Seen at Trader Joe’s: Fresh HATCH CHILE PEPPERS


SEASONAL ITEM: Fresh HATCH CHILE peppers from New Mexico. These pepper have almost a cult following! These are seasonal items I remember seeing once before a few years ago at Trader Joe’s, pre-Covid here in NYC. If you want to try these grab them asap, as they are not around for very long. Roast them on the grill or under the broiler to bring out the flavor. Other times of year you can get them dried in the jar at TJ’s as Hatch Chile Flakes. The sign has a mistake and says they are from “Mexico” nope, the Hatch valley is in New Mexico !

Trader Joe’s KALAMATA Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($5!)


Great price on a good extra virgin olive oil from Greece, single origin, Kalatmata olives. I really like the attractively designed tin it comes in too. “Bright and grassy in flavor with a light bitter finish”. I like it’s taste. 16.9 oz. $4.99? Super!

Seen at Trader Joe’s: OLIVE TREE Plants For Sale!


Olive Trees?!? Yes….wow, cool. For $13 it’s yours. Need to make up with someone? You could give them an olive branch!

Trader Joe’s VEGETABLE MASALA BURGERS


MEH

I’m not vegetarian. Still I like to try vegetarian options and see if they are any good. I love (repeat, love!) Indian food. This looked a bit appealing to me, the picture intrigued me and it says “with Authentic Indian Spices”. After all “Masala” means mixed spices. Tasting it, all I could think of “spices? what spices?”. To me, they’re almost non-existent. So short review is this is OK. It’s also not terribly exciting either and Indian food generally is. This could be served to an Indian baby. Most any authentic Indian dish is exploding with spices used very freely. Masala Dosa for example is basically mashed potato but has a ton of spices which make it delicious. This “masala burger” is primarily potatoes, so its kind of basically a mashed potato burger. It has pieces of vegetables in it, such as red pepper and corn. The concept is not bad – it’s just the lack of spices which defeats the purpose of calling it “masala” (mixed spices). The burger is OK, just lacking an authentic Indian spice profile which might make it tasty. If you put this on a bun as is it will basically be a potato sandwich.

These need something added to it. Sriracha. Peri-peri sauce. Zhough. Bomba. Magnifisauce. Some actual Indian Masala Spices if you have them. At least put some garlic powder on these if you make them and add some Hatch chile flakes. The only thing that perked this up a little bit was putting a little TJ’s TAMARIND SAUCE on, which is basically a tamarind chutney sauce. My wife told me “one was enough” and she usually scarfs down my cooking, so that was not a good review. If you’re vegetarian it might be worth checking out as an option as long as you fix it up. 4 burgers are $2.99. I won’t buy this again, however vegetarians might like this if they do something to it.

Trader Joe’s TEA TREE TINGLE Body Wash (hot weather must!)


Trust me, you want this.

This body wash is a must have for hot weather! “Invigorates with Peppermint, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree botanicals….” It’s the perfect product especially right now for the heat wave that much of the U.S. has been experiencing (July 2022). TJ’s Tea Tree Tingle body wash has tea tree oil, peppermint, eucalyptus and other natural essential plant botanical oils, which make for a really refreshing and invigorating body wash for your shower. It smells terrific. It was so refreshing sponging up with this after a really hot summer day in NYC where the thermometer hit 95 today. This stuff was a lifesaver.

Also, I’ve found its great to add a little when I am washing out my gym clothes!

Certified Organic. Trader Joe’s sells this for just $3.99, a wow price and its a huge 16 oz bottle to boot.

I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s PEANUT & CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT


“CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT: The crispy part of the kit includes a package of tiny fried rice “CRISPY NOODLES”. The problem? After you put on dressing? These become “Not Crispy” Noodle bits.

Pros: The Asian style Peanut Dressing they give you is tasty. It’s a bit similar to TJ’s Organic Sesame Dressing (so you could make something like this yourself using that dressing)

Cons: Cabbage as the first ingredient in the salad. I thought it was cut way too big so the salad is a bit tough and too chewy. The softer Romaine lettuce, not cabbage, should have been the first ingredient IMO, plus this cabbage should be sliced thinner. However the main problem with this whole idea for a “Crispy Noodle salad kit” is obvious. The moment you mix in those “crispy noodles” (which are tiny, see pic) with the dressing and mix it all in, the “crispy noodles” become not crispy, of course. Maybe if they used some larger kind of crispy noodles, maybe like the kind you get in a Chinese restaurant? For me, these little fried rice noodles are a Fail. We both though this salad just wasn’t good. I won’t buy it again. Its goes for $3.99. You want crispy? What might work is add some lightly crushed PLANTAIN CHIPS to this. Or croutons.

Trader Joe’s new Asian products: Gochujang and Red Boat Fish Sauce !


Seen at Trader Joe’s

Red Boat Fish Sauce is back at Trader Joe’s! Red Boat brand is one of the best fish sauces on the market. TJ’s is selling it for just $4.99!? Wow, super price folks. Grab a bottle. Red Boat is a Top, Famous brand that usually costs about double that price (Amazon has it for $9). You’re lucky IF you can find it at a well stocked Asian supermarket. I suggest you grab up a bottle if you see it, even if you don’t think you would ever use it. Because you will, and should. What is Fish Sauce anyway?

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-fish-sauce

We’re talking UMAMI all day long. Believe it or not, a teaspoon of fish sauce is the secret ingredient you should add to your tomato sauce. Again, its umami. Just like Parmesan has umami and Tomato Paste too. Anchovies! The ancient Romans had their beloved “Garum” (a fermented fish sauce) which they put on everything according to historians.

The other New Asian Product seen at Trader Joe’s: Korean GOCHUJANG pepper paste, sweet, hot and savory. Review coming. If you want to know what you can use this for, watch Aaron and Claire on Youtube to get some terrific ideas for Korean dishes.

Trader Joe’s Hot Weather, Must Have, Summer Staple Items!


Its HOT all over the U.S. at the moment. Here’s just a couple of suggestions for some Trader Joe’s staples that are good to have on hand for hot weather, that can make easy pantry meals you don’t have to cook, or barely have to, and you can just throw together quickly.

Canned Salmon

TJ’s Fresh (cooked) Roasted Salmon Fillet

Greek Chickpeas

Hummus

Pita Bread / Pita Chips

Norwegian Crispread

Eggplant Garlic Spread

Shaped Pasta (tuna pasta salad)

Cans of Tuna

Rye Bread

Baked Tofu

Japanese Sesame Dressing

Coleslaw

Greek Yogurt

Ice Cream (your pick)

Parsley, Lemons, Olive Oil, Red Onion, Celery, Lettuce, Salads

HACK: Turn Trader Joe’s CARNITAS into CHAR SIU (Chinese Roasted BBQ Pork)


Here’s a hack I came up with to turn Trader Joe’s Pork Carnitas into Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Pork)

Looking at a half used package of TJ’s Carnitas I had in the fridge, I had an thought. Could I turn it into Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork) ? I mean both are roasted pork. Why couldn’t I just add the Chinese flavorings to come up with some Char Siu? So I tried it out and guess what? This hack worked great! The Carnitas now tasted very close to delicious Char Siu aka Chinese BBQ Roast Pork. My wife and I thought the hack came out delicious. Here’s how I did it.

I made a Chinese sauce, grilled up a few thick slices of the carnitas, cooked it in the sauce to absorb the flavors, then spooned on more. To get that BBQ effect, I put the pan under the broiler until it had caramelized and the sauce became a thick glaze. The pork was tender, moist and full of flavor. We were amazed at how good this turned out and how much it tasted like Chinese BBQ Pork aka Char Siu.

I will be doing this now whenever I am in the mood for some easy Char Siu ! (BTW the Carnitas / Char Siu make a great topping for Ramen!) We ate the BBQ pork along side a Chinese noodle dish I made. It could be even good just on top of a bowl of rice too and with a few veggies, or any way you would use traditional Chinese Roast Pork.

Try this hack out yourself and see how easy and tasty it is!

SAUCE TO MAKE CARNITAS CHAR SIU

1 clove of fresh garlic, crushed

1/2 inch ginger, grated

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons palm sugar / light brown sugar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

pinch of ground cinnamon (or 5 spice powder if you have some)

1/4 teaspoon of black pepper

1 teaspoon rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together in the bowl. In a cast iron or oven safe pan, grill up your Carnitas pork slices under the broiler on low, for maybe 3 minutes, watching carefully until the pork is lightly browned. Flip and brush on some Char Siu Sauce and place back under the broiler on low for maybe 1 minute checking it carefully to make sure it does not burn. Take out and turn off the broiler. Spoon any left over sauce over the pork to coat. Put the hot pan back in the oven and let it sit for 1-2 minutes for the sauce to glaze up and reduce more in the residual oven heat (again keeping an eye on it to make sure it is deeply browned but do not let it get burned) Spooning the sauce over every 30 seconds or so.

Enjoy!

Here’s a more traditional recipe making it from scratch. I made the ingredients simpler in that you can find them all at Trader Joe’s – which doesn’t sell Oyster Sauce, for example (I wish). So if you have that and other Chinese ingredients in your larder, of course add them. The CHAR SIU recipe below in Woks of Life will give you ideas.

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC TOASTED SESAME DRESSING & marinade


Trader Joe’s says “A versatile dressing that can be used for salads, marinades and dips.”

I really like this. It is delicious as well as versatile. It’s an organic Japanese / Asian sesame based dressing which is great for any salads and for coleslaw. Savory and a little sweet, with lots of Umami. Versatile as in, this is more than just for salads. It is also an excellent marinade which you can use to marinate many foods. For one thing its terrific to use with chicken. Marinate the chicken in some of this sauce for 1/2 hr or more before grilling, then brush on some more near the end as a glaze. You can also do the exact same thing with Tofu. It is really great as a sauce with the Baked Tofu. Slice up the tofu and pour some of this sauce over and sprinkle with scallions. Its also good just added on top of any sauteed veggies. Cold noodles with sesame sauce (add some more toasted sesame oil and some peanut butter and soy)

You could even mix in a tablespoon of chunky peanut butter into a some of this dressing for a Thai type variation.

Now $3.99 for a 12 oz bottle.

I would buy this again.

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