TJ’s Nori Komi “FURIKAKE” Japanese Multi-Purpose Seasoning Blend


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PRODUCT OF JAPAN

Trader Joe’s FURIKAKE Japanese multi-purpose seasoning

“Furikake” is so typical in Japan you’ll probably find a shaker of it next to the salt and pepper in most any eatery, as well as on most people’s kitchen table at home. So what is FURIKAKE? Furikake is a seasoning made up of finely chopped dried seaweed (Nori) along with sesame seeds and other flavors (even sometimes tiny whole dried fish!) Japanese will sprinkle furikake on rice to to enjoy the combined flavors, and it is really delicious on rice. However one can use it elsewhere too. Besides trying this on rice, sprinkle some furikake over some grilled fish (salmon!), or chicken, meats, on top of eggs, noodles or a bowl of ramen. It’s really versatile and goes with so many foods, all of which is why Trader Joe’s calls its “multi-purpose seasoning”, it really is. This TJ version of Nori Komi Furikake is a basic version containing sesame and seaweed. In Japan they make lots of kinds with different flavors (like dried salmon and other fish, shiso leaf, green tea, wasabi, sour plum, etc) Here is some on Amazon with 8 different kinds (and its crazy expensive, yikes!)

https://amzn.to/3HSE1V6

You know those times when you have “nothing to eat” in the house?? Well say you at least have rice; eggs and this jar of FURIKAKE… Top a bowl of rice with a fried but still runny egg, and sprinkle a liberal amount of Nori Komi Furikake over everything. Mix it all in with a spoon. Voila! EASY. YUMMY. DINNER. This is a great simple, satisfying dish. You should try it, period. (BTW in Japan where you can get can get super fresh eggs, they even crack raw eggs into the hot rice, aka GohanTamago).

Trader Joe’s Nori Komi Furikake contains: white sesame seeds, black sesame seeds, nori (seaweed), salt and kelp powder (yup, more seaweed!) Seaweed of course contains glutamates. Glutamates have “Umami”.

Personally I have to have Furikake in our pantry at all times. A jar will last some time (you can keep in the fridge too). You’ll find it in TJ’s spice section and it is really worth checking out. A jar is $2.49. At a Japanese grocery it would be twice that. Want more info and ideas: check this link, even how to make your own!

Trader Joe’s Korean Glass Noodles & Vegetable Stir Fry “JAPCHAE”


Trader Joe’s frozen JAPCHAE ; Korean Sweet Potato Glass Noodles & Vegetables stir fry

(update, march 2021: i haven’t been able to find this for some time. hoping its just a supply chain issue and not disco’d. Update2, may 2021: finally back! i just saw these again!

I had read about this new Trader Joe’s Korean frozen dish on offer. Reports on the internet were that it was good. I had to wait for it to hit our shelves in NYC so I could check it out, as I love Korean JapChae. Finally I saw it in our TJ’s here and got one to try. I was pretty impressed. It is indeed quite good. Even my (Korean) wife gave it her seal of approval with her comment “it tastes like JapChae” – it tastes authentically Korean. Lable does say it’s “MADE IN KOREA”. The noodles in JapChae are a clear vermicelli type noodle made from Korean sweet potato. These are called glass or cellophane noodles as that is what they resemble. Korean Chap jae or (Jap Chae) is a tasty noodle stir fry dish. TJ’s ChapJae is VEGETARIAN / VEGAN. Trade Joe’s sells it in the frozen Asian section, ready to eat. As well as being quite tasty it’s a pretty good deal at $2.99 (for 10 oz package). For the two of us, the container made 2 medium sized portions for a side dish. If you add things, it can become a dinner or main dish. We ate this with our dinner of potsticker dumplings. These two were a great combo together! We enjoyed the dumplings with this side dish of noodles with a bit of Kimchi too.

Carrots and red and green bell peppers round out the dish. Drizzle some more toasted sesame oil on just before serving if you have it. This dish is not spicy. Add something if you want it spicy. One can “beef up” the dish just by adding additional things: protein, more veggies. For example we put fried eggs on top which was a terrific addition. Top each portion with a fried egg, or you could make soft scrambled eggs and mix them into the noodles when they are ready to serve. You could also add in some BAKED TOFU or serve it on the side with this. So you can easily take this package of JAPCHAE and use it as the base for making a bigger fuller meal out of it. Add in to the noodles (or top when serving): cooked ground beef or ground turkey or pork, grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon or what have you. You can add more vegetables, too! Mushrooms, spinach, green beans…. Add stuff to this and you will have a delicious easy dinner for two, for way less than takeout. We liked TJ’s Jap Chae alot and will definitely buy this again.

One side note though: it does have a pretty high SODIUM CONTENT. If you eat this whole container yourself, note that you are getting a lot of Sodium (1120 mg) or almost half of the daily recommended level (2300 mg). Eating 1/2 the container as a serving brings the Sodium down to (560 mg) 24% of the recommended level, clearly much better for you. Always take a look the Sodium levels on any prepared / packaged food as many foods, can skew pretty high especially some Asian dishes. Get into the habit of checking the Nutrition labels when buying prepared foods, especially as it regards salt, something Americans eat generally way too much of.

TJ’s CERTIFIED ORGANIC THAI JASMINE RICE


New Products: Trader Joe’s ORGANIC JASMINE RICE

Thai Jasmine Rice is wonderful, one of the tastiest kinds of rice varieties out there, alongside Indian Basmati. TJ’s has had regular Jasmine rice for a long time, and that one too is quite good. Recently however they introduced an Organic version if that interests you. The package states it’s CERTIFIED ORGANIC and “Product of Thailand”. Importantly, TJ finally has cooking directions and ratios on the package which seem correct (I have found some printed directions on rice are way off!) On this package they list using a 1:2 ratio, meaning 1 cup rice to 2 cups water and cooking the rice for 15-20 minutes. This is a good starting point for you to use. Now I rinse Jasmine rice very minimally, maybe just once instead of the standard 2-3 time as I want to preserve as much of that jasmine aroma as possible. It’s organic and as far as I can tell, quite clean, you don’t have to go overboard washing this and washing out some flavor. Washing rice these days is mostly about removing excess starch anyway, not cleaning it of debris. Make sure you drain the rice for 10 minutes too in a colander to keep your rice/water ratio on point. If you find your rice too mushy then next time reduce the water slightly. Let it sit too after cooking for 10 minutes. ORGANIC JASMINE RICE $3.49 (2 lb bag)

DIRECTIONS: Bring two cups of water to a boil in a pot with a very tight lid. Add a little salt. Add 1 cup of rinsed, drained rice. Cook 10 mins on medium heat, then reduce heat to the lowest possible heat and continue cooking for 5-8 minutes. Then turn off heat and let it sit for 5-10 minutes with the lid closed. Fluff rice and optionally add a little butter.

BTW where do you store rice? I have taken to keeping it in the fridge if there’s space – otherwise in a dark cool pantry in a zip lock bag.

Trader Joe’s CHICKEN / PORK GYOZA DUMPLINGS


Chicken and Vegetable OR Pork and Veg. Gyoza Pot Sticker Dumplings – Perfect for now (currently Chinese Lunar New Year) or anytime of course.

Chinese dumplings are one of my very favorite things to eat. Seriously. Over my lifetime I would not be surprised if I’ve eaten a thousand of them, in one small hole in the wall place or another, mostly in Manhattan’s Chinatown or Flushing’s. Flushing especially has become a destination for dumplings with terrific places that specialize in dumplings of all kinds. I’ve even learned how to make dumplings myself, from scratch, including at times even making the wrappers! (I usually buy them in an Asian market). However that’s too much for most people. Which is where these babies come in. When you just get a craving for Pot Stickers, you can buy these frozen Gyoza Pot Stickers that TJ carries in their frozen Asian section. They’re good! They’re cheap. $3 bucks a bag. Wow.

Now I am not going to say that these dumplings can measure up against my favorites dumpling joints. Never the less the fact is I buy these bags of dumplings all the time to have on hand in the freezer for whenever I get a dumping craving and don’t want to leave the house (which let’s face it is all the time right now in the middle of Covid-19!)

These TJ bagged dumpling are not at all bad for what they are, they are super convenient, and frankly at $3 a bag (about 21 dumplings) they are a steal. TJ sells both a Pork & Veg version and this Chicken & Veg version which I am reviewing here. As the pork one is not “porky” enough for me (I can make a decent pork and cabbage dumpling) personally I give a slight edge to the chicken ones surprisingly, as of course pork dumplings are way more typical dumplings. Buy a bag of both and see which you prefer. They’re both good. Now the stuffing of both versions are too finely ground up for my personal dumpling preferences. In any handmade dumpling you would usually be able to see chopped up vegetables which one can’t in either the pork or chicken dumplings.

These are a tiny bit on the blandish side but a good dipping sauce can really make up for that with some nice Asian flavors in it. My first choice is to make these in a pan as Gyoza or Pot Stickers. Pot Stickers refers to first frying the bottoms, and then adding liquid to steam them, giving one the best of both worlds texture-wise in a single bite, with the wrapper both a bit crispy/chewy plus soft. The skins on these TJ dumplings are neither too thick nor too thin but acceptable in proportion to the filling. If I make them myself they would have thicker skins, be bigger and more packed with filling. But these do fine in a pinch. I have never tried cooking these in a microwave though the package states you can make them that way. Nor have I tried making boiled dumplings with these, as also suggested on the bag. If you did boil them in a strong flavorful chicken broth they might be very good that way, especially with some spinach, kale or other leafy vegetables, i.e., a “chicken soup with wontons and greens” type soup (hmm, i just gave myself an idea to try out!)

PAN FRYING YOUR DUMPLINGS: One can boil these but personally I make these mostly as Pot Stickers or Gyoza using a well-seasoned black cast iron pan. If you don’t have one of those just use a good non-stick pan. Swirl a tablespoon or 2 of neutral vegetable oil in the pan with medium heat. Put your frozen dumplings in bottoms down, careful they don’t touch each other or they will stick together. You will hear them start to sizzle in a bit. Let them cook without touching them till they are nice golden brown on the bottom, maybe 4-5 minutes…You can check one every once in a while. You don’t want to burn them however you do want very browned bottoms, Well I do! When they are browned, toss about 3-4 tablespoons of water (or stock) into the pan and immediately put a cover on! Stand back of course as they may spit or really steam up at you. Lower the heat a little. If you have a clear glass cover that’s ideal so you can see whats going on inside but if you don’t, any cover that fits tightly will be fine. We want to let them steam until the water is just about all gone which may take about 6-8 minutes. Check when you think they are done. When they are almost ready if you put a tiny bit more oil when the water is all gone and let them keep cooking they can get a quite crispy bottom which is lovely, but this step is tricky, and optional. Anyway this is the reason these dumpling are called “pot stickers” as they do tend to stick to the pan and not want to leave it! If they are a bit stuck use a thin spatula to gently help release them, being careful not to tear the skins.

You should to eat your Gyoza right away while they are nice and hot, so timing is critical. What we do, is we get everything ready, then take just 2 or 3 dumplings at a time on our plates, cover the pan with the heat off to keep them warm and come back to fill up with a few more when we finished the first ones. That way you always eat warm dumplings. In the first picture you can see I served them with edamame and peas which were a great match with these dumplings to add in more veggies. You can serve them with a little rice too and any kind of veggie or salad. We can usually eat about 6 each easily as the Main, along with other stuff though they can be just an appetizer of say 3 or 4 each. I strongly suggest eating lots of green veggies with these. Edamame go great. If you can get Bok Choy or Choi Sum, that would certainly go well. And toss lots of chopped scallions all over these when you serve them.

Many countries have some variation of pot sticker dumplings. In Korea, “Mandoo“. In Japan they are called “Gyoza“. In China, Jiao-zi or Guo-tie.

锅贴 
Goutié

https://www.tasteatlas.com/guotie/recipe

You always eat dumplings with a dipping sauce. One classic sauce might be Chinese Black Vinegar* with lots of julienned ginger. Or soy sauce plus vinegar, sugar, ginger and garlic. TJ sells a bottle of “GYOZA DIPPING SAUCE” which is fine if making your own sauce is too much trouble. I frequently use TJ’s diping sauce and add just add a few things to it (like Lao Gan Ma, chili sauce) If you like fresh cilantro it’s wonderful with dumplings. Something spicy to add a kick if spicy is your thing, like me. Green Dragon hot sauce for example is great with these! TJ’s Sweet Chili sauce is also lovely! I mean a bit mixed into your dipping sauce.

While I can’t say these TJ frozen dumplings compete with the best Chinese homemade dumpling places I have gone to, these are quite decent and make up a great deal with the convenience of being able to have them anytime you get a craving! These bagged ones are such a bargain for $2.99 a bag (UPDATE: now $3.49). TJ has a number of other “fancier” dumplings in the frozen section in boxes which cost a bit more but frankly I keep coming back to these cheaper bagged versions. I tried TJ’s Pork and Ginger Soup Dumplings and frankly was not impressed. Not surprising as making Xiao Long Bao is a pinnacle of the art of dumpling making. I’ve eaten them at some top dumpling restaurants like Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao in Flushing, Queens (fantastic! go if you get a chance).

  • Chinkiang Black Vinegar can be found at most Chinese or Asian groceries (5-6 dollars?) If you can’t find it and don’t mind paying through the nose Amazon sells it. It’s a classic, pantry item.

SIDEBAR: In New York City if you want terrific pan fried or boiled dumplings I check out VANESSA’S DUMPLING HOUSE which I first enjoyed 20 years ago in her original tiny hole in the wall joint on Eldridge Street where no more than 4 people could fit. Her product was fantastic and word grew about her amazing dumplings which went back then for the amazing price of 5 for $1! Vanessa’s business grew and she became a very successful immigrant entrepreneur who kept expanding and improving and now has multiple beautiful places. If you eat her pot stickers or any of her many kinds of dumplings you will learn what really good dumplings taste like. They do cost more though now! Finally, if you really are interested in learning more and maybe trying your own hand to make dumplings you will find lots of great info here

https://carlsbadcravings.com/potstickers/

and if you are REALLY inspired, make these yourselves!

VEGETARIANS – TJ does have vegetable dumplings too ! (boxed, frozen)

TJ’s TANDOORI NAAN (frozen)


I really enjoy the Naan Indian breads that TJ carries. These frozen Naan breads are tasty and super convenient, only requiring warming up. They are “handmade in India”. A package of 4 Naan is just $1.99, wow! TJ sells two frozen versions, this plain Tandoori Naan and a Garlic Tandoori Naan version which includes garlic and cilantro. I buy a pack of each kind to keep in the freezer. They’re both really convenient and quite good.

Naan breads can be used for so many things. Of course these flat-breads go great with any of TJ’s pretty numerous Indian food offerings but Naan can be used anywhere a flatbread type bread would be good… with saucy foods, soups, etc. Bake these with cheese on top, or some ham or prosciutto, and you have a terrific easy creation. Pizza with sauce? Sure, I’ve done them that way*. Your imagination is the limit on what you can do with these.

To heat them you can throw these into a regular or toaster oven, or sometimes just throw them in a cast iron pan. Hit them with some olive oil or butter or ghee and they become even more tasty and a little crispier. I sometimes add butter and fresh crushed garlic and these are fab. Or just buy the excellent Garlic Naan version if you don’t want to smash your own fresh garlic. The Garlic Naan ones are really flavorful with some green stuff (cilantro or scallions).

So with your next TJ Indian feast, grab some Naan while you’re at it. A package of maybe TJ’s frozen Channa Masala ($2.29 and delicious) or foil pack of Tadka Dal ($1.99) plus some Naan and some tomato and you have a dinner in 3 minutes for a few bucks that is as good some takeout. I even made my own Tadka Dal and ate it with this Naan. Since I had extra dal, I gave some and 2 naan to my upstairs neighbors who thanked me profusely and told me they devoured it in minutes and that it was as good as an Indian restaurant.

TJ also sells some non-frozen Naan breads in the fresh Bread section. These Naan however cost more, they’re bigger and thicker.

  • You can make these in pizzas using Naan as your base. These naan are kind of thin so if you want a bit thicker base, get the fresh Naan version TJ carries in the fresh breads section. Though they sell a Pizza base there too!

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Trader Joe’s SHELLED EDAMAME


Trader Joe’s sells two versions of EDAMAME (Soy Beans), shelled and unshelled, in the pod.

Both kinds are excellent, tasty and super healthy veggies for you to add to your menu if they are not already on it. Maybe you first encountered Edamame in a Japanese restaurant when they put a bowl of fuzzy large pods on the table? Someone told you to nibble on them and and suck out the beans in the shells. Served this way these are very typical “bar snacks” in Japan in a restaurant or Izakaya (pub). Edamame are good for you of course, as well as very being quite DELICIOUS. They have a taste a bit like peas but nuttier and earthier. I like them both versions, in the shell and out of the shell, so I usually buy a bag of both. As a side dish you can’t go wrong with Edamame with a pinch of salt and some butter. Yummy!

TJ’s frozen Shelled Edamame are convenient, as you don’t have to peel them of course if you just want the beans. Useful as a side dish, the same way you would serve some peas, or for adding to a dish, such as a rice dish*, again exactly as one might add green peas. When I add edamame, say to rice in the last 3 minutes, I don’t cook them first as the bag suggests (they are already cooked in fact). I just put them in a colander, rinse them till they are no longer frozen and then toss them in the pot of rice (or whatever) for maybe 3-4 minutes. Or use them, as an addition to your favorite recipe. Soy Beans contain Lots of protein (9 gr in a half a cup!), lots of fiber, vitamins and basically everything that is Soy Good for you. Maybe one of the healthiest things you can eat. A 12 oz. bag of the shelled version is $1.99 which is less than in a Asian specialty store where you normally find these goodies. And about $1.69 (1 lb) in the shell, which are of course great to serve people to nibble on and suck out of the shells in the traditional style. Maybe the kids would like those, as they are very hands on, play with your food.

  • More:

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-edamame-3376830

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Trader Joe’s GREEN DRAGON HOT SAUCE


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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).

TJ Soy Ginger Marinated WILD COD FILLETS


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I picked up a package of Trader Joe’s “Wild Soy Ginger Marinated Cod Fillets” in the Frozen section at TJ’s to try. I was quite satisfied, this dish turned out to be really  good. This marinated cod costs about $7/lb. – very much on the lower price end for almost any fish these days, and this is wild caught cod from the Atlantic, so another good find at TJs.

This cod is  tasty, and easy-peasy to make. I followed instructions on the package about defrosting them overnight in the fridge. An overnight thaw in the fridge is always the best method for defrosting as thawing slowly is best to preserve the original quality. So just remember you need to think about this the day/night before if at all possible. If after an overnight thaw, you find its not completely defrosted when you are ready to cook you can put it in the sink in a pot and run a stream of cold water over the unopened package for 5-15 minutes till it feels completely defrosted. I didn’t try the method on the package where they say you can defrost in a bowl of warm water, in fact I would completely say never use warm water, its too fast and damages cell structure. If  you really need to do a “quick defrost” again run a stream of cold water on it till defrosted (again, “emergency only” method). A fish monger told me to do it with cold running water.

On the package they suggest 3 methods to cook the cod – in a skillet, bake it or microwave it. Me, I decided I would cook the miso cod by broiling the fish and glazing them with the marinade. Broiling is a typical Japanese method of cooking. I took the fillets out of the package with tongs careful to reserve all the marinade for later use. I placed the drained defrosted fillets in a black cast iron pan (my favorite cooking utensil), dotted them with a little butter and put the pan under a very hot (pre-heated) broiler. The fillets were not thick. One was a little bit thicker. So I cooked the fillets for about 3 minutes then took the pan out of the oven so I could pour over that reserved marinade over the fillets. Aha! The reserved marinade will make you a very nice soy miso glaze. So I immediately put the pan back under the broiler to finish for about just another minute or two, keeping a close eye on the fish and the glaze which was all bubbly and browning up. As you can see the glaze browns up beautifully, thickens, to make a nice sauce for the fish, and obviously keeps the fish moist and not dried out. You can even put another little bit of butter in the pan and hit the fish with freshly ground pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. I forgot to mention I threw in some frozen shelled Edame (soy beans) around the fish to cook with it. The edamame were a perfect match with the fish, along with some some rice. There’s a Japanese meal for you.

We really enjoyed this. Sometimes cod fish can be a bit boring but this miso / soy marinade treatment makes this product very good. You can hit it if you like with even more freshly grated ginger (I generally do).

To sum up I found TJ’s Soy Ginger Marinated Wild Cod Fillets to be super convenient, easy to make, and really tasty. I would buy it again, and in fact have a few times since I first tried this. This is becoming a Go-To item for me at TJ now and I usually have a package in our freezer.

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TJ’s AHI TUNA


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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.

Trader Joe’s SWEET CHILI SAUCE


RAVE

Apparently this is one of Trader Joe’s most popular products, and not without reason. I know it’s one of my favorite TJ products, on my “gotta always have in fridge” list. As the name says, this is a delicious sweet chili sauce that is pretty much the same traditional Asian sweet and spicy chili sauce you will find at any Asian grocery. It’s both sweet and spicy but not crazy spicy, with a perfect balance of the two tastes plus garlic of course. This sauce is typically served with chicken in many Asian cuisines. I had been buying Chinese brands of this stuff for years whenever I went to a special Asian grocery or supermarket but now Trader Joe’s make a version of it so even more convenient, as we put this sauce on many things though its terrific with most any chicken. If you bought a store cooked rotisserie chicken for dinner, serving with this sauce will that roast chicken 10x as tasty. What else can you use it for. Really anything… Chicken sausages? Yes. Fish? Yes (in fact you can put some on top of almost finished broiled salmon and put it back for a minute for a sweet spicy glaze). Grilled pork. Sure! Eggs? Yes. Get it? Seriously I think there is little this would not be good on, except may ice cream.

Easy dipping sauce for dumplings: a 2 tablespoons of this sweet chili sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a little rice vinegar. Fresh grated ginger if you have it. Easy. Some extra garlic wouldn’t hurt either. Now you have a sauce for all those pot sticker dumplings in the freezer. Dinner in 10 minutes.

A bottle used to sell for only $1.29. Last time I checked it went up to $1.49, not bad. I can’t live without this stuff.

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