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/

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 POTATO GNOCCHI (recipe ideas)


TJ’s Pasta Emporium Gnocchi. Made in Italy. “Autentico Italiano”. Shelf stable package.

These are one of my favorite TJ items. Available in the dried pasta section these packages of TJ’s POTATO GNOCCHI are a bargain at just $1.69 a pack (For 1.1 lbs 500 grams). These are shelf stable packages, which can last months at room temperature in your pantry (you could store them in your fridge if you like but you don’t have to). I probably usually use them within about 3 months. They have a pleasantly chewy gnocchi texture.

COOKING: You can simply toss these into boiling salted water for about 3 minutes and they’ ready to serve with your favorite sauce. Or you can use them in a recipe.

Even better I’ve found is boil them for maybe 1 minute and then drain and throw them in a non-stick or cast iron pan with 2 tablespoons of EVOO then pan fry them until they are brown. The crispy texture is a big plus. Actually an even easier way which I discovered, and clearly others have figured out, is you don’t have to boil them at all. You can just pan fry them immediately without boiling. The chewy, crispy texture when you pan fry gnocchi is even better.

PAN FRIED GNOCCHI: Just toss these gnocchi right into a pan with 1-2 tbl. of oil and pan fry them until browned on all sides, stirring occasionally. I do a variation on this. I put 2 tbls of EVOO (or even nicer, a mix of half oil and half butter) in a black cast iron (or nonstick pan). Get the oil hot on med heat until it shimmers. Toss in these gnocchi and stir till covered with the oil. COVER THE PAN with a lid. Cook covered 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. They kind of pan fry & steam at the same time for the best of both worlds. After 5 minutes or so, take off the cover and pan-fry them uncovered till Golden Brown and Delicious, maybe another 5-10 minutes. I like the texture this way, its especially chewy and a bit crispy.

What to serve with them for a sauce? Almost anything you can think of which you would do for a pasta. It can be as simple as just butter and grated cheese plus some black pepper, a kind of Cacio E Pepe. Or serve them with your favorite TJ tomato sauce. The TJ Pesto works quite well with these.

In the photos below you will see I cooked them with greens (swiss chard but you can use any greens like kale, spinach, arugula…) I used lots of garlic and lots of grated Rosemary Asiago *. The gnocchi were delicious with greens. Of course any Italian cheese works Parmigiano, Pecorino, Asiago) even some Mozz cut into cubes to melt in. I had these last week with some leftover Bolognese sauce I had in the freezer and they were simply amazing with Bolognese sauce. TJ’s even has a vegan bolognese sauce.

Are these better than the frozen Kale Gnocchi? For me actually they kind of are and frankly these are half the price of the frozen gnocchi which I feel don’t have the same textural integrity when cooked this way (pan fried) though I could experiment some more. There is somewhat of a shock going from being frozen into heat that I think texturally messes up the frozen gnocchi?

Anyway if you never tried these packaged Gnocchi, check them out the next time you are in the pasta section. I can’t tell you how many times when we “had nothing in the house to eat” we found we had a package of these in the pantry and had a dinner ready in under ten minutes.

*RECIPE : PAN FRIED GNOCCHI with Swiss Chard & Rosemary Asiago Cheese – Separate leaves and stems from Swiss Chard. Cook the cut stems with 3 cloves of garlic smashed until tender in olive oil. Remove greens from pan then into same pan, toss in a pack of gnocchi with a tablespoon of EVOO and 1 tbl butter. Cook covered as discussed above till browned all over. Now add back the swiss chard plus chopped up leaves. Cook and toss around in pan till leaves are cooked till your liking. Toss in some chopped parsley or arugula. Season to taste with a little salt, sprinkle of lemon juice and lots of black pepper (optionally – a spoon of BOMBA) Grate a few ounces of Asiago, Pecorino or Parmigiano over all and drizzle with good EVOO. Serve 2 as dinner or 4 as a side.

(Can substitute Kale, Arugula, Spinach or any green)

Pan fried Gnocchi with Swiss Chard and Asiago

SEARCH : Pan Fried Gnocchi Recipes – IDEAS

https://bit.ly/3hIZLHo

TJ’s Hot & Sweet Jalapeños


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TJ’s Hot & Sweet Jalapeño Slices

These are SO good! Another simply Brilliant condiment which Trader Joe’s seems especially good at coming up with. These are sliced picked jalapeños plus sweetness from organic cane sugar so they are Hot & Sweet which makes for an even improved version over TJ’s regular pickled jalapeños which are quite good too. Now know that these are SPICY! Spicier than the regular TJ pickled jalapeños. There are whole dried red chilis in the jar plus it says pureed jalapeños too to ramp up the heat level.

My wife and I dream up new ideas for things to put these on. Last night we put them on top of grilled hamburgers (on toasted brioche bread). Ok this is a no-brainer of course they were freakin’ delicious on our hamburgers… or hot dogs or sausages or sandwiches. For breakfast this morning I put a few slices of these hot and sweet babies on my toasted half a bagel with cottage cheese. They went perfectly with the mellow cottage cheese to spice up something that otherwise would be pretty boring. Great combo. The bottle has good suggestions on the label, such as add them chopped up to your guacamole. For that matter add some chopped up on top of your avocado toast! Grilled cheese? Oh yes, these go perfectly put some in with the cheese before you grill them so they mix into that melted cheese (chopped or whole if you want big spicy bites). Scrambled eggs? Oh yes, again delicious. Ditto with cream cheese and crackers. Brilliant. Especially with the Red Chili Crackers. For nachos? Another no-brainer. Finally do not ignore TJ’s suggestion about not wasting that leftover juice in the bottle for using in marinades. This hot and spicy pickle juice is amazing. I keep of bottle of just that in the fridge.

Here’s just one idea: SPICY CHICKEN – Marinate BONELESS CHICKEN (BREASTS or THIGHS) in the spicy juice for a 1 hour. Then grill them with a sprinkle of Ajika Georgian seasoning. When done, spoon a little extra spicy syrup on top of the finished grilled breasts with their juices. Dot with a few slices of the jalapeños. You’re welcome.

$2.50/12 oz jar

BONELESS PORK TENDERLOIN (with recipe ideas)


Another one of those things that I get almost every time I go to Trader Joe’s as it’s delicious and an extremely versatile thing to have in the fridge (or freezer) as well as a real bargain.

If you are not familiar with “pork tenderloin” let’s put it this way… If this was beef it would be the filet mignon. The best melt-in-your-mouth deliciously tender cut. One big difference? Beef filet mignon costs about $15-20/lb or more? But this “pork filet mignon” sells for $4/lb at Trader Joe’s. A $5 piece can feed a family. So deliciously tasty as well as super affordable.

Trader Joe’s sells 4 versions of the pork tenderloin. “Plain”, 2 marinated ones (peppercorns and garlic & herbs) that cost a bit more but come on, it’s so easy to do a marinade of your own in a few minutes. TJ also sells a “crate free” pork tenderloin if you prefer which is $6/lb. At Whole Foods I’m just guessing this would cost double that price?

Boneless pork tenderloin is a lean cut with almost no waste. It sometimes has a “silverskin” which should be removed before cooking. This is not very hard, you just need a very sharp knife.

I frequently just cut the tenderloin into “medallions” or steaks about 1/2-3/4 ” thick, season them, and cook them as one might cook filet mignon. Or one can cook it whole in a pan, then slice it afterwards (deglazing the pan after for a pan sauce). Cut the meat into strips, and this is so perfect for Asian dishes & stir-fry’s. Or Fajitas or Tacos! Whole, its great for roasting in the oven. Pork tenderloin can be an impressive center-piece of a fancy dinner (See the stuffed roast pork tenderloin video recipe below) Another tip: Be sure not to overcook tenderloin, as it’s so lean it can easily get overcooked and dried out. A correct cook of tenderloin should have a bit of pink (trust me, it’s safe and fine) TIP: Slice slits in the meat and insert thin slices of garlic all over.

Seasonings for pork tenderloin? You can not go wrong with any of these: garlic, lemon, rosemary, cumin, peppercorns…. and AJIKA!

TIP for Asian stir frying: The Chinese technique of Velveting any meat for 20 minutes will make it even better.

https://www.theendlessmeal.com/baked-pork-tenderloin/

https://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/healthy-pork-tenderloin-recipes

This is a terrific looking, easy recipe from Milk Street, SPICE CRUSTED PORK TENDERLOIN BITES

BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS – How To Cook Nice and Juicy! (RECIPE)


Lots of people complain about boneless chicken breasts as being dry and tasteless. But they don’t have to be. You can easily make them turn out juicy and delicious with this little cooking trick I’ve come up with.

Boneless breasts can quickly go from being moist and juicy to being dry with just a minute of overcooking. So you do have to be careful with your cook time and technique. Over the years I’ve experimented plenty cooking boneless breasts and I’ve figured out a method that really works well. Try this the next time you make chicken breasts. Here’s my my not-so-secret, secret way of cooking boneless breasts so they are juicy and delicious.

Chicken breast meat, especially off the bone and with the skin removed, is naturally very lean. It just doesn’t have enough intra-muscular fat, as dark meat such as thighs have which makes chicken thighs much easier to cook, without them getting overcooked and dried out. Therefore the trick with cooking boneless breasts is basically to get a very nice sear on both sides, then let them finish in the pan with the cover on and the heat off using residual heat to let them finish cooking. That’s the secret in a nutshell. Details follow.

Chicken breasts – Fresh or Frozen. During Covid-19, I started buying frozen breasts instead of fresh at Trader Joe’s. Sure I usually would prefer fresh over frozen but I don’t want to go to a store as often, so having frozen chicken breasts in the freezer is very practical. TJ’s sells them prepped and quick frozen in 2.5 lb bags, either “whole breasts with rib section” which are a big whole breasts or you can get portioned, trimmed up ones which are half a breast and make a perfect portion per person. They run about 7 or 8 dollars a bag. And there is an Organic option which doesn’t cost much more than the regular ones so you might opt for those. If I get them frozen, I let them do an overnight defrost (more like a full day) in the fridge – how long will depend on how thick they are. As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I always use the slow defrost method, as it is the best method for defrosting almost everything. If you rush the defrosting and say leave it out on the counter you will see liquid run out of the meat. Then your chicken will be drier no matter how you cook them. Naturally if you prefer to use fresh boneless chicken breasts, this same cooking method works equally well with fresh breasts. Fresh of course is the “normal” way I would buy chicken pre-Covid-19 and have also at times bought fresh breasts on sale, trim them up and freeze them myself. It’s just a little more work, but when they are $1.99 /lb on sale at my supermarket, its worth it.

Here’s the general outline of this method:

Season/Marinate. Sear on both sides. Turn off heat. COVER PAN. WAIT.

COOKING JUICY CHICKEN BREASTS :

Prep and trim the breasts. Season and/or marinate the meat (use a spice rub or marinade). In the picture above I used some TJ TACO SEASONING all over the breasts. Its a convenient spice blend I think actually works well with chicken as well as beef. Its a cumin and chile “mexican” spice blend. AJIKA works great too. Of course any mix or blend of spices of your choosing will work. Smoked Spanish Paprika is great to add as it helps browning and is very flavorful (TJ carries it in a tin). I almost always add fresh garlic. Rub spices all over. Salt/pepper to taste. Let the seasoned chicken marinate/sit for 20-30 minutes on the counter. TIP: Rub some Olive Oil (EVOO) over the chicken before adding the spices and they will stick better. Some people like a sprinkle of some coating (a bit of flour, or breadcrumbs or Panko). What we are going for is a nice golden brown color on both sides of the chicken.

Put a tablespoon of olive oil (or oil and butter mix) in your pan (Non-stick or Cast Iron). Cast iron is terrific. Get your pan hot. Add chicken. Let it sear. DO NOT TOUCH or move the breasts in the pan for 3-5 minutes until you see a good “Golden Brown and Delicious” sear on the bottom side. Good browning is crucial for flavor (aka the Maillard effect). When bottom side is done, use a spatula and flip the breasts over and cook other side – but only about 2-3 minutes on side 2 (!) Now turn off the fire and immediately put a tight fitting lid on your pan. Do not peek or open the cover for 7-10 minutes (we don’t want to let the precious steam that will finish cooking them) TIP: (optional) Squeeze a quarter lemon in the pan before closing the lid, quickly. Throw the peel in too.

Set your timer for 7-10 minutes to let the breasts finish cooking in the covered pan. Thats the whole trick, letting residual steam and heat finish them, slowly. Voila! Juicy Breasts with a ton of flavor.

This little trick to cook juicy boneless breasts is that easy. With this method, the seared breasts are not cooked all the way through the middle but the the “closed, moist environment” inside the pan will finish cooking them in a moist way. Now, you may have to play around with your own timing, and adjust a little bit either way based on thickness of chicken and what type of pan. What we are aiming for in the cooking is getting them just over the line of seeing any pink. After they are just past the point of not being a bit pink / done, you get them out of the pan and rest them on a plate or cutting board for about 4-5 minutes (some foil over them will help keep them warm). Resting meat keeps juices in. The breasts should be cooked through (don’t slice before resting them, but once rested you can “peek” in a thick section). Remember meats continue cooking a bit from residual heat inside.

In the photo the bigger piece did need another 30-60 seconds to finish cooking completely so I just put it back with the cover on with a lowish flame. Its way easier if they are a bit underdone to cook them a little bit more then overcook them. You can also make shallow slashes in the thicker part of a breast prior to seasoning them to help even things out with the thinner parts as heat will penetrate the slashed part easier. Or you can pound the thick part flat with a pan a bit which will even them out. Anyway give this method a few tries and you will figure out your exact timings depending on a few factors (chicken thickness, heat source, pan thickness, etc). Electric stoves of course have a great deal of residual heat after they are shut off so Wait Time would really need to be much less (or just move the pan to a cool burner). If your chicken is still coming out “dry” with this Sear & Cover Method, you will need to deduct a minute of the outside browning time especially after you turn them. Conversely if its pink in the thickest part add a tiny bit more time. You can also try it with the lid on for the second side browning, but deduct a minute or two as the steaming effect inside the pan will be more intense. Now that you know this sear and cover method, you can experiment. If you like the results please let us know in the COMMENTS section.

Naturally serving these with a tasty sauce is great for flavor plus keeping things moist too. Try yogurt and Green Dragon or Zhoug -or- yogurt and lemon, or just deglaze the pan with a tiny bit of stock, wine or even just water and using the scrapings, and a bit of butter to make a few tablespoons of pan sauce. If you want a slightly thick sauce, add a pinch of cornstarch slurry.

Hope you enjoy this basic technique. If you want to explore cooking boneless breasts by poaching them instead of grilling, the Kitchn has a detailed explanation and good cooking technique for POACHED BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS (LINK BELOW) Poaching is great for moistness, but you don’t get the intense flavor of grilling.

https://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-moist-tender-chicken-breasts-every-time-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-36891

TJ’s Wild Argentinian Red Shrimp (frozen)


“Trader Joe’s Argentinian Red Shrimp are caught off the southern coast of Argentina. They have a sweet lobster like flavor and texture. Grill, barbecue or sauté. Serve with pasta, on salads or as an entrée…”

Trader Joe’s Wild Raw Red Argentinian Shrimp are tasty and practical.

I now regularly buy these frozen shrimp at TJ’s, as once I tried them I found them to be sweet and tasty and outstanding value. These red shrimp have a rich sweet “lobster-y” flavor. These are wild (not farmed!) “Argentinian Red Shrimp”* caught in the icy waters off Argentina’s coast. They are cleaned then individually flash frozen: easy to use. These are very decently sized (20/25 count aka Large). They are of course terrific simply sauteed with olive oil and lots of garlic, scampi style.

Are Patagonian Red Shrimp “the sweetest shrimp in the world”? Maybe a marketer came up with that but in fact they are actually nice and sweet and yes even “lobster-y”. (If you are interested in learning more here’s detailed info about “Patagonian Red Shrimp”)

If I’m not using the whole bag I simply take out as many shrimp as I need and put the bag back closed with a twisty, AND double bag it inside a Ziplock freezer bag. This prevents freezer burn. Use Patagonian Red Shrimp any way that you would normally use any other shrimp after defrosting of course.

So first things first: Best ways to defrost them. First I would suggest the traditional overnight thaw in the fridge in a covered bowl. Just plan ahead. If you have less time, some other options: Put them in a ziplock bag, submerge the bag in a bowl weighting it down under a plate, and run a light stream of cold water over them. They will be defrosted in about 15-20 minutes. I have also simply put some shrimp in a bowl and covered them with an inch of cold water, stirring them every 5 minutes or so, which also works and takes maybe 20-30 mins. I would not cook them from frozen state as they will surely shrink a lot and lose a lot of liquid. I would not nuke them to defrost them.

Cooking: Whatever cooking method you use, be sure not to overcook them. These shrimp do cook quickly. If you are say using a sauce, you can simmer the (defrosted) shrimp slowly in the sauce at the very end cooking them maybe 2-3 minutes (turning them over once). Patagonian Red Shrimp actually cook faster than other shrimp. They will be done quickly, in maybe 2 minutes. As soon as they are no longer translucent and look firmed up they are done, or at least should be removed at that point and then added back to your dish at the end. Not over cooking them will keep them tender, juicy and plump the way you want them. If you overcook shrimp they become tougher/chewier and shrink quite a bit.

You can blot them with a paper towel, sprinkle them with a little seasoned flour and sauté them in oil and butter. One trick I saw on MilkStreet recently was to grill shrimp on one side only, take them out of the pan then finish them in the dish for 30 seconds at the end. This is a Great idea! These shrimp are of course great grilled or sautéed and used in a pasta dish, or any recipe. Put them on a skewer and broil or grill them. They are equally great gently poached 3 minutes. TIP: marinate 15 min in lots of TJ’s CUBAN SPICE BLEND, great with these. Or any spices of your choosing.

PS – These match very well with TJ’s Peri-Peri Sauce

TJ’s sells Wild Red Shrimp for $9.99 (1 lb. bag /20/25 count). They are usually double that price elsewhere if you can find them. (UPDATE : TJ recently raised the price not long after I posted this; they are now $10.99 – Feb 2021). You’ll probably like these shrimp if you try them. I find them super convenient to have in the freezer. More ideas for dishes using shrimp below.

I made a nice Thai Shrimp Curry with veggies and Thai Red Curry sauce and added the shrimp at the very last 2 minutes (no-recipe recipes follows below).

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Here’s a tasty Thai style curry I made with the shrimp and lots of veggies with TJ’s Thai Red Curry Sauce. Or use the Yellow or Green thai simmer sauce. I added the shrimp at the very last few minutes and served it with Jasmine Rice. Yum!

THAI STYLE SHRIMP CURRYSauté some onions and garlic in oil for 5 minutes, throw in chopped carrots, celery, potatoes (optional add ins: mushrooms, peas, sweet potatoes, scallions) …sauté everything for 5 more minutes, throw in 1/4-1/2 cup liquid (water or broth*) simmer for 10 minutes, toss in a jar of TJ Thai Red Curry sauce, simmer about 10 more minutes till all veggies are tender. The last 2 minutes add shrimp and cook gently in the sauce, stirring occasionally. Rest 3 minutes. Add some chopped scallions. Serve the curry with jasmine rice on the side.

Another dish: Ramen – I used these shrimp in a bowl of ramen (“Roy Choi style” instant ramen with a slice of cheese and butter. Sounds crazy but works, see video below). For this dish which was a dinner, I made a veggie stock instead of using the packet of seasoning* and added some fresh mushrooms. I added the shrimp at the very end of cooking, and only cooked them about a minute or two. You can see they look juicy from not overcooking.

TIP: That little flavor packet included with instant ramen is loaded with Sodium (like 50% of daily recommended level)? Too much Sodium is bad for your blood pressure. Better to use your own stock or low sodium stock and maybe just add a bit of the flavor packet. Worst case, use only half the packet and if it tastes too flat, add something to flavor it up without adding much sodium (a dash of low sodium soy sauce or a few drops of Nam Pla (fish sauce).

ROY CHOI’S INSTANT RAMEN WITH CHEESE

There are so many ways you might use shrimp, so here’s one more idea: How about Shrimp Rolls (like a lobster roll)? These shrimp are “lobster-y” so would be perfect in a a shrimp roll. Gently poach them then put some on some lightly toasted buttered Brioche bread or aloha buns, (cut up shrimp, a little mayo, some Old Bay seasoning or dried dill) You can pretend it’s a lobster roll; Well its the next best thing.

Another idea? Vietnamese style rice paper shrimp rolls (search Asian markets for the rice wrappers) https://justasdelish.com/vietnamese-shrimp-rolls-peanut-hoisin-sauce/

Want one more idea? Fried rice with shrimp is fantastic.

Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls with Peanut Hoisin Sauce (Gỏi Cuốn with Nước Lèo)

Easy Pizza with Tandoori Naan


When I saw these frozen TANDOORI NAAN, I had an idea… Could I use these naan for the “base” of a pizza? If so than I could make pizza in mere seconds! OK it actually took me more like 5 minutes to assemble these pizzas (see pic) and pop them in a hot oven. But the idea? It basically worked fine. Using these Naan breads makes it super fast and easy to whip up some individual sized pizzas almost instantly. Just spread some of your favorite sauce, put on some cheese, and pop them in the oven, and Bingo you got a fresh hot pizza in about  10-15 minutes with almost no work at all.

As you can see in the pictures, I simply put some marinara on. I put slices of TJ whole milk mozzarella on, then threw it in the oven on a baking sheet for about 10-12 minutes at 400 .

Yes, I spruced these up a little adding a few sliced mushrooms and a few sliced asparagus to make it a bit “veggie”. I had this stuff in the fridge. Now I turned on the broiler for the last minute or two to really get the top nice and browned (I over did this by a few seconds so be careful if you do the broiler browning part). When they came out, I put some fresh grated parmesan on for good measure, and a drizzle of EVOO.

DELICIOUS!

naanpizza3

The Naan Pizza turned out quite good as you can probably tell from the pic. We ate one each with a salad for dinner and that made a very satisfying (and tasty!) dinner for us. Making these with the Naan requires so little time and effort. Yes the naan is not a real pizza base, it is more bread-y than a real pizza but seriously this was so fast, easy and cheap that making PIZZA NAAN is certainly worth giving a try sometime. TIP: Buy and try this with the GARLIC NAAN version TJ has as well. Obviously the Trader Joe’s Naan are great used in the traditional way too. For example accompanying some of the TJ Masala Chickpeas (frozen section) which are delicious!

A pack of 4 Naan is $1.99 (50 cents each, not bad huh). These are great to have in your freezer for pizza or Indian food or to use in many imaginative ways whenever you are in the mood.

PACIFIC ORGANIC ALMOND MILK


I’ve tried a number of the “milk alternative” beverages at Trader Joe’s. Most of them are pretty good. The one I keep going back to is PACIFIC FOODS ORGANIC ALMOND MILK (“Original”). I think the reason is I find its taste is a tiny bit better due to the fact the almonds its made from are roasted.

The Pacific Foods website says: “We take organic almonds and add a gentle roast to emphasize the robust, authentic flavors of the almonds. The result is our smooth, signature taste that’s a pleasure to drink by the glass and blends perfectly in your dairy-free recipes.”

We all know roasting nuts brings out their flavor, right? This subtle but noticeable taste in this almond beverage makes a small but slightly significant better taste giving this almond beverage a little depth of flavor over the other almond milks TJ carries.

I mostly use Almond Milk in the morning on my cereal. But this is also good to drink on its own (well chilled), mixed with yogurt, which is usually the things I put on my breakfast cereal with some fruit. I use this almond milk to make Smoothies; and its great for those. I actually do drink regular (cow) milk too though. I use regular whole milk in my daily cappuccino. Almond or Soy milk adds a taste that I don’t like in coffee drinks, for my taste or a cup of English tea.

The Pacific Almond Beverage costs a bit than the other nut milk beverages. This sells for $2.19 (1 Qt) compared to for example TJ’s Almond Milk ($1.89). Still this is worth trying and comparing to see what you like best. This version (original) does have a little organic cane sugar in it, but its hardly “sweet” and I think that also makes it tastier. Cow’s milk has naturally produced sugars too you know, just check the label.

The dairy milk industry by the way has been going crazy for the last few years about the word “milk” being used for anything other than the liquid produced by lactating cows. Hence the wording: “plant-based beverage” on the this box! The FDA thinks people get confused seeing the word milk used for anything other than cow milk. I do feel bad for dairy farmer’s, who have seen milk consumption decline way down from say, when I was a kid.

 

NO RECIPE RECIPE: BREAKFAST SOAKED OATS aka OVERNIGHT OATS (No Cooking)

OVER NIGHT OATS ARE A YUMMY AND HEALTHY BREAKFAST!

The night before, put up some rolled oats (or quick oats) in a bowl or container. Pour an equal amount of almond milk over them to cover by a bit and stir to mix. A spoonful of chia seeds are nice too! Let this oatey mix sit and soften up overnight in the fridge. The raw oats will soften up without cooking and become yummy. If you use Quick Oats this can be ready to eat in 15 minutes or so. Dried fruits thrown in will soften and be lovely too (dried cranberries, dates, raisins….) In the morning the mixture will be ready to eat. Top your overnight oaks with your favorite fruits (bananas, berries…) yogurt or kefir and maybe more almond milk if too thick. Some crunchy topping? Granola or a cereal. Nuts. Sweeten with honey or some raw sugar if desired. 

OVERNIGHT OATS WITH NICE PHOTOS

AHI TUNA (frozen)


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“The secret to cooking Ahi Tuna is not to overcook it”

“Ahi” is the Hawaiian word for Yellowfin Tuna. AHI TUNA STEAKS are sold in the frozen section at Trader Joe’s. As the package states, “Wild Caught, Spain”, means it was fished from Spanish waters of the Atlantic.

How To Cook: A slow defrost overnight or longer in the fridge is the best method. Slow defrosting is best = but in an “emergency” you can try putting the package in a shallow dish and using the running cold water method, put it under the faucet with a slow stream of cold water. I suggest you Do Not nuke it to defrost it. The package states you should “remove from package before defrosting”. Huh? I’m not quite sure why… does anyone have a clue why? Anyway I defrost it in the fridge overnight or for 24 hours if I can. Once the fish is defrosted I marinate it for a half hour to an hour. As far as marinades go, I generally make a typical Asian/Japanese style marinade: Soy sauce, fresh grated ginger, fresh ground black pepper, a pinch of honey or brown sugar, plus a bit of some oil, either olive oil or better still a teaspoon of TJ’s dark roasted sesame oil. You can add some type of acid if you like: a tiny amount of cider vinegar, lemon juice, or sake if you have it. You should serve it with some citrus, fresh Lemon or Lime.

Cooking Ahi Tuna: It is crucial that you don’t overcook tuna as it can dry out easily. Tuna is very easily overcooked so be careful with your cooking time. Personally I think AHI is best cooked in the Japanese “Tataki-style” way which is just searing the outside on all sides and leaving the center barely cooked, a bit pink. I generally cook it in a black cast iron pan over med-high heat with a little neutral oil, searing the outside for 60-90 seconds on one side then turning with tongs to cook the other sides for a minute. You can use the tongs on the sides but again be careful not to overcook your fish. After you do it once or twice you will get the hang of cooking this way. When done, take the fish out of the pan, and let it rest for a few minutes before you slice it. Which you will do against the grain like a steak. Be sure to save the pan juices and any juice that runs out on the cutting board to pour over your fish.

You can deglaze the pan with sake, rice vinegar, or a tablespoon of water, or some extra marinade that you saved at the beginning. I found that if you marinated the fish and use that marinade to deglaze the pan there is protein that coagulates when you cook it, so it glops up a little (I just thin it with soy and some water, it doesn’t bother me too much,  it makes it thicker thats all). If that gloppy stuff bothers you, don’t use the marinade, make a fresh sauce to serve with the fish. Here’s some ideas for sauces….

“Butter Shoyu” (Soy Butter Sauce) Put a fat dollop of butter in the pan along with a little soy sauce, which are a terrific combination. Mix it well and and pour over the Ahi. Serve with slices of fresh lemon or lime.

PONZU: Another classic Japanese sauce. Combine Soy sauce and fresh Lemon Juice. Do not cook this, just mix together. A bit of grated lemon rind would be a gourmet touch.

As in the photo of my finished Ahi, it should end up seared on the outside and pink in the center, just how pink is up to you. I like mine like it is in the thickest part, the center (just this side of raw) while my wife likes it as it is cooked on the ends (medium) which I think of as overcooked. As a final touch, I sprinkled some sesame seeds on top, sliced it against the grain, and put it on a bed of arugula, pouring the pan juices over the top. Ahi Tuna is really delicious and I am sure your family will also love this very steak-y fish (which they normally know from a can).

You could even try it as “Poke” I guess (ceviche style). I am willing to eat it this way but my (Japanese) wife won’t let me make this as poke as she says this is not “sashimi grade tuna” (true) which costs three times as much, selling for about $25/lb instead of this at $8/lb. So at 8 bucks a pound this is a another good deal from Mr. Trader Joe. Ahi Tuna is one of my favorite fishes that TJ’s carries, and I highly recommend trying it if you never have before. If you have any leftovers, it is delicious served cold the next day, maybe on a bed of rice or a salad.

ASIAN MARINADE: 2-3 tbs soy sauce; 1″ peeled fresh ginger, grated; fresh ground black pepper, a little honey or brown sugar, teaspoon of sesame oil (or olive oil) plus lemon or lime juice for a marinade (you can make a bit more and save some to serve on the side). Marinate in the fridge (on fully defrosted fish) for 30-60 minutes turning it once. Cook as desired.

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Having said how great this fish is please let’s not eat TOO much as this species is on the “near threatened” list. We eat AHI tuna no more than once a month. Though this says the Atlantic Yellowfin is sustainably harvested.

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