Trader Joe’s KIMCHI


Trader Joe’s KIMCHI (Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage)

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

I love kimchi. OK I’m a bit picky about it too. I want the good stuff, meaning something someone who is Korean would say “that’s good kimchi”. As someone who has Korean in-laws, and adores Korean cuisine, I have eaten a good deal of different – and excellent – varieties of Kimchi so I can really taste whats good Kimchi from “just OK”. Kimchi is tricky. It’s a very specific preparation and Korean taste. It’s probably best made by a Korean grandma. For commercially made Kimchi to be good, they must get everything right in manufacturing it in bulk. It’s tricky to sell as you have to rotate stock. It can build up pressure as it sits on the shelves too long (I have had a brand called Mother In Laws Kimchi almost explode on opening like a shook up Coke)!

Historically Trader Joe’s has tried their hand at selling Kimchi in their stores a few times and in different packages. Over the last few years, I would see Kimchi at TJ’s and eventually it seemed to go away(?) Either they discontinued it for a spell or maybe they were finding other vendors and changing the packaging, or all of the above. Before TJ’s current version sold in this red plastic jar, they carried kimchi in a soft plastic bag (see link) as well as a glass jar.

Frankly I have never been super impressed when I tried TJ’s Kimchi usually saying “not bad, it’s OK”.

So my short review of of TJ’s latest kimchi is still “it’s OK”. It’s not great but it’s decent. I think this one is better than the ones they sold previously? I have to be honest that it’s better than no Kimchi, if you can’t easily find kimchi where you live. I’m glad TJ at least is trying with Kimchi and Korean foods in general. 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. I have a Korean owned fruit and veg store near where they sell kimchi which is quite decent.

So on the plus side this Trader Joe’s Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage Kimchi does have that tangy kimchi fermented taste (from lactic acid, interestingly which is listed on the label as an ingredient?) It says “spicy” but I don’t find it terribly spicy though I imagine this is a personal opinion. So to sum up if you can’t get Kimchi anywhere else this is one is “not bad”, its fairly decent (though my wife says otherwise). 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 Korean kimchi vendor. Until then we can at least make do with this.

And definitely try making some kimchi fried rice! That will turn out well as cooked kimchi mellows out and adds great flavors.

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

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)

And especially KIMCHI FRIED RICE. Or BIBIMBAP.

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 improve more and more being just amazing in two weeks as it ferments in the fridge. Seriously, if you want good kimchi, you will be surprised that you can make really good stuff on you own! Thanks Aaron & Claire for a super recipe.

You can find Sesame Oil at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find Korean GOCHUJANG (chili paste) easily where you live, you can at least find it on AMAZON : https://amzn.to/3lf7IYg

As well as Korean Red Pepper Flakes (Gochugaru) – needed for making kimchi

https://amzn.to/2UYxh5p

Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing


This is one of those “only at Trader Joe’s” products, or at least I’ve never seen another type of product like this one.

I’ll start by saying one could say I am a little bit of a “Sriracha freak”. I mean I love the stuff, and in general I love “the Spicy” but in no way would I deem myself to be one of those chile-head types who go for sauces with “Death Head” logos on the label.  No thanks.

Me, I want a balance of heat AND flavor. Therefore I love – and I mean LOVE – the original Huy Fong Foods SRIRACHA sauce, which is one of the greatest food products on the planet. Its a product who’s fan’s are legion. I will put it on lots of different things. Still I never tried it on SALAD. So guess what? Sriracha Salad Dressing is actually a terrific idea! And Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing  is a terrifically marvelous unique product.

Its a ranch-style salad dressing, which is very spicy. How spicy? Well in its original version, which Trader Joe’s has changed and toned down since I first tasted it, I would have to use this stuff sparingly, as mere dollops. It was actually far, far spicier than actual Sriracha or most hot sauces for that matter. I used to mix it with some yogurt or mayo to tone it down a wee bit, but that is no longer the case. I’m talking about when it originally came out – a year ago? Can others please confirm this change to tone down the heat? I have a feeling people complained it was just too spicy, and they reformulated it with much less of a heat level. Anyway I just bought a bottle and it doesn’t seem nearly as spicy as it used to be, though it is still spicy, and still very good! Not only is  this ranch dressing good on salad or greens of course but it has many, many more uses on all kinds of foods. You can put a little on the side as a sauce for most anything, for instance grilled chicken, or shrimp, or fish, or grilled tofu, or what have you.

In fact you can use this as an ingredient to cook with it. For instance, try brushing this stuff on chicken which you would bake, broil, or grill. Its awesome on hamburgers, mixed with some ketchup for some homemade spicy “special sauce”. Try a little on some asian style noodles… with some chunky organic peanut butter on top? In fact try this on just about anything you think might be better with some spice to it. You will come up with some interesting tests.

So congratulations on a fantastic product, Trader Joe’s. Some chile-heads might be disappointed that you toned down the heat a bit for mere mortals. (But folks, you can mix some Sriracha sauce with this, if you want it spicier still, or add some cayenne pepper and it will be like it used to be). It sells for $2.99 (16 oz. bottle) which is not bad since most TJ salad dressings are 8 oz bottles?

So try this, its one of those love it or hate it type TJ products! Do I love it? Yes, yes, yes!

I’m giving this product a:

RAVE

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By the way, the story of HUY FONG FOODS SRIRACHA and it’s founder Vietnamese refugee David Tran, is one of the best American immigrant success stories there is!

ADDITIONAL LINKS

http://nextshark.com/sriracha-hot-sauce-david-tran-vietnamese/

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/14-things-you-didnt-know-about-sriracha-including-its-proper-pronunciation

https://www.pri.org/stories/2013-10-22/story-how-one-hot-sauce-huy-fong-sriracha-got-so-hot

UPDATE: AUG 2020 – Reported as Discontinued, during Covid-19!!!