TJ’s CALROSE RICE (Japanese rice)


In our house, we eat a lot of rice. For years, I have bemoaned the fact that TJ carried a few kinds of long grain rice (Thai Jasmine, Indian Basmati) which are all terrific, however they didn’t sell short grain rice (aka Japanese rice) ie, “sushi rice”. Well finally they do, this rice pictured.

OK Trader Joe’s Calrose White Medium grain rice is technically a “medium grain” rice however the reality is this is close to an Asian Japonica short grain rice (sushi rice). So finally I can get Asian rice at Trader Joe’s! Seeing this Calrose rice for the first time made me happy. It meant I would have fewer treks in future to H-Mart or Asian supermarkets in Chinatown or Flushing and lugging a 20 lb bag of short grain rice back home on the subway.

So what’s CalRose rice? (yes you guessed it, it’s from California).

https://www.allrecipes.com/article/what-is-calrose-rice/

Maybe you have seen Kokuho Rose brand rice . Or Nishiki? Brands of Calrose “sushi rice” grown in California. Nishiki brand is one popular brand in the US among Japanese.

https://amzn.to/3lbISIH

One thing I should point out. I found the directions on the package stating to “simmer for 30 minutes” crazy talk. That’s twice as long as one normally cooks white rice. Are they kidding? This is not brown rice. If you follow TJ’s instructions you will end up with very overcooked mushy rice. Yuk. So I recommend you cooking it this way. Wash rice gently. Drain rice 10 minutes in a colander to get rid of excess water. Put in pan adding 1 1/4 cups of water. Add a little salt. Turn heat to high and cover with a tight fitting lid. Set timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes check rice. You should see some “holes” with almost no water left. Turn heat to lowest setting. Cook for another 6-7 minutes. Turn off heat. Don’t open lid! Leave covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes rice should be perfect. Fluff rice with fork or chopsticks. Taste test it. If you really think its not done put on low heat for another 5 minutes. You’re welcome. (If you’re Japanese like my wife you will say, no don’t add any salt, but I prefer a adding a bit. Gomen!)

A 2 lb. bag of Trader Joe’s Calrose Medium Grain rice is $2.49. Pretty decent price as rice has gone up in price a lot since a few years ago.

Can you make sushi with this? You certainly can. Or easier – serve this rice with Spicy Tuna (with mayo and Sriracha) and sheets of Nori (TJ seaweed snacks) and some slices of cucumber for some easy sushi style hand rolls. Need a recipe for Spicy Tuna? Here you go!

https://pickledplum.com/spicy-tuna-roll-recipe/

TJ Brown Rice Medley


Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley – “A delicious blend of long grain brown rice, black barley and daikon seeds”

This is both healthy and a bit different (better I think) than plain brown rice.

It’s a quite tasty blend of long grain par-boiled brown rice, plus two slightly unusual additions, black barley and daikon seeds. Who knew you can eat daikon seeds? We tried this rice blend and it got both mine and my wife’s seal of approval as making a very tasty and slightly nutty tasting rice side dish.

I have found Trader Joe’s instructions need a tiny bit of modification.

Bring water to a boil. I would reduce the amount of liquid they suggest so instead of the 2 1/2 cups they suggest I say try 2 1/4 cups of water or stock (to 1 cup of rice). Also if using just water, add a bit a salt. Letting it sit (without peeking!) at the end for 10 minutes is important so all the liquid gets fully absorbed. Fluff up with a fork when done. Hitting this with some butter is a good idea! Serve with your favorite main.

Its $1.99 for a 1 pound bag. Worth trying.

PS If you find it a bit mushy, the next time you make it reduce the cooking to 30 minutes plus the 10 minutes covered resting.

Trader Joe’s KIMCHI


Trader Joe’s KIMCHI (Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage)

Ingredients: Napa Cabbage, Radish, Onion, Red Pepper Powder, Salt, Garlic, Vinegar, Lactic Acid (Made in Korea)

I love kimchi. OK I’m a bit picky about it too. I want the good stuff, meaning something someone who is Korean would say “that’s good kimchi”. As someone who has Korean in-laws, and adores Korean cuisine, I have eaten a good deal of different – and excellent – varieties of Kimchi so I can really taste whats good Kimchi from “just OK”. Kimchi is tricky. It’s a very specific preparation and Korean taste. It’s probably best made by a Korean grandma. For commercially made Kimchi to be good, they must get everything right in manufacturing it in bulk. It’s tricky to sell as you have to rotate stock. It can build up pressure as it sits on the shelves too long (I have had a brand called Mother In Laws Kimchi almost explode on opening like a shook up Coke)!

Historically Trader Joe’s has tried their hand at selling Kimchi in their stores a few times and in different packages. Over the last few years, I would see Kimchi at TJ’s and eventually it seemed to go away(?) Either they discontinued it for a spell or maybe they were finding other vendors and changing the packaging, or all of the above. Before TJ’s current version sold in this red plastic jar, they carried kimchi in a soft plastic bag (see link) as well as a glass jar.

Frankly I have never been super impressed when I tried TJ’s Kimchi usually saying “not bad, it’s OK”.

So my short review of of TJ’s latest kimchi is still “it’s OK”. It’s not great but it’s decent. I think this one is better than the ones they sold previously? I have to be honest that it’s better than no Kimchi, if you can’t easily find kimchi where you live. I’m glad TJ at least is trying with Kimchi and Korean foods in general. I can’t say this latest TJ kimchi is as good as kimchi you would get from a Korean supermarket like H-Mart or even a small Korean owned fruit and veg grocer where the owners sell kimchi themselves. I have a Korean owned fruit and veg store near where they sell kimchi which is quite decent.

So on the plus side this Trader Joe’s Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage Kimchi does have that tangy kimchi fermented taste (from lactic acid, interestingly which is listed on the label as an ingredient?) It says “spicy” but I don’t find it terribly spicy though I imagine this is a personal opinion. So to sum up if you can’t get Kimchi anywhere else this is one is “not bad”, its fairly decent (though my wife says otherwise). Its about $4 for a 10 oz. jar. Honestly I’m happy that at least Trader Joe’s sells kimchi, period. Maybe they will eventually find a terrific Korean kimchi vendor. Until then we can at least make do with this.

And definitely try making some kimchi fried rice! That will turn out well as cooked kimchi mellows out and adds great flavors.

https://www.thekitchn.com/trader-joes-has-kimchi-here-are-6-ways-to-use-it-183085

Besides eating kimchi uncooked you can also make some dishes with it. Kimchi is great as an ingredient, cooked. For example “Buta Kimchi (Pork & Kimchi)” (recipe: https://uncutrecipes.com/EN-Recipes-Japanese/Buta-Kimchi.html)

And especially KIMCHI FRIED RICE. Or BIBIMBAP.

Finally, think about some DIY Kimchi! It’s not hard to make actually. If you buy a few ingredients at a Korean grocer (like Kochugaru, Korean ground red pepper) its not terribly hard to make your own kimchi and I bet the result will be better than TJ’s and make you feel like a star when you impress people saying “I made it”. Aaron & Claire on YouTube have a good “easy kimchi” recipe made from regular cabbage (it’s a “summer kimchi”) I made it and my (Korean-Japanese) wife who has always said the TJ kimchi is no good told me the cabbage one I made based on Aaron& Claire’s recipe was amazing. It’s great one day later and will be improve more and more being just amazing in two weeks as it ferments in the fridge. Seriously, if you want good kimchi, you will be surprised that you can make really good stuff on you own! Thanks Aaron & Claire for a super recipe.

You can find Sesame Oil at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find Korean GOCHUJANG (chili paste) easily where you live, you can at least find it on AMAZON : https://amzn.to/3lf7IYg

As well as Korean Red Pepper Flakes (Gochugaru) – needed for making kimchi

https://amzn.to/2UYxh5p

TJ’s Giant Peruvian Inca Corn (Choclo) Snack


Trader Joe’s Giant Inca Peruvian Corn salted snacks.

These are my new favorite snacks. Crunchy. As in Super Crunchy. I think these are just delicious.

“PRODUCT OF PERU” From a variety of Inca Corn called “Choclo”. which has HUGE kernels grown in the Andes Mountains.

It says only three ingredients, CORN, oil, salt. OK, I wish it wasn’t palm oil but only 3 ingredients with the main one of course just corn. So healthier I think then say potato chips. Filled with corn-y goodness.

$1.99 bag.

Gluten Free of course!

TJ’s Roasted Whole Golden Flax Seeds (Omega-3 !)


Trader Joe’s Roasted Golden Flax Seeds (whole seeds) – “Naturally rich in Omega-3, Lignans and Dietary Fiber”

You may know that flax seeds are probably one of the healthiest things you can eat. We’re talking Super Food healthy ! For one thing flax seeds are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and are high in protein and fiber. Heart health: studies have shown just by eating 2 tablespoons of flax seeds a day, they can lower blood pressure 10-20 points. Personally every day I eat 2 spoons of flax seeds, which I grind up and mix with yogurt and/or soy milk in my breakfast cereal. I add some chia seeds to boot! You can also put theses in your smoothies.

Up to now I bought flax seeds (raw) in Bulk at a health food store. Then I saw these Roasted Flax Seeds at Trader Joe’s. After trying them I decided these are better tasting than the other ones. Why? Roasting them definitely improves the flavor of flax seeds making them more nutier tasting and crunchier.

You can either eat them whole or grind them up (coffee grinder or morter and pestle). You can sprinkle flax seeds on your morning cereal, put them into baked goods and sneak them into foods like baked goods as well as add them to your smoothies.

$2.99 / 15 oz bag

TJ’s Channa Masala (frozen)


Trader Joe’s Channa Masala (cooked chick peas with onions, tomato and spices)

Vegetarian

Trader Joe’s of course has quite a number of good frozen and non-frozen Indian foods, many worth exploring. If you haven’t tried this, I would say try it the next time you are doing an “Indian food” night. I find this is one of TJ’s best frozen offerings. Their “Channa Masala” (spiced chick peas) is really good; almost equal in taste to many Indian restaurants. Channa means Chick Peas. Masala means mixed spices. This dish is very tasty and well spiced, it can be nuked or cooked on the stove (let it defrost then put in a pan). It’s kind of a steal at $1.99. Serve this with Basmati Rice and some Naan and you have a meal for 2. Especially if you eat with TJ’s excellent Mango Chutney and some yogurt.

PS – no one says you can’t add something to this. I often add something ; like greens: chopped swiss chard or spinach and another pat of butter, cooked for 5 minutes. this variation with added greens is excellent.

$1.99 (10 oz package)

TJ’s Washable PAPER PLACE MATS


Trader Joe’s Washable Paper Placemats

Wait up, what….?!!! Trader Joe’s sells place mats? Yeah you read that right. These place mats recently appeared in the New Products “home goods” area at my TJ. Looking at them they so totally say “IKEA” cool to me. These intrigued me, then reading the label about how they’re made from “Supernatural Paper” (!) that really got me interested. Honestly I’m always intrigued that TJ’s has any home goods type things at all. They seem to especially appear around the holidays (I slightly regret not getting some olive wood bowls and cutting boards I saw last Xmas but they were a bit pricey even for TJ’s, but they looked beautiful and handmade). Anyway since we needed to replace some old place mats and these were just $10 bucks for a set of 4, I just grabbed them in kind of an impulse buy. I picked a darkish color out of the 4-5 colors on offer as I thought this darker grey / green color would hide dirt best. These mats are on the thin side meaning when you pick up a glass that was on them you may see a little ring depression where it was, but it brushed out easily by just swiping it with my fingers. They have what I might call all kind of faux leather texture. Feels a little like thick waxed rubbery paper? I believe there are two pieces sown together. “MADE WITH SUPERNATURAL PAPER (cellulose and latex). Latex = rubber. They say “CAN BE WASHED” (hand wash separately). I think I will avoid that if possible, and just wipe/wash them daily. Wiping them clean with a soapy sponge seems to work fine. I had a little stain from some food and just wiped the mat with a damp rag with a little soap and that took off the stain as I hoped. So the rubbery, waxy covering seems to work. I like them for a change from our textile place mats. My wife complained about the white stitching they have on the edges but that doesn’t bother me at all, I kind of like it. They have a funky feel going on…in a good Ikea way. The more I have used them and lived with them I have grown to like them more and really dig the funky Ikea-ness of these.

If you see them, check them out at least with a feel and see what you think. They are $10 for set of 4 mats ($2.50 each) and come in about 5 or 6 colors. Personally I would lean to the dark / earthy colors for hiding stains.

I found this online. Are they the makers of “Supernatural Paper”?

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 cilantro too. Both versions are good. TJ also sells some non-frozen Naan breads in the regular Bread section. These cost a little more and I think are a bit thicker and bigger.

Naan breads can be used for so many things. Of course these flatbreads 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? I’ve done them that way*. Really your imaginations are your only limit on what you can do with these.

To heat them, throw these in the oven or toaster oven. I 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. I sometimes add butter and fresh crushed garlic and then put the breads in that. These are fab. Or buy the Garlic Naan versions if you don’t want to smash your own fresh garlic. The Garlic Naan ones are great and have green stuff (cilantro or scallions). I buy a pack of each kind to keep in the freezer.

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

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.

RAVE

TJ Wild Large 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…”

RAVE

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

I now buy these frozen shrimp at Trader Joe’s regularly as once I tried them I found them to be sweet, tasty and good value. They are big and meaty and have a sweet “lobster-y” flavor plus are not farmed. Argentinian / Patagonian Red Shrimp are caught in the icy waters off Argentina’s coast. They are cleaned then individually flash frozen, so very convenient. These are decently sized (20/25 count aka Large). Are Patagonian Red Shrimp “the sweetest shrimp in the world”? Maybe a marketer came up with that but they actually do taste kind of sweet and yes even “lobster-y”.

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

If I’m not using the whole bag I simply take out as many shrimp as I need and put the bag back closed with a twisty, then double bag that inside a Ziplock freezer bag. Use these Red Shrimp any way that you would normally use any shrimp. So first things first, best ways to defrost them. First I would suggest the traditional overnight thaw in the fridge in a covered bowl. Just plan ahead. If you have less time, some other options: Put them in a ziplock bag, submerge the bag in a bowl weighting it down under a plate, and run a light stream of cold water over it. They will be defrosted in about 15-20 minutes. I have also simply put some shrimp in a bowl and covered them with an inch of cold water, stirring them every 5 minutes or so, which also works and takes maybe 20-30 mins. I would not cook them right from frozen as they will surely shrink a lot and lose a lot of juice, nor would I nuke them to defrost them.

Cooking: Whatever cooking method you use, be sure not to overcook them. These shrimp do cook quickly. If you are say using a sauce, you can simmer the (defrosted) shrimp slowly in the sauce at the very end cooking them maybe 2-3 minutes (turning them over once). Patagonian Red Shrimp actually cook faster than other shrimp. They will be done quickly, in maybe 2 minutes. As soon as they are no longer translucent and look firmed up they are done, or at least should be removed at that point and then added back to your dish at the end. Not over cooking them will keep them tender, juicy and plump the way you want them. If you overcook shrimp they become tougher/chewier and shrink and curl up. TIP: Don’t throw out any liquid after defrosting, use it as stock.

They are of course terrific simply sauteed with olive oil and 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 grill shrimp on one side only, take them out of the pan then finish them in the dish for 30 seconds at the end. This is a Great idea! These shrimp are of course great grilled or sautéed and used in a pasta dish, or any recipe. Put them on a skewer and broil or grill them. They are equally great gently poached 3 minutes. Great for cold shrimp or salads. TIP: marinate 15 min in lots of TJ’s CUBAN SPICE BLEND, great with these. Or any spices of your choosing. Ajika also is terrific as is TJ’s Peri-Peri Sauce.

You’ll probably like these shrimp if you try them. I find them super convenient to have in the freezer. TJ’s sells Wild Red Shrimp (1 lb. bag) for $9.99 (UPDATE : TJ recently raised the price not long after I posted this; they are now $10.99 – Feb 2021).

More ideas for dishes below.

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

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

Another dish: Ramen? Yes. I used these shrimp for (“Roy Choi style”) instant ramen with a slice of cheese and butter. Sounds 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 shrimp at the very end of cooking, and only cooked them about a minute or two. You can see they look juicy from not overcooking.

TIP: That little flavor packet included with instant ramen is loaded with Sodium (like 50% of daily recommended level)? Too much Sodium is bad for you, so better to use your own stock or low sodium stock and maybe just add a bit of the flavor packet. Worst case, use only half the packet and if it tastes too flat, add something to flavor it up without adding much sodium (a dash of low sodium soy sauce or a few drops of Nam Pla (fish sauce).

ROY CHOI’S INSTANT RAMEN WITH CHEESE

There are so many ways you might use shrimp, so here’s one more idea: How about Shrimp Rolls (like a lobster roll)? These shrimp are “lobster-y” so would be perfect in a a shrimp roll. Gently poach them then put some on some lightly toasted buttered Brioche bread or aloha buns, (cut up shrimp, a little mayo, some Old Bay seasoning or dried dill) You can pretend it’s a lobster roll; Well its the next best thing.

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

Want one more idea? Fried rice with shrimp is fantastic.

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

Envy Apples


I never heard of this apple before I saw them at Trader Joe’s. A hybrid developed in New Zealand, “Envy” apples are a hybrid of Royal Gala and Braeburn varieties. Both of those are excellent apples, and this hybrid, Envy, is well, just a terrific tasting apple. When I first tasted this Envy, my taste buds went pretty wild with “this must be one of the best apples I ever had”. Seriously this is just a great apple. Nice crunch, firm texture, sweet but with a hint of sour underneath? It’s a complex flavor, way more complex than just “sweet” like say a Honey Crisp apple or Red Delicious (yuck). Envy are a favorite pick of the Trader Joe’s crew, who I imagine taste everything they sell. I kind of trust those “crew picks”.

INFO

https://envyapple.com/en/about-envy#tab-1

These apples go great with just about everything. What about Envy with cheese? Yes, please. I knew they would match well with most any cheese, and frankly there is absolutely nothing better than to slice up these apples and put them on a plate with the Unexpected Cheddar. What a combo these make together. Seriously. Try either that or Cabot cheddar with these apples. I would imagine Brie would be great, or let’s face it any cheese you like. I love these just eaten out of hand on their own of course. I like them in the morning, diced up for my breakfast cereal. Your kids will love these paired up with some peanut butter. I know I do. Envy sell for $1.29 each. A bit more than the apples TJ sells for 79 cents but worth the little splurge every now and then. So if you haven’t ever tried these, try one for yourselves. You may get hooked on them. I know I have. I always buy one when I’m at TJ’s.

RAVE

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