orange deliciousness that’s great on toast” – Trader Joe’s

An absolutely delicious apricot preserve made in Canada from organic apricots. If you are a fan of apricots and apricot jam as I am, you too will probably love this stuff as much as I do as it has the most intense apricot taste. I put some of this preserve on a slice of TJ’s rye bread toasted with butter. So yummy. Ditto, on an English Muffin. How about with peanut butter? Great combo. I put a pinch on a cracker with goat cheese. Yum. It’s wonderful with many cheeses. I am really in love with TJ’s apricot preserves, so good on practically anything it’s almost dangerous. I confess my jar became half empty pretty quickly! TJ’s Organic Apricot Preserve is a wee bit more expensive than some other jams TJ’s sells. This one goes for $4.29 for a 17.5 oz jar, however it is Organic and super premium. My only (minor) complaint is it doesn’t have enough little chunks of apricots; there are some but its mostly smooth (its very thick) but this is the tiniest complaint as I like chunky preserves. Taste-wise this stuff is wonderful. So if you like apricots, you will love this. I would buy this again, with pleasure. I am on my second jar already.

Seen at Trader Joe’s: IVY WREATH with lights


I think there’s something about buying a living plant against cut flowers or trees that won’t last. So instead of buying a wreath to hang on the door, which will just last a few weeks, this live ivy plant trained into a wreath shape will keep going all year round, as long as you water it. So while you can’t hang it on your door of course you could put this wreath shaped plant in a window with it’s blinking lights, or perhaps on a table as the centerpiece for a holiday decoration. The ones I saw at TJ’s the other day looked very healthy to me. Ivy can last forever if you take care of it. Could even be a Gift? Come with a little bag which has a short sting with about a dozen small white LED lights (takes 3 AA batteries). You can save this LED light string and use it over and over again, like I have. $12.99

“Keep soil evenly moist, partial to full sun”

Seen at Trader Joe’s: Xmas GRUMP TREE


TJ’s has these little Grump trees for sale again right now for Xmas. They are cute and a pretty good deal for just $9.99. These can make a funny gift…. But wait, why”Grump” Tree? I’m guessing it’s for copyright reasons. TJ’s doesn’t want to say Grinch less they get sued by the Dr. Seuss estate. However they can get away with saying Grump and we all get the reference to The Grinch by it’s design (a clever idea just wrapping the tree to a point). If you don’t feel like laying out a ton of money for a Christmas tree ($50-150?) maybe you could get away with a little Grump tree and dress it up really nice with a lot of decorations… And it will last. If you take care of it, it will grow and grow and maybe you can use it for a few years. “Will eventually grow into a large tree. Keep well watered.”

Trader Joe’s “THAI WHEAT NOODLES”


NEW PRODUCT

I was so happy to see these packages of vacuum packed fresh noodles in Trader Joe’s NEW ITEMS area recently. I think sometime in the past Trader Joe’s sold some kind of fresh Asian noodle (rice noodles?) but none I can recall for a few years. Trader Joe’s “Thai Wheat Noodles” are a pretty typical Asian style noodle. Think Udon maybe? As far as these being “Thai” these are as much Chinese or Japanese as they are Thai. They do say Product of Thailand hence the name. These can be used for any kind of Asian dish. A 21 oz package is $2.99. They’re basically cooked and ready to use and come in 3 individual bags of about 1 portion each, ready to use in a recipe. Each bag has about 7 ounces of noodles. To me frankly that makes a skimpy portion of noodles for one and I wish these had just a bit more in a pack, say 8 ounces each for a more decent portion. I found one bag will make a portion for one for a finished noodle dish factoring in the other ingredients you will use. So I definitely suggest you “beef it up” with stuff: veggies, proteins, etc. For my dish (pictured below) I had a a few pieces of cooked chicken tenderloins in my fridge so I topped it with this chicken plus a lot of scallions and slivered cucumbers. I basically used the recipe they have on the box for “Sesame Scallion Noodles”. TIP: Right out of the package these noodles are really stuck together into an almost impenetrable noodle brick. To get them unstuck and loose I really had to work at them using chopsticks and tongs to get them loosened when I added the liquid sauce ingredients. It was not easy to get them loosened up. So I experimented the next time I made them with hot/boiling water first. You can use very hot or boiled water, rinsing them in a bowl / colander. I used my fingers/chopsticks/tongs to get them as unstuck as possible. Then rinsed them in cold water and drained them. That worked better to prep them before adding them to your dish so suggest you try this.

You can of course also use these noodles in any stir fried dish of your own choosing. Some other ideas for toppings would be some grilled pork (Cha Siu?), grilled shrimp, or even just a fried egg on top with some Gojujang. I would say these wheat noodles are basically the same as Japanese “Udon” – so you could use them in Japanese cooking, say you could make “YAKIUDON“. I did a kind of YAKI UDON with these and it worked. The recipe on the box for “SESAME SCALLION NOODLES” worked fairly well when I made it. Another tip: The recipe on the box is for just one package so double or triple the recipe if you are making more than one otherwise you will not have enough sauce. The recipe on the box is a basic recipe that you can modify as you wish. I added a heaping tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter to it, to make it more “Thai”. I also used a little Bomba to spice it up. These noodles are handy and not bad at about a buck a portion, even if they don’t match up to fresh raw noodles you would find at an Asian grocery. One more thing I just thought of, you could say add these to Trader Joe’s GINGER MISO soup and come up with a noodle version of that! I really hope TJ’s keeps these around so check them out so they see they are selling!

I would buy these again.

VEGAN

My finished noodle dish with slivers of cucumber and scallions and topped with some slices of chicken. Very tasty!
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Trader Joe’s FLOR DE SAL Portuguese sea salt (great gift idea!)


(Update: These seem to have sold out very quickly!)

Trader Joe’s FLOR DE SAL, like French Fleur de Sel, is a naturally harvested sea salt. This is from Portugal. It has large grains, and is good for a “finishing salt”, something you can sprinkle a few grains on top just before serving, or leave the crock on the table as I am doing. When I saw these attractive crocks, which are only five bucks, I immediately thought, “Perfect Christmas Gift”!

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/portuguese-flor-de-sal-074632

– TRADER JOES SAYS: “Similar to its French equivalent, Fleur de Sel, Trader Joe’s Portuguese Flor de Sal is collected by hand, from a thin layer of salt crystals that form on the surface of the sea—it’s a gentle process, unlike traditional sea salt harvesting methods that use machines. The Salt crystals are small, delicate, and flaky— the name means salt flower in Portuguese. This Salt contains more moisture than traditional sea salt. It’s preserved in a ceramic crock and topped with a cork lid, which helps protect the crystals and keep them from drying out—it’s a terrific vessel that makes this salt tremendously giftable, and also offers countless re-use options once you’ve enjoyed the contents.”

TRADER JOE’S MEXICO “La Laja” Small Lot COFFEE


This stuff is my new favorite Trader Joe’s coffee! I saw it in the NEW PRODUCTS area. I tried it and found this to be a really excellent coffee It’s Mexican small lot, shade grown, 100% Arabica originating from the mountains of Huatusco, Mexico which seems to be between Vera Cruz and Puebla.

I found this to be a wonderful high quality coffee, and I thought it made an outstanding cup of brewed coffee. Now the package says this is a “medium roast” – however I would disagree and say it’s darker than a medium roast. I’ve found Trader Joe’s descriptions (light, medium, dark) really vary wildly from coffee to coffee and are inconsistent. To my eyes, this is a bit darker than “medium”. I would say its on the edge of being a (light) dark roast. Maybe about a “French Roast”? The beans are darkish and even slightly shiny. If you want a “medium” roast TJ’s Azmari Bunni is actually a medium roast or even a shade lighter. So let’s say this lovely Mexican coffee is roasted a little bit into the edge of a dark roast which actually seems perfect for these beans. The brewing method I used was making it in my Moka pot but this coffee will work for any kind of brewing method you prefer (drip, pour-over or even an espresso machine). This is a whole bean coffee of course so ideally of course you will grind up your beans at home just before brewing. In a pinch use the grinder at Trader Joe’s. When freshly ground you get an incredible aroma from these beans. It made a rich dark flavorful cup of Joe that I just loved. I find this coffee is delicious and excellent. I would buy it again gladly. In fact I may stock up a bit as these small lot coffees from Trader Joe’s can go bye-bye easily. TJ’s sells this for $9.99 for a 12 oz bag (whole bean. For this quality I’d say that’s not outrageous and a pretty fair price. PS I also experimented mixing this 50/50 with TJ’s BUUNI coffee, which is a medium roast, and together that was also quite excellent as a blend of a medium and darker roast, Middle American, South America and African coffees!

UPDATE (Dec 1 2022) : Sure enough a few weeks after writing this post, I can’t find any more bags of this coffee in either of my two nearby TJ’s (NYC) ! I really hope more comes in… Please leave a COMMENT if you see it in your local TJ’s (with location)

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