Trader Joe’s THAI SHRIMP GYOZA / DUMPLINGS


Thai Shrimp Dumplings / Gyoza

First to clarify, there are no “Thai seasonings” in these, nor are they spicy. They’re “Made in Thailand” hence the name (Gyoza being Japanese for dumplings BTW). TJ’s THAI SHRIMP GYOZA are frozen dumplings, with shrimp as the first ingredient listed along with cabbage and other vegetables, in a thin yellow wonton type wrapper. You can either steam, pan fry or microwave them. The skin is thinner than the “regular” TJ” dumplings. Taste-wise, these are well, OK, if nothing to write home about. One might say the shrimp flavor is “delicate”. Or one could say they don’t have a very distinct shrimp flavor. I also wish the shrimp in the filling were even more coarsely chopped with bigger pieces texture-wise, or they used a few whole baby shrimp in the mix. These shrimp dumplings are not going to compete with a shrimp dumpling from a good Chinese restaurant. Interestingly, out of the package you will notice they have browned bottoms as if they were already slightly browned or cooked. If you can, do pan fry these, perhaps a little bit more effort but worth it, as the more you brown the bottoms I think the tastier these will be. A bag of these Shrimp Dumplings now go for $5.50. There are about 15 dumplings in the 1 lb package. The funny thing is I’ve read people say these Thai Shrimp dumplings taste almost the same as TJ’s “Thai Vegetable Gyoza” the vegetarian version of these. Therefore the real question for me is since these don’t have a really distinctive taste of shrimp, are they worth the higher price versus the cheaper regular bags of Chicken or Pork dumplings Trader Joe’s has. If for variety, sure, or maybe you are a pescatarian. Frankly however the regular dumplings are better value (they were $2.99. Now $3.49) The wrappers on those are a little thicker which is more to my personal preference. Which is why I usually buy the big blue or red bags of frozen TJ dumplings as opposed to these “fancier” pricier, dumpling that are in boxes or colorful pouches. Anyway, try these at least once and decide yourself if they are worth the extra price. Funny enough I think if you made a few Red Shrimp to serve with these that would be a great combo!

Dipping sauce: I would not go a strong sauce with the shrimp dumplings, you probably want to keep it on the light side. Maybe a bit of low-sodium soy sauce with a teaspoon of vinegar (or lime juice) and some fresh ginger added. If you have Fish Sauce (Nam Pla, etc) around, a little bit might be good to give these a little more of a shrimp-y taste. Trader Joe’s once carried an excellent brand of fish sauce, Red Boat, but they stopped carrying it unfortunately.

Ingredients in the Thai Shrimp Gyoza include: Shrimp, White Cabbage, Chives, Scallions, Ginger, Garlic. Made In Thailand, No Preservatives, No Artificial Flavors. They’re in the frozen section.

RATING: “Meh”. Chinese restaurants have nothing to worry about.

Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel Seasoned SMOKED SALMON”


An “everything bagel” has a lot of seasonings on it. Is there anyone reading this who would not enjoy a few slices of smoked salmon on an everything bagel with a shmear with cream cheese?

Well Trader Joe’s had a decent idea when they decided to combine smoked salmon and their wildly popular “Everything but the bagel seasoning” as yet another addition to the populoar “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning blend family. I found Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel SMOKED SALMON to be very tasty. The Everything seasonings do not overpower the (cold smoked) Atlantic salmon. The seasonings add a nice top note to the mild farm raised salmon which has a nice buttery texture. I tasted the salmon in two ways, the first being in a classic Sunday breakfast, of smoked salmon on a bagel with cream cheese, a little pickled red onion and a squeeze of lemon, all on top of a very fresh TJ’s Artisan everything bagel, with a nice slice of EB salmon…. So delicious and totally satisfying. The second way we enjoyed this EB salmon was using the salmon in some “Temaki sushi (hand rolls)”. I made sushi rice and which we ate topped with pieces of smoked salmon, some sliced avocado and cucumber sticks nestled into a piece of Trader Joe’s seaweed treats for little tasty sushi hand rolls. This was incredibly tasty and made an easy and super yummy dinner.

simple sushi handroll

A package is $5.49 (now $5.99) for 4 oz., and yes the four slices inside went very quickly! But is an affordable splurge, this smoked salmon still a fairly decent value. FYI at Zabar‘s smoked fish counter, the sliced smoked salmon goes for $50 a pound now! (winter 2021). TJ’s is less than half that though yes it is not hand sliced from a whole side of salmon right in front of you by a seasoned counter guy. Those guys are artists.

TJ’S E.B. SMOKED SALMON is worth trying. I would buy it again as well as TJ’s very tasty Pastrami smoked salmon.

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.

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).

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 to 11.99! Yikes!

More cooking ideas follow.

I made a nice Thai Shrimp Curry with 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*) simmer for 10 minutes, then toss in a jar of TJ Thai Red Curry sauce and simmer about 10 minutes or until all the veggies are tender. The last 2 minutes of cooking, add your shrimp and cook gently in the sauce, stirring occasionally. Serve the curry with jasmine rice and add chopped scallions on top.

Shrimp Roll on Brioche Bun

There are so many ways you might use shrimp. Here’s one more: As these shrimp are “lobster-y” they are perfect in a Shrimp Roll (aka the Poor Man’s Lobster Roll). Gently poach them. When cool, split them and mix with a little mayo and lemon and put into a lightly toasted buttered Brioche bread or Brioche Bun (spread with a little mayo, and sprinkle a little lemon, a little Old Bay seasoning or dill) Easy and delicious.

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 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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