Trader Joe’s SQUIGGLY NOODLES


Here’s a NEW Trader Joe’s item: “Squiggly Knife Cut Style Noodles with Soy and Sesame Sauce”. This package of dried wheat noodles plus sauce looked promising. For one thing its a “Product of Taiwan”. First time, I made them the way they suggest on the package. Here’s the instructions: “Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Add noodles. Cook 4 minutes. Drain and add sauce packet”. This alone will not make a very tasty dish though. You should also add other things (protein and veggies) to make this into something tasty. Unfortunately we were disappointed with the noodles themselves. My wife’s comment was the noodles themselves just weren’t that good quality and tasted like a cheap noodle. Strike one. I did however give them a second chance. However this time I decided I would stir fry them. I cooked them 4 minutes, drained them, added a little oil so they wouldnt stick together. I tossed them in a wok with oil, ginger, garlic, sliced veggies and an egg, and stir fried them for a minute or two. They still weren’t great but we both thought they came out way better stir fried. So this is what I would recommend you do with these noodles. The sauce packet was made to be diluted so add a only half if you are using it and and taste as you go. The sauce isn’t good and frankly rather than using the (fake tasting) “Soy and Sesame” sauce packet I would suggest using some real soy sauce and toasted sesame oil, and maybe a little oyster sauce and chopped garlic of course, instead of using their crappy sauce pack. BTW the label lists Sodium in this at 40%, which is of course almost half of your daily recommended amount right there with one portion. Some packaged Asian foods have a fair amount of sodium, so you do check labels. All the sodium is in the sauce of course. $4.99 for 4 noodle packs. Basically I will give this a MEH. Fix it up and it can almost be good. Chopped scallions are a must.

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 KOREAN SWEET PANCAKES (Hotteok)


“A chewy-flaky dough filled with a lusciously gooey cinnamon filling”

Here’s one more Korean item Trader Joe’s added in 2022; “SWEET CINNAMON FILLED KOREAN PANCAKES” known in Korean as “HOTTEOK“. In Seoul, they’re a common snack sold from stalls in the street. People really enjoy eating them on a cold winter day. Trader Joe’s has come up with a frozen version which all you need to to do is heat up in a pan and enjoy. I cooked them as recommended in a pan on the stove with no added oil, until they were golden brown and delicious. They look really good as you can see. I found them to be quite tasty. They were flaky and had a nice filling with cinnamon and brown sugar. I thought there might be some red bean paste in there but but reading the package I can see theres some sweet potato in the filling. So while I enjoyed these I’ve never tasted a real one and my wife (who’s Korean) on the other hand told me they were just so-so and not at all as good as ones you would get at some street stall in Seoul made by the Hotteok lady vendors. I don’t doubt that but at $4.50 for a package (of 4 pancakes) these are at least a lot easier and cheaper than booking a flight to Seoul. These might even make you want to go get some real ones some day in person. I know I would watching the lady make them in video below.

Trader Joe’s and folks on the internet suggest putting ice cream inside them. I didn’t try it but imagine it would be good. Again my wife, poo-poo’ed this saying that’s not authentic. I say try these yourself and decide. They make a slightly unusual and interesting dessert or snack. And if you’re ambitious enough to want to try to make them yourself, here’s a recipe…. and a TIP: eat them carefully, the inside is lava HOT so let them cool slightly!

Trader Joe’s site has a “Limited” sign on the picture so I expect these may not last forever. If you want to try them, do sooner rather than later.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/sweet-cinnamon-filled-korean-pancakes-069665

“When strolling through the streets of Seoul on a still, chilly morning, among the many sights to see, you may encounter the scent of fresh hotteok being served straight from the grills and fry pans of street vendors….”

They are interesting to watch getting made…. I bet they are really good. They are huge too.

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 BLACK TEA and BOBA NON-DAIRY FROZEN DESSERT


Trader Joe’s seems to have a little thing for “Boba tea” and this is another incarnation of Boba Tea, in a frozen (non-dairy) dessert. Made with coconut milk this has small chewy tapioca pearls (boba) with swirls of brown sugar. More or less like the trendy “Bubble Tea” drink that has become popular recently in the U.S. This frozen dessert tastes like black tea with brown sugar with chewy black pearls of tapioca. Overall I would say I found this OK and interesting. It’s good but I am not crazy for it. However my wife (who’s Asian) liked this very much. She likes Asian style desserts. I said “this is good but I’d probably rather have a bowl of Coffee Bean Blast ice cream”. OK this is not a fair comparison, as this is not ice cream of course, its a non-dairy frozen dessert . So I will say “interesting”. If you want something a little different and want Non-Dairy and love tea, you might give this a try. It improved and tasted better after letting it sit out to defrost a little bit for the tapioca pearls to get softer. So give this about 5 minutes at room temp before eating. About $5 for a pint. We are divided in that I would not buy this again but my wife would, so a its a toss up in our house!

PRODUCT OF THAILAND

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC SOY BEVERAGE (SOY MILK)


Trader Joe’s Unsweetened ORGANIC SOY BEVERAGE (aka Soy Milk). This is one of about 3 non-dairy milks (Soy, Oat, Almond) I buy at Trader Joe’s on a regular basis, switching them up as the mood strikes me. I like this soy milk, its pretty good for the commercial soy milk one can buy in a grocery store (My favorite soy milk is the kind I can get fresh in Chinatown, especially from 46 Mott Street for one … and if you ever go there also try the soft tofu pudding with syrup). I would say this Trader Joe’s Soy Beverage is comparable to major brands. One thing I like about this one compared to some others is this one has only two ingredients in it – water and organic soybeans whereas some other soy milks have a number of extra ingredients like guar gum to give it a silky texture (ie, “SILK” brand). In our fridge, we usually have a container of this or TJ’s oat milk or almond milk, all of which are staples. Trader Joe’s Certified Organic Soy Beverage sells for $1.99 for 1 quart (32 oz) and comes in a shelf stable Tetra pack which is convenient as you can keep a few in the pantry.

VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE, LACTOSE FREE, DAIRY FREE, 9 GRAM PROTEIN PER SERVING

Trader Joe’s DRIED ORANGE SLICES


Trader Joe’s Sweetened Dried Orange Slices

“Exactly what the name implies. Very sweet orange slices which are full of wonderful citrus flavor. You can eat the whole slice, rind and all.”

Personally I think these are a terrific little snack with an old world taste and esthetic. I just love these. They are whole slices of orange including the rind and the peel (but no pits) which are sweetened and dried to be slightly chewy. They have a wonderfully intense orange flavor which includes a slightest bitterness from the peel. These are so good I could eat the whole package at once but I usually stop myself at around 3 slices. OK maybe 4. They’re $1.99 a package which is just over 5 oz. “Product of Thailand”.

Trader Joe’s Organic Maple Syrup Vinaigrette (Fall Item)


FALL SEASONAL ITEM

This was a “Meh” for me. Just wasn’t too crazy for this vinaigrette which was one of those “sounded better than it tasted” items for me. Two tasters in our house didn’t go for this dressing and didn’t like it. I found the maple taste off putting and didn’t work at all. As opposed to honey which I like in a salad dressing. Frankly I can easily make a very good Vinaigrette myself in about 3 minutes using with oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard (optional, crushed garlic). Put these in a glass jar and shake shake shake. Frankly we prefer my Homemade Vinaigrette way over any dressing I can buy generally. However what I do think is worth buying at Trader Joe’s is their Asian Sesame Dressing which is excellent. TOASTED SESAME SALAD DRESSING. We just love that one so much. That is worth the same price as this one, $3.49. This one for us at least was a miss and a “meh”.

This was a “Meh” for me. Just wasn’t too crazy for this vinaigrette which was one of those “sounded better than it tasted” items for me. Two tasters in our house didn’t go for this dressing and didn’t like it. I found the maple taste off putting and didn’t work at all. As opposed to honey which I like in a salad dressing. Frankly I can easily make a very good Vinaigrette myself in about 3 minutes using with oil, vinegar and Dijon mustard (optional, crushed garlic). Put these in a glass jar and shake shake shake. Frankly we prefer my Homemade Vinaigrette way over any dressing I can buy generally. However what I do think is worth buying at Trader Joe’s is their Asian Sesame Dressing which is excellent. TOASTED SESAME SALAD DRESSING. We just love that one so much. That is worth the same price as this one, $3.49. This one for us at least was a miss and a “meh”. I won’t buy this again.

EASY BASIC VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

Trader Joe’s CHICKEN CILANTRO MINI WONTONS


Trader Joe’s CHICKEN CILANTRO MINI WONTONS

You could easily describe me as a dumpling fanatic. I’m fortunate to live in a city (NYC) with a huge Asian population and can get really excellent dumplings, such as at “Vanessa’s Dumpling House” to name just one place. So having said that, while I can’t honestly say these Trader Joe’s mini wontons compare to to really good handmade chicken and basil dumplings I can get at a place like Vanessa’s, or Shiu Jiao Fu Zhou dumpling house, these are decent little wontons, and they are certainly convenient. So if you can’t go buy a big bag of frozen dumplings from Vanessa‘s or another Chinese dumpling maker as will I do on occasion, these may be the next best thing as they are so easy to buy at TJ’s. They seem popular and I usually see a few people grabbing a bag. On the web, I know there is some hack with these dumplings cooked in TJ’s Miso Ginger broth, which I tried and is pretty good – but for me that broth needs more miso and way more ginger! These are mini wontons and are smaller than regular wontons or dumplings. These are just one bite each. They’re good made by either boiling or pan frying them.

If boiled, I like them in a strong chicken broth (preferably homemade) or possibly one of Trader Joe’s broths or the Ginger Miso Broth (I would add more miso if you have that and some fresh grated ginger) They are good also cooked up as pan fried wontons. These will taste much better with a good dumping sauce. For me, that is mandatory. Also the cilantro flavor in the dumplings is weak so I recommend adding a good handful of chopped cilantro just before serving. Some people hate the cilantro’s flavor but I love it and it’s a very essential Asian taste. These Mini Wontons are $3.49 for a package (12 oz). I would buy these again.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/chicken-cilantro-mini-wontons-099085

Trader Joe’s BOBA TEA Kit (Brown Sugar Tapioca Pearls Drink)


If you are not familiar with BOBA TEA (aka bubble tea) it’s a popular (very TRENDY) drink that has very large pearls of Tapioca that sink to the bottom. The tapioca pearls have a very chewy texture that most people really enjoy. The pearls are so large that to suck them up it comes with a special ultra wide straw. These drinks are sold by specialty tea shops like “GONG CHA” that serve up a premium (and a bit pricey) Boba Tea Drink.

Trader Joe’s BOBA TEA kit is a (poor) approximation of what you might get from a specialty Boba Tea shop. I have had Boba Tea from quite a few different Tea shops and in short, Trader Joe’s Boba Tea Kit won’t put any of them out of business. The drink you get in a real Boba Tea shop is way better than this, however if you’ve never had it before this may give you an idea of what “boba tea” is. As my wife commented “this is a Trader Joe’s version”. She meant it as a knock as in “cheap knockoff of the real thing”. A specialty shop boba tea drink usually costs about $5-6 bucks each. This kit sells for $5.50 for 4 drinks. So yes a cheap knock off. Granted, its a high profit item (sugar, tea, tapioca)

Anyway if you can’t have it at one of these shops and just want to try boba tea in that case then his might be a good starting point. For one thing the tapioca pearls in Trader Joe’s are much smaller than the ones that the shops make which are huge and so chewy. This kit has 4 pouches of a concentrate with the pearls. You mix this package up with milk or tea (or combo of the two) plus a handful of ice to dilute its sweetness, and you need to add enough of these things in, otherwise it will be way too sweet. I put the defrosted pouch into a glass jar with a lid so I could really shake it up with the added ice and liquid. The kit even has 4 big straws. Not bad, but again really no comparison to a Boba Tea shop drink. I probably wouldn’t buy it again.

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