Trader Joe’s LIGHTLY SMOKED SALMON (can)


THIS IS A TERRIFIC NEW ITEM – “Boneless, skinless salmon that has been gently smoked with Applewood”

(One portion contains a whopping 21 grams of protein!)

RAVE

Trader Joe’s recently came out with this item they call “Lightly Smoked Salmon“. Find it with the cans of tuna, sardines, and at least two other types of canned salmon they sell. I was intrigued when I first saw it, even a bit confused by the name. Huh? “Lightly Smoked Salmon”? In a can!? Having tried it, all I can say is it’s a terrific new product. I think Trader Joe’s has a major hit with this. However the name is a bit off. Tasting it I didn’t think “lightly smoked salmon” at all, and it doesn’t taste like what you and I think of when we see “smoked salmon”. Tasting it for the first time I simply thought: “this must be the best canned salmon I’ve ever tasted”. Like some GOURMET STUFF! In fact it made me think of those deluxe gourmet tins of fish like high end canned tuna from Spain (Ortiz for example) which can sell for $15.

To me, this Lightly Smoked Salmon is “salmon poached in extra virgin olive oil” (You know, like lobster poached in butter?) When you open the can you find an appetizing hunk of pure center cut salmon without skin or bones (so zero waste). It’s swimming in an orangish olive oil (the color came from the salmon). Because of this, the salmon is so moist and flaky! It’s got a delicious flavor and texture from being cooked in some decent extra virgin olive oil. As far as the “Applewood smoke flavor” well, I would say that is so “light” as to be just at most an under-note? Frankly I barely taste that. First and foremost I taste really tasty salmon. It was so tasty frankly I couldn’t stop trying it. I kept saying to myself, “just one more little taste” and shortly noticed the can was nearly empty. It’s that good, people. That golden EVOO it’s packed in? I tell you, do not get rid of this golden juice the way one pours off the oil in tuna. Here the liquid juices plus the EVOO together make for a delicious yummy sauce. Its decent Extra Virgin Olive Oil imbued with salmon flavor as it was the poaching liquid. I just spooned it over the fish with a squeeze of lemon and voila, a delicious sauce for this lovely fish.

You can use this salmon exactly like a piece of poached salmon. You could just open up the can and put the salmon on a plate – or on top of a salad or greens, or to top a protein bowl, or into an avocado or what have you – and have a lovely, delicious (and healthy) dinner or lunch with almost no effort. This salmon is wonderful as-is right out of the can. Try it on a toasted bagel, on toast, or on crackers. Or on CRISPBREAD for a Scandinavian open faced sandwich (very good match).

On Trader Joe’s Norwegian Crispbread with cream cheese and cucumbers

Mix a bit of mayo and lemon juice into the salmon and have great salmon salad in a minute. This salmon is perfect, especially for summer and/or whenever you don’t feel like cooking. The other night I didn’t feel like cooking anything but I found I had a nice ripe avocado I needed to use. I mixed a can of this salmon with a little mayo, lemon juice and some Peri-Peri sauce …. voila! I ate this lovely avocado stuffed with salmon salad for dinner, which took me less than 5 minutes.

One serving contains 190 calories plus you get a whopping 21 grams of protein. Product of Chile. The 5 oz can has about 3.5 oz of drained salmon and sells for $3.69. This is a great pantry item. I would gladly buy it again.

RECIPE IDEA – Japanese Salmon Rice Bowl: Put warm fresh rice in a bowl. Top with this salmon flaked up. Sprinkle on a nice amount of Furikake seaweed blend and chopped scallion. Optional: a sprinkle of Soy Sauce with a sprinkle of Toasted Sesame Oil. Mix gently. YUM.

One might even get extra cans of this salmon and put it away for a year or two to improve with age like wine*….

*Spain and Portugal have places which specialize serving tinned fish and seafood, aged for a year or two or three… Believe it or not the canned fish actually improves as it ages just like wine. Here’s a video of the late great Tony Bourdain visiting one of these bodegas in Spain, eating from cans of seafood and loving every bite…. EL ESPINALER

Trader Joe’s ATLANTIC SALMON FILLETS (frozen)


(Product of Norway, Farm Raised)

Each 1 lb package contains 4 x 4 oz. portions of boneless Norwegian farmed Atlantic salmon, perfectly flash frozen. So first things first, DEFROSTING: The best method to defrost anything is always an overnight thaw in the fridge. In a pinch however you could do the quick thaw method written on the package (bagged, in cold water 30 minutes) however try to think ahead if you can for the best texture . Obviously if you are not using it all, just seal the package back up for the freezer with the nice built- in air lock of the package being sure to squeeze out excess air.

COOKING : I tried the quick brine technique of giving the defrosted salmon fillets a 30 minute soak in brine and I liked the results (see link below for full info at The Kitchn)

https://www.thekitchn.com/best-salmon-cooking-method-skills-showdown-23004976

After drying off the salmon, I gave it seasoning on both sides with a nice sprinkle of AJIKA which will give great color as well as flavor (in my case as it was brined, I added no more salt). I cooked the fillets using the pan fry method in a cast iron pan (or use a non stick pan) in a mix of oil and butter for about 5 minutes on the skin side first till the skin looked crispy. Flipped them, then cooked about 2 minutes on the second side which needs less time than the first. Personally I hate overcooked fish. Don’t overcook it. Cook fish just till it’s no longer translucent and flakes easily with a fork. You can always put it back for 30 seconds if it needs it.

If you want to serve with a sauce, TJ’s tzaziki sauce would be very good with this salmon. Or Greek yogurt mixed with lemon juice, or tartar sauce. Even simple lemon juice and butter is great. Fresh dill is wonderful with salmon. This time I plated the salmon up with some lemon butter, and served it with a side of TJ’s Harvest Grain Blend (shown) which is perfect with this. The salmon was tasty, if a bit mild of course as this is farmed. Wild salmon, which I love is usually about double the price of this. Trader Joe’s sells this for $8.99 for a 1 lb package (a bit little over $2 a portion). For the price I think this salmon is very tasty and a good value. I find Trader Joe’s version, superior to Costco’s version. So giving this a thumb’s up for value and quality. INGREDIENTS: Atlantic Salmon (no added salt) Protein = 23 grams! EAT FISH

(note: price has increased)

Don’t feel like cooking but want some good salmon? Check out Trader Joe’s new product, LIGHTLY SMOKED SALMON . Gourmet quality.

TJ’s (fresh) SALMON BURGERS


“Made with Norwegian farm raised salmon” Bake, pan fry or broil. Ingredients – Salmon, parmesan cheese, panko breadcrumbs.

Trader Joe’s uncooked SALMON BURGERS are in the fresh fish refrigerated section. They come packaged on a tray with vacuum wrapped plastic tightly covering the two burgers. Made from ground salmon, these burger are quite soft. So soft that removing them from the package was tricky without breaking them. I ended up carefully cutting around the plastic wrap with a sharp knife. They kind of wanted to fall apart on me just trying to get them out, so I ended up sliding a spatula under each one to lift it out intact. So be careful, lest they fall apart. Frankly if this was my recipe I would have put egg in the mixture with a bit more binder so they would stay together better (bread crumbs / panko….hmm, that may not be a bad idea, I may do exactly that next time and re-shape them.) I am guessing TJ’s wants you to know they are mostly all salmon with little binder, however in this type of burger made from ground fish, the binder in reality help keep things together.

“Cook 4-5 minutes, flip and cook another 4 minutes or to desired done-ness.”

I cooked these pan fried in a tablespoon of butter, first dusting them with some more panko breadcrumbs. I found these a bit under seasoned so I would give them a hit of salt and pepper. I could not taste Parmesan cheese though it’s listed as an ingredient, probably as a binder.

We ate these salmon burger patties on a toasted hamburger bun. They were good. I put some Tzaziki sauce on them but realized what I should have actually used: TJ’s Tartar Sauce – Of course that would match with these! I will get some next time. These were good on a bun but they might be equally good without the bread just served on their own with some sauce and some sides (rice, potatoes, veggies…). They really do need a bit of some sauce to liven them up, and TJ’s tartar sauce should match perfectly with these.

Two salmon patties are $6.29, or about 3 each. I would buy these again. SHOPPING suggestions: Salmon burgers, buns, tartar sauce, lemons, soft greens for garnish. Maybe your fish-hating kids will eat it if you disguise it as a burger!?

UPDATE (FALL/WINTER ’21) I have not been able to find these for some time so I am afraid they are discontinued. Anyone seen them ? Can you still buy them? TJ’s does sell frozen salmon burgers.

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.

RAVE

 

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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.