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.

Trader Joe’s SALSA DE CACAHUATE


“A Southern Mexican inspired salsa made with guajillo chiles and peanuts”

“A peanut based salsa with a unique mix of creaminess, nuttiness and peppery heat. Versatile. Enhances food from burritos to shrimp.”

(summer 2022) New Product – SALSA DE CACAHUATE. I found this to be just terrific, pretty much a “wow” new Trader Joe’s product.

This is bit of an unusual and atypical (regional) salsa (for us at least in the US) which originates from Southern Mexico. It’s a peanut-based salsa. Cacahuate is “peanut” in Spanish, based on the Nahuatl word (you pronounce it : kaka-wa-te). I found this new salsa to be really, really good. It’s unusual compared to more typical tomato based salsa’s at Trader Joe’s due to fact it’s peanut based and creamy. The salsa has a huge depth of flavor. It’s definitely got a kick (med. hot spicy!) and its thick and creamy. Be sure to stir it. This salsa was really tasty on some tortilla chips. It was also delicious with some spinach and cheese quesadillas I made. But it is not “just for Mexican food”. This can be great with lots of things. This can be a great sauce or ingredient for many kinds of foods as Trader Joe’s suggests. For one thing, great with chicken. It is fabulous on chicken, say grilled chicken breasts or thighs. Pork too, it was delicious on some TJ’s CARNITAS cooked into “slices of pork loin”. I also like the idea of trying it with shrimp as TJ’s suggests. It would even be great with TOFU. I will experiment with this, and you should too. It’s excellent! Definitely worth trying. Trader Joe’s indicates this is a summer / seasonal item so if this sounds interesting I would not wait too long to grab a jar to try out (or two). $2.99 for a 12 oz jar.

“If you’ve ever sampled the cuisine of southern Mexico, you’ve likely come across a version of salsa de cacahuate, a savory, often spicy, peanut-based sauce that’s used on a remarkably wide range of dishes, from street tacos to roast chicken to grilled shrimp, and more. Etymologically derived from a Nahuatl word for peanut, salsa de cacahuate has a unique mix of creaminess, nuttiness, and peppery heat that makes it an uncommonly versatile condiment—just the kind of sauce that cries out to be put on everything.

In tribute to this southern Mexican staple, we’re proudly offering Trader Joe’s Salsa de Cacahuate for the summer. And just like the namesake sauce that inspired it, this rich and flavorful jarred Salsa is almost endlessly versatile. Aside from enjoying as a dip with your favorite tortilla chip, you can use it to enhance everything from burritos to burgers to breakfast fare. It adds an extraordinary depth of flavor when served over salmon, steak, or stuffed peppers, and brings out the best of a sizzling plate of fajitas. For a true treat, try spooning it generously over a plate of sliced pork loin.”

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/salsa-de-cacahuate-073992

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC SRIRACHA & ROASTED GARLIC BBQ SAUCE


Trader Joe’s Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

“It’s the new ‘IT’ thing in BBQ sauce. You’re welcome”

It’s exactly as described on the label, “It’s got tang, it’s got heat, it has garlic and it has sweet.”

There is a little heat in this tomato based Organic BBQ sauce and for me the level is just right as well as the the little sweetness balancing out the heat. It’s spicyness would be from the organic red jalapeno pepper puree they use, and the Sweet would be from organic molasses. It has a little bit of hickory smoke flavor but not too much. Reading the label you see things like allspice, clove and habanero. So some complex flavors going on there. To me, everything is perfectly balanced to make a very tangy, tasty BBQ sauce. I really love this stuff. I think this is absolutely perfect for grilled chicken – or grilled tofu for that matter. Put it on at the end for a glaze. It was perfect to make the Pulled Jackfruit Sliders on Aloha Buns (see link below for recipe)

Trader Joe’s Sriracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

$2.99 (19.5 oz bottle)

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/pulled-jackfruit-sandwich

Trader Joe’s CHEDDAR CHEESE WITH SCOTCH BONNET PEPPERS


Trader Joe’s CHEDDAR CHEESE WITH SCOTCH BONNET PEPPERS AND SWEET RED PEPPERS

The name may lead you to think this cheese is going to be really spicy. It’s not, it’s mildly spicy with sweet red peppers mixed with some scotch bonnet peppers which balance out to “Sweet With Heat” as the label says. I found this cheese to be really tasty. I would buy it again. $8.99/lb

Trader Joe’s “Tteok Bok Ki” KOREAN SPICY RICE CAKES


“This dish, a mainstay of Korean street food, begins with cylinders of tender, chewy rice cakes (think mochi or gnocchi) cooked in a spicy-umami, savory and sweet sauce….”

(update summer 2022: its been MIA for awhile (NYC)

I confess when I saw these for the first time in the frozen Asian food section at Trader Joe’s recently I got pretty excited. Because Tteok Bok Ki is a Korean dish that I am pretty crazy about and have eaten plenty of. In case you’re not familiar with it already, Korean “Tteok Bok Ki” (pronounced Tok Boke Kee) is a hugely popular typically Korean dish, comprised of consisting of soft, super chewy rice cakes in a tube shape that are cooked in an addictive spicy, sweet red sauce of Gochugang (Korean red pepper paste), brown sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds plus other seasonings and it has lots of Umami. So of course I had to try Trader Joe’s version, which says “Product of Korea” on the package. Having now tried it while I can’t say of course that it’s the best I ever had still it’s fairly good and tasty enough to recommend you give it a try. We had it for dinner and really enjoyed it, especially as I fixed it up a bit with a few ingredients (see below). Inside the package are two bags, one containing white rice cakes and bag of sauce which the instructions tell you to thin with a cup of water. I made them in the “Traditional Preparation” style written on the package. I don’t see the point of making the “crispy” style as they will be covered with sauce and not crispy after that.

TIPS: I found that the recommended 1 cup of water they state seems like too much. The sauce came out a little thin and this sauce should be pretty thick, to really coat the rice cakes. So the next time I make these I’ll reduce the water to 3/4 or even 1/2 cup for a thicker sauce. You can always add a few tablespoons of water if too thick. Also be sure to stir quite a bit as it cooks, as this also thickens the sauce from starch released by the rice cakes.

Another TIP: To make it more authentic I added a some things and suggest you should too. At the very least add a few hard boiled eggs which is the way it’s typically served in Korea. Add the eggs into the sauce so they cook for about 5 minutes in the sauce to get a bit imbued with it (cut them in half when you serve). Also, in Korea the dish might have thin “fish cakes” in it. If you have an H-Mart near you, you can get these type of thin fish cakes or other add-ins. As I didn’t have any, I improvised with something I had in the fridge which was some TJ “Baked Tofu”. That kind of worked for texture and another element plus additional protein. I sliced the tofu thinly in the style of those aforementioned fish cakes. I also threw in a bit of fresh cilantro (Pak Chi) and that worked well too for flavor and color. I gave them a little drizzle of Sesame Oil just before serving. Chopped scallions are very typical as well so add some. If you happen to have a box of Gochugang in the fridge, adding in a tablespoon or two during cooking couldn’t hurt for maximum authentic Korean flavors.

The final dish turned out quite tasty and made a nice dinner for two of us along with some good Kimchi – or just make a salad. It was not very spicy. If you add a few things (even just a few hard boiled eggs and chopped scallions) it turns this basic package from a side dish into a lunch or dinner. The TJ package goes for only $3.79 (1 lb). If you get Tteok Bok Ki in a Korean restaurant it could easily cost triple that price, though of course the one you get at a restaurant is likely be better. However if you fix this up a wee bit this can turn out pretty decent. So given how convenient this frozen TJ version is, I will surely buy this again (update: we have already) It’s a real treat of Korean textures and flavors. In future I may get those fish cakes at H-Mart which are optional but will really make this into a more authentic Tteok Bok Ki. I love that Trader Joe’s is carrying more and more Korean foods. Now if Trader Joe’s could only improve their source of the mediocre meh KIMCHI they carry (sigh, its better than nothing). H-Mart has great Kimchi. Just sayin’!

AS-IS the package is GLUTEN FREE and VEGAN.

Optional TJ list for shopping: eggs, cilantro, scallions, toasted sesame oil, baked tofu…

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/tteok-bok-ki-071551

Trader Joe’s GUAJILLO SALSA


Trader Joe’s GUAJILLO SALSA – “A spicy and flavorful salsa with smokey undertones”

This description on the label is right on the money.

I really liked this new GUAJILLO SALSA offering Trader Joe’s came up with, it’s truly an excellent jarred salsa. In fact this may be among TJ’s best salsas of the many they offer. Trying it for the first time I found it was full of complex flavors, spicy, a bit smokey, a bit acidic… just really interesting and delicious. It will spike up all your taste buds. TJ’s usually puts some kind of heat level indicator graph on the salsa’s, however this jar doesn’t have one. So just a heads up this is not “mild”, it’s got a nice little kick to it, I would say medium spicy, however not blow your head off spicy. So imagine a chile graph of “medium”.

Ingredients in this salsa include: tomatoes in juice, tomato paste, guajillo chile pepper purée, vinegar, salt, crushed red pepper, dried garlic, and both guajillo chile powder and chipotle chile powder. All those nice chiles give this a big authentic flavor. Stir before using or shake well, as this has no thickeners added so it’s a bit loose and chunky in a typical Mexican salsa style (unlike some American made salsa brands that are artificially thickened with starch so they stick on a chip and do not drip easily). Even not being thickend, just dip a chip in a little bit of this and I promise you will get it’s flavor.

Use this anywhere you would use your favorite salsa or hot sauce, and be creative. I drizzled some over some simply grilled chicken. This guajillo salsa added a bunch of terrific flavors that went great with the chicken to jazz it up nicely. Drizzle it over Mexican rice, refried beans, tacos, eggs, you name it. Ground turkey tacos? Boring no more. I also just chopped up some fresh ripe tomatoes and mixed in a few tablespoons of this salsa to them to come up with a “salsa fresca” variation which was very tasty. I really like this salsa and if you are a fan of salsa you will likely too. Its way more interesting than the rather plain Jane TJ Hatch Valley Salsa (however I bet if you mixed the two they might be good blended for some red and green salsa flavors). In sum, TJ’s GUAJILLO SALSA is delicious and well worth trying. A 12 oz jar was $2.69. Would I buy it again? Yes. This is something I now like to have in the fridge at all times.

SHAKE OR STIR BEFORE USING. REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING.

Trader Joe’s Green & Red HATCH CHILE flakes


RAVE

Trader Joe’s introduced a fantastic seasoning, these Dried Green and Red Hatch Chile Flakes. This stuff is terrific. Now from what I understand in New Mexico, “Hatch Chiles”, named after the Hatch Valley where they are grown, are to be found everywhere in both fresh and dried form (with strings of dried ones called “ristras” hanging outside houses). Hatch Chiles are consumed in quantity by all New Mexicans, the only thing being if you are a “green or red” person. Hatch Chiles seem to be something Trader Joe’s has some interest in. They have a Hatch Valley Salsa and have always had those little cans of fire roasted chiles (terrific for the pantry BTW). Last summer I recall seeing bags of fresh Hatch Chiles which really surprised me as in NYC seeing fresh Hatch Chiles is so rare I think one might only find that at a Super Gourmet grocer. Those TJ fresh Hatch Chiles I saw might have been a one-off deal as I haven’t seen them since. I am guessing TJ’s decided it’s more practical to sell Hatch Chiles like this in a dried crushed form.

These HATCH CHILE FLAKES are yet one more great addition to TJ’s excellent line of spices. The bottle of dried flaked chiles contains both red AND green chiles to accommodate all comers. These dried chilies are not very spicy and add a wonderful flavor. HOW TO USE: Add these chile flakes to any ground meat, burgers (beef, ground turkey, or ground chicken) or even Impossible burgers, or to tacos, stews, tomato based dishes, pasta, pizza, cheese dishes… Add to marinades and sauces… use the flakes to marinate chicken or meats (or tofu for that matter) in a marinade. Sprinkle this on eggs or on avocados or Avo-Toast.

The 1.9 oz jar is $3.99. A little expensive for a bottle of spice, but you can use a teaspoon and get a lot of flavor – not to mention you don’t have to go all the way to Santa Fe to get your fix of Hatch Chiles and the flavors of New Mexico. If this sounds interesting I would grab a bottle as who knows if this product will be around forever or it’s a one off like those Trader Joe bags of fresh Hatch chiles I saw once. I am stocking up with a few of these.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/green-and-red-hatch-chile-flakes-070397

TRADER JOE’S says: “It’s hard to overstate the importance of red and green chiles to New Mexican cuisine — there’s an argument to be made that red and green chiles are, in fact, the foundation of New Mexican cuisine. After all, New Mexico’s state question (apparently, there are such things as state questions), “red or green?”, is a direct reference to their ubiquity in restaurant settings. In honor of these chiles’ special place in Southwestern cooking, we’re proudly introducing Trader Joe’s Green & Red Hatch Chile Flakes to our shelves, so that their spicy, singularly New Mexican flavor can be enjoyed at home in dishes of all kinds — no matter which state your home happens to be in.

Of course, these aren’t just any chiles: these are dried Hatch Chiles, from New Mexico’s renowned Hatch Valley. Widely praised for their unique, savory taste (some detect notes of onion or garlic in their flavor profile), these Green & Red Hatch Chiles are especially great for adding heat and depth to taco meat, enchilada sauces, chilis, or stews. And since each jar contains both Red and Green Flakes, you get the benefits of each: both the round, slightly sweeter flavor of the more ripened Red, and the sharper, more vegetal flavor of the younger Green. Try folding them into your next burger for a nice, peppery kick.”

TJ’s Sweet & Spicy Pickle Chips & Onions


Thin slices of pickles and onions in a sweet and spicy brine. Emphasis on spicy. You have to try these, they are just terrific.

Now when Trader Joe’s calls these “spicy” on the label, in this case they are not kidding! They are quite hot and seriously SPICY! Containing “capsicum oleoresin”. However they are Spicy Delicious. With a hamburger these were particularly terrific. For me these pickles are just one more amazing TJ Wow Product, something that’s unique and special. I’m even a bit addicted and once I start eating them I keep going back for more. While they are Seriously Spicy if you just eat them their own, when you add them as as ingredient and eat them say on top of a hamburger or tucked into a sandwich, you will get a moderated amount of the heat. These are about $2.70 a jar.

TJ’s PERI-PERI SAUCE


Trader Joe’s PERI-PERI SAUCE with fermented and dried chilies

RAVE

This is as the label says: “A CONDIMENT WITH RICH, COMPLEX HEAT”. Peri-peri sauce is one of those Trader Joe’s products that currently seems to be all over the Internet. So naturally I decided I better check it out. First thing to let you know, is that this Peri-Peri sauce is HOT! And when I say hot I mean it. It’s hot people, with a capital H! As in this is surely the spiciest product I’ve ever tasted at Trader Joe’s. It reminded me of the first time I tasted TJ’s (original formula, and sadly discontinued) Organic SRIRACHA RANCH dressing (sigh!). I opened the bottle of this Peri-peri sauce and just tasted a wee bit on a teaspoon all by itself. OMG. My mouth lit up, taste buds on fire. I’m not a chili-head but I enjoy “spicy” and can tolerate most levels of heat. However this Peri-peri was way up there. It took a while for my mouth to calm down and I thought, this sauce is too spicy. However I found the “secret” to using Peri-peri, is to just use it really sparingly. Use it in small even tiny amounts and you will get it’s flavor. Note, it’s quite liquid-y so be careful pouring it lest you get way more than you want. I usually put some on a spoon to gently dole it out in little dots of sauce. Once I realized about using in sparingly I started to really love this stuff. It’s very flavorful and complex with a ton of umami going on in addition to being spicy. The orginal bottle which I expected would last me a few months is already 2/3 gone in just a few weeks! So Peri-Peri may even be addictive. This label says Product of South Africa. Peri-Peri sauce is popular in South Africa, though it’s origins are from elsewhere in Africa, Mozambique or going even back going back to Portugal.

https://www.nandosperiperi.com/what-is-peri-peri

Peri-peri recipes traditionally call for tiny birds eye chilies which are super spicy. The label does not specify exactly what chilies are in it but it does say “fermented” as well as dried chilies. As TJ’s BOMBA SAUCE also uses fermented chilies, from which you get a lot more complex flavors than just “hot”. It also lists garlic,salt, dried chilies and xanthan gum (it’s a thickener). It’s a lovely orange color. The first ingredient listed on the label interestingly enough is LEMON JUICE. So there is a citrus-y background level behind the spiciness which I find works perfectly.

What is PERI-PERI SAYCE good on? Perhaps a better question is what haven’t I tried this on. I’ve tried it on almost everything. For one, a simple thing, I love this sauce on something as simple as cottage cheese (on toast or a bagel or crackers…) Again I just need a few dots of sauce here and there. It’s simply magnificent with chicken, which is what it was created for (Peri-peri chicken). I will next try it on chicken breasts marinated in the sauce. So marinate some white or dark meat chicken in Peri-Peri sauce. You’ll find its just stunning. Use oil in the marinade too of course and go easy on the peri-peri till you learn its heat level, though cooking will of course mellow the heat out. I’ve mixed a little of the peri-peri even into ketchup – that spicy ketchup combo is fantastic with hamburgers. A bit on grilled shrimp or fish? Yes, yes, yes. If you experiment with this (and go cautiously) you will come up with great combinations this sauce is good on. Oh and you can of course mix it with something, say mayonnaise or greek yogurt in whatever ratio you like and come up with a fantastic sauce in seconds. Trader Joe’s PERI-PERI sauce comes in a glass bottle of about 7 ounces for $3.29. I think this is really worth checking out. And check out this recipe for grilled Peri-Peri Chicken below which you could whip up using this I think.

https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/recipes/peri-peri-chicken/

Want to learn about the peri-peri (piri-piri) chili ?

https://hotsaucefever.com/hot-peppers/piri-piri/

(update: summer 2022: unfortunately this seems to be MIA…. production issue? or discontinued ? I’ll update here if I see it again)

UPDATE: Jun 2022 SAW IT BACK IN STORE!!

Trader Joe’s GREEN DRAGON HOT SAUCE


RAVE

Trader Joe’s as you know carries a whole bunch of condiments and sauces, many being outstanding. It has quite a few hot sauces, most of which are VERY good. TJ’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce is one of my favorite Trader Joe’s items, along with Bomba and Peri-Peri and of course ZHOUG).

Now I would easily say Trader Joe’s GREEN DRAGON is a fantastic hot sauce and if you Google it, you’ll find it has many, many fans. GREEN DRAGON has far more fans than the TJ’s Sriracha (which while not bad is nowhere the equal of the original classic Huy Fong Sriracha {red rooster label) IMHO.

Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce‘s ingredients include: jalapeño, tomatillo, garlic, cilantro, vinegar, garlic, lime juice and habanero. It is spicy of course but not blow the roof of your mouth off spicy. This stuff has a lot of lovely flavors going on, it’s not simply “hot”With the above ingredients naturally Green Dragon can be viewed as a type of classic Mexican/South American style salsa. But it works with all kinds of cuisines and foods in particular I find Asian or Asian style food. When I’m making many Chinese or other Asian dishes I tend to use Green Dragon a good deal. Its very floral as it is made from fresh green chiles, herbs and aromatics. Used judiciously this sauce adds flavor to all kinds of dishes with a hint of spiciness. A few drops can go a long way in the flavor department, so you can use it a bit sparingly (unless you love heat, in which case use more of course!) For example a splash of this when you are making eggs, either in scrambled eggs, or on top of fried eggs… It’s great with egg dishes. I even put a few drops on something “boring” like cottage cheese (no really, try this combo on a toasted bagel – or on crackers which I have above) Cottage cheese with some GDS is boring no more. Toast up a bagel, top with cottage cheese, dot with Green Dragon; Thats one yummy breakfast. AVOCADO TOAST? YES! See below for a mini-recipe.

I just put some GDS in a lentil soup I had made and found it was perfect for that too, it added just that little bit of something extra that the soup needed. It is easy and fun to experiment with Green Dragon. Once you start trying it on different things, you will also discover, “umm, that works with this too”. Green Dragon sauce is one of my “always got to have in the fridge” TJ items! I never am without it and I keeps one in the pantry too, as I never want to come up empty. It’s a steal for $3.29 a bottle (18 ounces). In another Gourmet type store, something like this would be six bucks no doubt.

Avocado Toast: mash a ripe avocado up with salt, pepper, a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice then add Green Dragon to taste. Spread the avocado mixture on lightly buttered sourdough toast, a sliced brioche, a bagel, or any of your favorite toast. This is really yummy. Side note – add some into your guacamole, of course that’s also a fantastic match).

Previous Older Entries