TJ’s Smoked Ahi Tuna


Trader Joe’s Sesame Crusted Smoked Ahi Tuna

I am crazy for most any smoked fish. Some nice smoked salmon on a bagel with a shmear of cream cheese is my idea of Heaven, or at least a heavenly Sunday breakfast. I also love Ahi Tuna, so when I saw this new product, Smoked Ahi Tuna it immediately said to me, “give this a try”.

TJ’s Sesame Crusted Smoked Ahi Tuna is very, very lightly smoked. As in barely smoked. Unlike most smoked salmon, where you open up the package and really get a smoked fish aroma this is so light that its a mere hint. So to be honest, while I found TJ’s smoked ahi tuna to be kind of tasty it’s not anything like smoked salmon or most any smoked fish I’ve had. Maybe people who don’t love smoked fish might like this as it’s not strong, its light. It has a light pink color and looks rather pretty. There are some white thread-like areas (more on this later). It was cut a bit unevenly so it was a little thick in some places and thin in others. I found the thinner cut tuna tasted better than thicker areas. Cutting smoked fish by hand is an art.

One thing I didn’t like was some white thread-like areas, some of which when you ate them were tough and inedible. Like sinew.,,, if tuna have sinew? You can see the white areas in the package. So I carefully cut the densest of the white areas away before serving, which was a pain. These tough white areas seem like a lack of quality of the tuna and its preparation.

I served it by putting the smoked Ahi on top of halves of TJ’s Red Chile scalloped crackers (LOVE THESE!) spread with softened cream cheese mixed with a pinch of greek yogurt and lemon, and topped it all off with fresh dill. This actually did make a nice combination and a nice appetizer for us. Still our guests and I couldn’t help thinking it would have been better made with smoked salmon. So would I buy this again? Frankly I doubt it as it was not terribly special, was not great quality and I think the smoked salmon TJ sells is better for the same price. However if are not big on smoked fish and/or want to try something different for all I know you just might like this as it’s barely smoked fish. A package is $6.

Trader Joe’s ITALIAN BOMBA HOT SAUCE


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Since it was released Trader Joe’s Italian “Bomba” Hot Pepper Sauce has blown up as one of the best new products that Trader Joe’s has come out with. Once again in this case it’s not unjustified hype…. all the hype about TJ’s “BOMBA” is completely justified! This stuff is just incredible. I could say “its the bomb” but I won’t!

BOMBA is made primarily from crushed Calabrian chiles which in this product are also fermented. You probably know that fermenting foods adds complex elements to flavor, expanding them more. They become deeper and more complex, and in this Bomba sauce the fermentation of Calabrian chiles adds that magical “fifth” taste.. yup you got it. UMAMI. Now of course this Bomba hot sauce is spicy but it is really not knock your head off spicy. It’s spicy and full of flavor at the same time. I just put a small spoonful in my mouth and while I got “yes this is kind of spicy”, it didn’t want to make me want to drink a glass of milk or anything. I got something beyond “spicy”, there is a kind of funkiness (oh, thats the fermentation and umami) even a tiny bit of sweetness. Depending on the amount you use, you can adjust the level of spiciness. If you add even just a little bit to dishes, I am talking a quarter of a teaspoon or a few drops, it will add a level a flavor that may surprise you. How to use Bomba sauce? Of course this is going to be great added to tomato sauces, say on pasta or pizza or what have you. But what about other pasta dishes? A little bit in your Carbonara? Yeah baby. A spoonful mixed into your Spaghetti Aglio e Olio? Yes. And all those Gnocchi you love?! Regular, cauliflower, kale, or what have you… OMG folks, this stuff and some very nice olive oil will make your gnocchi soar.

But Bomba is for more than for “just Italian”. I put some on my scrambled eggs and it was divine. A drop of it onto of my buttered toasted baguette. A small spoon mixed into my avocado toast or guacamole. Add some to your next marinade. Dips and sauces? Perfect. You can mix this up with some Greek yogurt (or mayonnaise for that matter) for an instant wonderful sauce, to top some cooked Chicken Breasts, Shrimp, or Tofu as well. Or try that mix as a dip for some chips. Drizzle some with olive oil and garlic on your roasted veggies. Add a spoon of this to your soup or most any sauce to give it some jazz. I love it on cottage cheese (seriously). On my sardines on toast. Add garlic to Bomba, and of course these two go into the stratosphere. The list is endless and I promise you, you will discover uses on your own exploring that you will come up with (and if they’re good, please share some with us in the COMMENTS below).

TJ’s Bomba is truly a premium gourmet offering. Amazingly Trader Joe’s sells this for $3 a jar, which is frankly incredible. Oh and it’s really Italian, says “Product Of Italy” on the label. I have found it sold out on occasion missing on the shelves as its a big hit at TJ. So if you like it, next time grab an extra one to keep in the pantry like I do (but leave some for the next guy!) Ingredients are: Chilies, Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Basil, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid. I generally add some very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil down the road to “seal the top” off and help keep it fresher for longer as well. Honestly even if you are not really the “hot sauce” type I suggest you get a jar of this to try. Calabrian chili’s are not super hot; they are in the “medium” spice level. People can pop them in their mouths easily. Personally I can’t live without having a jar of Bomba in the fridge now and if you try this, you may feel exactly the same.

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Argentinian Red Shrimp (frozen)


(from the package) 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…”.

I now buy these frozen shrimp at Trader Joe’s all the time. Once I tried them I found they were excellent for taste and value. These are nice, very good sized shrimp (aka Large) 20/25 count, wild caught, not farmed, uncooked “Argentinian Red Shrimp”* that have been cleaned and flash frozen separately, so easy to take just some and freeze the rest. Super convenient.

Patagonian Red Shrimp are said to be “the sweetest shrimp in the world”. Well maybe a marketer came up with that, but they are nice and sweet!

(If you are interested in learning more here’s detailed info about “Patagonian Red Shrimp”)

If I’m not using the whole bag of shrimp at once I just take out as many as I need and put the rest back closed with a twisty and double bagged in another ziplock freezer bag.

One can cook these Patagonian Red Shrimp any way that you would normally use any other shrimp, after defrosting them of course. So first things first, best ways to defrost them. First I would suggest leaving them to slowly thaw in the fridge overnight or longer in a covered bowl.

If you have less time, some options: Leave them in a colander over a bowl (save any liquid – shrimp stock).

OR: Put them in a ziplock bag, submerge the bag in a bowl, and run a light stream of cold water till defrosted. Weight bag down with a plate. They will be defrosted in about 15 minutes. Save any juice they give up which you can use as “shrimp stock”. I also have simply put them in a bowl and covered them with an inch of cold water, stirring them every 5 minutes or so, which worked as well.

Cooking: If you are say using a sauce, you can simmer your (defrosted) shrimp slowly in the sauce at the very end cooking them maybe 2-3 minutes (turning them over once). Whatever cooking method you use, be sure not to overcook them. They say Patagonian Red Shrimp actually cook faster than other shrimp. They do cook quite quickly, in maybe 1-2 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. You can blot them with a paper towel, sprinkle them with a little seasoned flour, or panko, and sauté them in oil and butter. One little 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 one minute. This is a Great idea!

These shrimp are of course great grilled or sautéed in garlic and butter, and used in a pasta dish for example, or any shrimp dish. They are equally great gently poached (TIP: marinate 15 min in lots of TJ’s CUBAN SPICE BLEND, super yummy) Or any spices of your choosing.

TJ’s Wild Red Shrimp cost $10 for a 1 lb. bag (20/25 count). If you find these Patagonia Red Shrimp frozen or fresh they are usually double that price elsewhere. (UPDATE : TJ recently raised the price not long after I posted this; they are now $11 – Feb 2021).

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

You’ll probably love these too. 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).

RAVE

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.