Trader Joe’s CEDAR WRAPPED BBQ SALMON FILLET


(Frozen) Trader Joe’s came up with an interesting creation: CEDAR WRAPPED BBQ SOCKEYE SALMON. The frozen package contains a boneless filet of (wild) Sockeye Salmon, seasoned and wrapped up in a very thin piece of cedar wood which is pretty cool. This is inspired by the traditional Pacific Northwest Native American way of cooking salmon, nailing a side to a cedar plank and cooking them vertically around a fire. Something like this…

Cooked BBQ Sockeye Salmon

Trader Joe’s version is a pretty good deal for $4.99 and worth trying. I made a piece for dinner and found the cooked salmon to be really tasty.

Cooking: Though the package has instructions for 2 ways, in the oven or on an outdoor grill, I didn’t want to heat up my oven and the kitchen on a pretty hot day. So I decided to just grill it on in my cast iron pan on the stove. I didn’t cook this fish from frozen like it says to do either. I defrosted the fish prior to cooking it (just placed the sealed package under running water for 10 minutes which worked ok). Inside the plastic package the salmon is wrapped in a thin piece of cedar and tied. I grilled it with the cedar side / bottom down for about 4-5 minutes (again it was not frozen, if it was they say takes 25 minutes in the oven). When the bottom was done I flipped it and grilled the top side for about 2-3 minutes. You could put in foil as they suggest, which is the French “en papilotte” method of making a moist environment. Sockeye salmon is different than what you may be used to when you think of salmon, meaning the usual Atlantic salmon, typically farmed. Wild Sockeye salmon has a more dense and meaty texture and has very dark red flesh as it is a wild fish. This sockeye salmon cooked up well and tasted nice with TJ’s not too overpowering bbq seasoning. Plus the cedar flavor was subtle and tasty and the fish had a nice moist texture. One piece makes a decent portion for one. The skin on the bottom stuck to the cedar plank and kept it moist. I just served it with just a sprinkle of lemon. It might be quite nice with a little sauce on the side too (some lemon and Greek yogurt with a touch of Zhoug?). The Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend was a good match for this as a side dish. That is a staple for me.

THE NUTRITION LABELS STATES YOU GET A WHOPPING 32 GRAMS OF PROTEIN !

Worth trying. I would buy this again.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/cedar-wrapped-bbq-sockeye-salmon-fillet-064671

TRADER JOE’S SAYS : “Our Cedar Wrapped Sockeye Salmon is rubbed with seasonings including smoked sea salt and chipotle powder to yield a balanced, smoky, mildly spicy, distinctly cedar-y Fillet. And, in addition to imparting flavor, that cedar wrap also ensures a super moist result—no matter whether you bake it or grill it!”

PS – you know those pictures of bears catching salmon jumping upstream? They are probably these Sockeye Salmon.

TJ’s ARGENTINIAN RED SHRIMP with Ginger Garlic Butter & Togarashi Seasoning


(defrosted)

This is the wild same Argentinian Red Shrimp TJ’s has but packaged up with seasoned butter for a ready-to-cook meal. Convenient, yes, but naturally you pay extra for said convenience. We made this and the finished dish with the sauce was very tasty, but honestly nothing I could not have done with maybe 5 minutes of little effort. This pack is $8 for a 9 oz portion which cooked, makes for two meager portions for 2 as a dinner. To make this into a full meal (for two) I served the shrimp with a few sides plus a salad and a little French bread. Follow the instructions on the package which are to thaw overnight in the fridge. After defrosting I used a thin knife to get it out of the package (actually a bit tricky) and tossed the whole mess into a hot nonstick pan with a little (extra) butter. These Red Shrimp cook fast – they will be done in about 1 1/2 minutes – so be careful not to overcook them if you want the shrimp to stay plump and juicy.

Frankly if you want to get more bang for your buck it’s easy to just buy a pound of shrimp and make a similar sauce. Buy the bag of frozen WILD RED ARGENTINIAN SHRIMP ($10.99) and just add some butter and seasonings. This package is convenient but not great value and its so easy to make shrimp and add a few things. Personally I probably won’t buy this again, I’ll just do it myself. Your call.

Need a recipe for a sauce? Here you go:

GINGER/GARLIC BUTTER SAUCE: Grate or finely chop 1/2″ of fresh ginger and 2-3 cloves of garlic (optional: a little grated fresh lemon peel too); Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in a hot non-stick pan; Toss the garlic and ginger into. Sauté 30 seconds, then toss in your (defrosted) shrimp and cook tossing them for about 60-90 seconds just until the shrimp turn opaque (max, 2 minutes lest they will shrink up). As soon as they are opaque and pink. add the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Optional: if you like spice, add a small spoon of BOMBA or your favorite something spicy to taste. Add a pinch salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions. Serve with rice and/or crusty bread to mop up the tasty sauce.

Cooked (I garnished with scallions)

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/honey-aleppo-shrimp

(NB: TJ’s recipe says cook the shrimp for 5-10; just ignore that unless you want really overcooked shrimp! Cook no more than 2 minutes)

Trader Joe’s BREADED FRIED RAVIOLI


RAVE

Breaded deep fried ravioli? Doesn’t that sound a bit over the top? Still when I saw these, I was intrigued and thought I would give them a try. Well I have to say they are quite good, better than I expected them to be. First I should say we almost always try to “eat healthy”. I rarely eat fried anything. So frankly deep fried breaded ravioli is not something I normally eat or buy on a regular basis but hey this is the job, and reviews have to be done 😉

Having now tried them, I can tell you these fried ravioli are actually pretty yummy. The two of us totally enjoyed eating these, as a rare treat. I could see these as something you could serve once in a blue moon in small portions, say 4 or 5 ravioli, as a side or as an appetizer? They might be even be a tasty and easy treat to serve up as an hors d’oeuvre for company. One recommended method to make these is to Pan Fry them which is what I did. I used less than a tablespoon of olive oil, where as the directions say, oil a 1/4 inch deep. I don’t think you need more than a tablespoon or two of oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan. TJ’s says they are good done in an air fryer too. Once the ravioli looked crispy and golden brown, I drained them on a paper towel. The breaded ravioli were delicious, a little crispy on the outside and when you bite into them, full of soft melted cheese inside (5 kinds of cheese). Naturally these will be perfect with a bit of your favorite tomato sauce (fresh basil if you have), and they were delicious when I served them with some sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. So give these a try if they sound good to you. A package (1 lb) is $3.99. They can be found in the frozen section…. Trader Joe’s says…

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/breaded-fried-ravioli-066183

“Each Breaded Fried Ravioli starts as a stately square of semolina pasta, filled with a mouth-watering mix of five kinds of cheese: creamy ricotta, mild Monterey Jack, rich mozzarella, savory Asiago, and piquant Parmesan. These Ravioli are then battered and deep fried to perfection, then flash frozen for you to finish the job at home. Once prepared (we find an air fryer to be particularly suited for the job), they’re everything a cheesy appetizer should be: warm, gooey, and phenomenally cheesy, with a crispy, savory exterior—a little like a breaded mozzarella stick, taken to the next level.”

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.

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 Italian Style Meatballs


Trader Griotto’s (frozen) Flame Broiled Italian Style Fully Cooked Meatballs

First, let us be realistic. Are these Trader Joe’s frozen meatballs anywhere as good as my own homemade ones (which in all modesty are pretty good?) Of course not. However, making meatballs is kind of a lot of work. So I wanted to try these Trader Joe’s all beef “Meatballs Italian Style” to see if they are any good. We did enjoy actually them with my own tomato sauce for a pretty easy dinner. So these might be worth giving them a try to see what you think. The dish I made with these turned out tasty. I made an easy quick sauce: olive oil, garlic, onion, tablespoon of tomato paste, can of diced tomatoes, grated pecorino cheese and basil – a recipe is below). Of course you can just use a bottle of sauce you lazy bones, that’s fine. I put the meatballs in the sauce and simmered them for 30 minutes to hopefully get them flavored with the sauce. They turned out pretty well, my main complaint being they had a slightly rubbery texture. Honestly I don’t know if they always do or it was my fault defrosting them (or not). I would usually thaw something like this in the fridge overnight as I always recommend, but this was a last minute dinner idea and I thought maybe I could just put the frozen meatballs into the sauce and slowly defrost them on low in the sauce (which the package does kind of say). Is that why they came out a bit rubbery? Next time I’ll defrost them slowly and see. Anyway I served the meatballs and sauce and some of TJ’s fantastic Country Loaf bread I had found. We did kind of a “meatball sub” with these which was actually pretty tasty. A few night’s later, I made Ziti with the leftover meatballs & sauce – also tasty. So my take is these are worth giving a try, either with your own sauce or your favorite TJ’s sauce. I do suggest doing a proper defrost (thaw in fridge night before). Also I will brown up the thawed meatballs even more in olive oil before adding to sauce. Browning meat gives lots of flavor. I recommend you simmer these in sauce for at least a 1/2 hour to absorb flavors. These ITALIAN MEATBALLS were about $4.50 for a 1 lb bag. FYI , TJ sells other versions, one made with Turkey and one Meatless, all of which you will find in the frozen section near these.

FAST EASY TOMATO SAUCE and MEATBALLS: Take 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and sauté that in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 30-60 seconds. Add a good amount of sliced garlic and a little diced onion and cook 5 minutes on low stirring occasionally till onions are translucent. Add a can (or two) of Diced Tomato, rinsing out the can with a little water (or wine) to get it all. Simmer on low 45 minutes, with the thawed and browned meatballs. Add Italian Seasoning to taste. Optionally add capers, and some Bomba. When serving, add grated Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago or Grana and if you have some fresh basil, lovely. Serve with either pasta, gnocchi, or warm fresh Italian bread for a meatball hero.

Despite all these options they list I think the best one would be the thaw in fridge (1/2 day?)

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)

Trader Joe’s ARGENTINIAN RED SHRIMP


“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…” (Wild, Raw, Peeled, Cleaned and Deveined Frozen Shrimp)

RAVE

Trader Joe’s frozen Argentinian Red Shrimp are quite good, both very tasty and very convenient. I buy these regularly as trying them once I found them to be good value (*editors note: price increased a bit since I wrote this). If you are at Trader Joe’s looking for shrimp, this is the best one they sell by a mile.

These frozen red shrimp are large, meaty and actually do have a sweet “lobster-y” flavor and texture. A big plus is they are Wild caught. Wild shrimp are said to have better flavor than farmed. These Argentinian Red Shrimp are fished in the icy waters off Argentina’s coast in Patagonia. They’re quickly individually flash frozen, all cleaned and ready to use. They’re a decent size (20/25 count aka “Large”). Called “the sweetest shrimp in the world”… well even if some marketer came up with that, they actually do taste sweet and yes even have a “lobster-y” taste and texture. (If you are interested in learning more about them here’s detailed info about “Patagonian Red Shrimp”) Use these Red Shrimp the same as any other shrimp. If I’m not using the whole package I just take out as many as I need, then close it up super tight with a twisty, then double bag that inside a Ziplock freezer bag to keep them fresh as possible. So first things first, best defrosting method(s).

DEFROSTING : The best way is the traditional overnight thaw in the fridge in a covered bowl. If you didn’t plan ahead the next best option is put them in a bag, and submerge it in a bowl under a light stream of cold running water (weight down with a plate). They should be defrosted in 20 minutes. The last method works OK in a pinch – I’ve simply put the frozen shrimp in a bowl, covered them with an inch of very cold water, and stirred them every 5 minutes or so, which should take maybe 30 mins. I would not cook them from frozen! They will shrink a lot and lose a lot of juice. Nor personally would I nuke them to defrost them.

Cooking: Cook them as you normally cook any shrimp. However these do cook a wee bit faster. Be careful not to overcook them. If you are say using a sauce, you can simmer the (defrosted) shrimp slowly in the sauce at the very end cooking them in the sauce for maybe 2 minutes (turning them over once). As soon as they are no longer translucent and look firm these are cooked, and/or at least should be removed and then added back to your dish at the end. Not over cooking will keep them plumper and juicier. When you overcook shrimp they become chewier and shrink up.

TIP: If grilling them, you can marinate them for 15 min in lots of TJ’s CUBAN SPICE BLEND. Or any spices of your choosing. Ajika blend also is terrific as is TJ’s Peri-Peri Sauce. These shrimp are terrific simply sautéed in olive oil with lots of garlic, scampi style. You can blot them with a paper towel, optionally sprinkle them with a little seasoned flour and sauté them in oil and butter. One trick I saw on MilkStreet recently was to pan fry shrimp on one side only, then take them out of the pan and finish them in your dish for 30 seconds at the end. This is a great idea. These shrimp are of course great grilled / sautéed and used in a pasta dish. You can put them on a skewer and broil or grill them (oil them). They are equally great gently poached 3 minutes, which is a good way to make them for cold cooked shrimp or for the top of a salad.

If you try these shrimp you will probably like them as much as we do. I find them super convenient to have in the freezer. TJ’s sells these Wild Red Shrimp (1 lb. bag) for $9.99

*UPDATE-1 (Feb 2021) price increased to $10.99. UPDATE-2 (Apr 2022) price went up again, now 11.99!

There are so many ways you might use shrimp. Some ideas…..

More cooking ideas follow.

I made a nice Thai Shrimp Curry with shrimp, veggies and TJ’s Thai Red Curry sauce – adding the shrimp during the very last 2 minutes (a no-recipe recipe follows below).

THAI STYLE SHRIMP CURRYSauté some onions, garlic, and chopped ginger in oil for 4-5 minutes. Throw in chopped up carrots, celery, potatoes (optional add ins: mushrooms, peas, sweet potatoes, scallions) …sauté everything for 5 more minutes, then add 1/4-1/2 cup liquid (water or broth (Option: Add a 1/2 cup Coconut Milk for the liquid)) Simmer for 10 minutes, then add in a jar of TJ Thai Red Curry sauce and simmer another 10 minutes or until all the veggies are just tender. The last 2 minutes of cooking, you add your shrimp and simmer gently in the sauce, stirring occasionally. Serve the curry with jasmine rice and add chopped scallions on top.

Shrimp Roll on Brioche Bun

Here’s one more: As these shrimp are “lobster-y” they are perfect to make a New England style Shrimp Roll (aka Poor Man’s Lobster Roll). Gently poach shrimp 90 seconds or so. Remove and let cool, split or cut them up and mix with a little mayo and lemon juice, then put them in a lightly toasted buttered Brioche bread or Brioche Bun (spread with a little mayo) If you have it sprinkle a little Old Bay seasoning or dill seasoning) on top. Easy and delicious.

RECIPE: RED SHRIMP WITH HONEY ALEPPO SAUCE – https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/honey-aleppo-shrimp

(NB: TJ’s recipe here says cook the shrimp for 5-10 mins; I suggest just ignore this unless you want really overcooked shrimp! Cook these shrimp no more than 2 minutes)

Ramen? Yes. I used the shrimp in (“Roy Choi style”) instant ramen with a slice of cheese and butter.. (crazy but it works, see video below). For this dish which was a dinner, I made a veggie stock instead of using the included packet of seasoning* and added some fresh mushrooms. I added the defrosted shrimp at the very end of cooking, and only cooked them about a minute or two. See they look juicy (not overcooked)? TIP: That little flavor packet included with instant ramen is just loaded with Sodium (like 50-70% of daily recommended level)? Bad for you, so better to use your own stock or a low sodium stock and maybe just add a pinch 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

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

One more idea? Fried rice with shrimp.

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

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 COFFEE BEAN BLAST Ice Cream


Do you love coffee?

Do you love ice cream?

Then this is for you.

OMG amazingly good. Very good coffee flavor.

TIP: I improved it even more by sprinkling a little bit (or more) of very finely ground espresso coffee on top. Double Yum!

About $4 if I remember. Worth it.

Excellent TJ product.

 

RAVE

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