Argentinian Red Shrimp (frozen)


(from the package) 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…”.

I now regularly buy these frozen shrimp at Trader Joe’s. These are very good shrimp. They’re wild, raw Red Shrimp (aka Patagonian Red Shrimp) that have been de-shelled, cleaned, deveined and flash frozen, seperately.

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

If I am not using the whole bag, I just take out as many shrimp as I need, then put them back in the freezer double bagged inside another ziplock freezer bag.

One can cook these Red Shrimp any way that you would normally use fresh shrimp after defrosting them of course. So first things first, best ways to defrost these. First off, leaving them to slowly thaw in the fridge overnight or the day before. If you have less time, you can put them in a zip lock bag, and submerge the bag in a bowl under a trickle of cold running water. In a pinch I have put some shrimp right in a bowl and covered them with 2-4 inches of cold salted water, stirring them even 5 minutes or so. I confess also in a pinch I have done an fast “emergency defrost” where I run the frozen shrimp under cold water in a colander till they are de-iced and mostly defrosted and then very SLOWLY warmed them on the lowest fire possible in liquid (salted water or some broth or whatever sauce I am cooking them in). If you are say using a sauce, you can simmer your defrosted shrimp slowly in the sauce at the very end cooking them maybe 2-3 minutes (turning them over once).

Whatever method you use, be sure not to overcook them. These Red Shrimp actually cook faster than other shrimp. I sometimes cook them, remove them when nearly done and then add them back in at the very end. These cook quite quickly, basically in a 1-3 minutes. As soon as they are no longer translucent and firm, to me they are done, or at least should be removed at that point and then added back to your dish at the end as mentioned. Cooking them just so will keep them tender and juicy and plump, which you want. If you over cook shrimp, they shrink up and become tougher. These shrimp are great in pasta, or sautéed in garlic and butter, or any shrimp dish. I made a nice curry with veggies and Thai Red Curry sauce and added the shrimp at the very last few minutes.

TJ’s Wild Red Shrimp cost $10 for a 1 lb. bag (20/25 count). They are a good size (aka Large). If you find these Patagonia Red Shrimp frozen or fresh they are usually double that price elsewhere. (UPDATE : TJ recently raised the price $1 not long after I posted this; they are now $10.99 – Feb 2021)

These Wild Red Shrimp are well worth trying.

RAVE

Below is a picture of a tasty curry dish I made with these shrimp plus lots of veggies using TJ’s Thai Red Curry sauce. I added the shrimp at the very last few minutes and served it with Jasmine Rice. Shrimp curry is yummy, and worth trying (a basic recipe is at the end)

Another dish: You can see I used these shrimp in a bowl of ramen (Roy Choi style instant ramen with a slice of cheese and butter. Sounds crazy but works, see video below). For this dish, which was a dinner I made a veggie stock instead of using the 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. You can see they look juicy and are not shriveled up from being overcooked. TIP: * Be careful with that little flavor packet in instant ramen bag. Read the label; they are just loaded with Sodium! Better is if you use some stock of your own and just a bit of the flavor packet. Worst case, use only half the packet and if it taste too flat, add something (a dash of low sodium soy sauce or a drop 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: Why not 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, with cut up shrimp, a little mayo, some Old Bay seasoning or dried dill… I bet this would be great, and you can pretend it’s lobster!

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 using some shrimp

THAI STYLE SHRIMP CURRY – Sauté onions and garlic in oil for 5 minutes, throw in chopped carrots, celery, potatoes (mushrooms, peas, sweet potatoes, scallions) …saute 5 minutes, throw in 1/4 cup liquid (water or broth) simmer for 10 minutes, toss in a jar of Thai Red Curry, simmer about 10 more minutes till tender. The last 2 minutes add shrimp and cook gently in the sauce, stirring occasionally. Serve with jasmine rice.

Easy Pizza with Tandoori Naan


When I saw these frozen TANDOORI NAAN, I had an idea… Could I use these naan for the “base” of a pizza? If so than I could make pizza in mere seconds! OK it actually took me more like 5 minutes to assemble these pizzas (see pic) and pop them in a hot oven. But the idea? It basically worked fine. Using these Naan breads makes it super fast and easy to whip up some individual sized pizzas almost instantly. Just spread some of your favorite sauce, put on some cheese, and pop them in the oven, and Bingo you got a fresh hot pizza in about  10-15 minutes with almost no work at all.

As you can see in the pictures, I simply put some marinara on. I put slices of TJ whole milk mozzarella on, then threw it in the oven on a baking sheet for about 10-12 minutes at 400 .

Yes, I spruced these up a little adding a few sliced mushrooms and a few sliced asparagus to make it a bit “veggie”. I had this stuff in the fridge. Now I turned on the broiler for the last minute or two to really get the top nice and browned (I over did this by a few seconds so be careful if you do the broiler browning part). When they came out, I put some fresh grated parmesan on for good measure, and a drizzle of EVOO.

DELICIOUS!

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The Naan Pizza turned out quite good as you can probably tell from the pic. We ate one each with a salad for dinner and that made a very satisfying (and tasty!) dinner for us. Making these with the Naan requires so little time and effort. Yes the naan is not a real pizza base, it is more bread-y than a real pizza but seriously this was so fast, easy and cheap that making PIZZA NAAN is certainly worth giving a try sometime. TIP: Buy and try this with the GARLIC NAAN version TJ has as well. Obviously the Trader Joe’s Naan are great used in the traditional way too. For example accompanying some of the TJ Masala Chickpeas (frozen section) which are delicious!

A pack of 4 Naan is $1.99 (50 cents each, not bad huh). These are great to have in your freezer for pizza or Indian food or to use in many imaginative ways whenever you are in the mood.

Trader Joe’s WINTER WAKE UP TEA


So let me just start off with the comment that I really like this tea but frankly found the name a wee bit misleading. When I saw the words “Wake Up Tea”, I just assumed this will make a cup of strong, dark, kick-ass, rocket fuel (English/Irish) tea… A dark cuppa that really wakes you up in the morning. But when I brewed up a cup as you can see in the picture its not a very dark super strong tea. However when I tasted it I thought, oh this quite good! So I really like this tea but my take is kind of Trader Joe’s should have come up with a different name minus “wake up”. “Winter Wake Up Tea” is probably not something I would brew to wake me up in the morning. But other than that comment, Trader Joe’s has come up with an EXCELLENT TEA BLEND with great spice flavors that would satisfy me at any time of day, and makes me feel all nice and warm and cozy!

TJ’s Winter Wake Up Tea is a wonderfully balanced tasty spiced tea, a blend of black tea, cinnamon, orange peel, ginger and cloves. If it was called something a bit different without “wake up” in the name, I would have simply started the review with “A most wonderful spiced tea that will make you feel warm and toasty on a cold snowy winter’s eve, and will warm your heart and soul! Drink it in front of the fireplace and just relax….” Personally Mr. Joe, I would have named it something like, say… WINTER COZY TEA. or WINTER SPICE BLEND TEA* or something like that.

Brew this up and you get a very nice spiced tea that reminds me slightly of CONSTANT COMMENT tea – a famous spiced tea blend created back in 1945. My parents always had it in our cupboard, especially making an appearance when “company” came over, as it was kind of special and would get a “yum… whats this tea?” comment from our guests. Ah the good old days! This TJ tea make a lighter cup than Constant Comment, with less black tea prominent in the blend but probably more spices such as cinnamon, ginger, plus clove and orange peel. It even is has the slightest bit of sweetness naturally as an under-note from a bit of licorice, which possesses natural sweetness.

So will this wake you up like the Irish Breakfast tea which actually is a “wake up tea”? Myself, to wake up I need a strong cuppa like TJ’s excellent Irish Breakfast Tea, or a typical English tea like Typhoo Tea or the like. But still enjoy this Winter Tea for what it is – a quite lovely spiced tea full of flavor.

Aha, methinks, I’ve a great idea! What if I combined the two teas together?! I brewed both teas up together, and very much liked the resulting concoction. If you do you want something a bit darker and stronger but with lots of nice spice flavors, just take 2 cups of water, bring to a boil in a pot, and toss in a bag of this Winter Tea plus a bag of Irish Breakfast Tea. Let it brew for at least 5 minutes. The result is nice mix-up of both, a strong “cuppa” plus lots of warm spices and flavor, not terribly unlike Constant Comment, and which actually now is a Wake Up Tea that will perk you up on a cold winter’s morn.

*So Mr Trader Joe, should you borrow my ideas and rename this product “COZY WINTER TEA” you better at least send me a case of this stuff!

 

 

 

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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Trader Joe’s SLICED FRENCH BRIOCHE BREAD


“Buttery, moist and perfectly French”

Wow is this heavenly stuff. One of those so good, you can’t stop eating it, things. FRENCH BRIOCHE bread is a big hit for Trader Joe’s, a best seller year round. Almost anytime I go to TJs if I glance around at customers carts on the check out line, its a pretty sure thing I will see a package, if not two, of this bread in a few carts. This Brioche is the real thing: “Made in France”, this sliced brioche is one of TJ’s most popular items for very good reason, its pretty amazing! Soft and eggy, slightly sweet, it comes in thick slices, about 1/2 inch thick.

If you know what a real bakery Challah bread tastes like, brioche is very similar, both are yeasted breads made with lots of eggs and butter. This bread is delicious as-is un-toasted of the bag, spread with some softened (French) butter. or cream cheese. It is fantastic, of course TOASTED up till it is a perfect, delicious golden brown. Butter, cinnamon and sugar? Cinnamon toast. This might be the most delicious toast you will ever have. TIP: Be careful when you toast this bread as it can go from Perfect to Burnt in just a few seconds. So keep an eye on it. I love it toasted, spread with soft French (or Irish) butter and served with scrambled eggs. It is amazing with cream cheese and smoked salmon, or any jam or marmalade, or basically anything at all. It makes the best sandwiches in the world. Heaven on a plate. AVOCADO BRIOCHE TOAST?! Oh yeah baby, I had some toasted this morning for breakfast with butter, avocado smashed up with lemon, salt and pepper and GDS hot sauce.

FRENCH TOAST – This as you may have read online naturally this bread makes THE most amazing French Toast. You must try this next time you make French toast. It will be moist and delicious and heavenly… A breakfast your family will beg you to make again and again. Its soft, so you may want to leave it out overnight to get a bit hard and stale to hold up better, but even if not, its great.

A package of the brioche is $4. In a bakery, a brioche bread like this would be at least $7, so for 4 bucks its as usual a real good deal chez Trader Joe’s. A package can be devoured easily, so I guess thats why I see folks buying it in often two at a time. I keep it in the freezer of course. It defrosts rapidly and stays super fresh in the freezer. TIP: If you want a thin slice of this, you can cut it easily a minute or two after you take it out of the freezer, when its still a bit stiff and frozen, its way easier to cut in half frozen (be careful of course.) If cut in half you get a nice thin slice. I find this good for some things, especially if you don’t want a super thick sandwich. Thin, the brioche makes the most amazing cucumber sandwiches! Or make open face Scandinavian style things with this (salmon, cream cheese, dill, lemon….)

A great product!

RAVE

Need a recipe for French Toast? This is a nice one

https://www.fromvalerieskitchen.com/brioche-french-toast/

TJ recipe for Raspberry Ricotta Toast with sliced brioche

https://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/4647

AHI TUNA


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“The secret to cooking Ahi Tuna is not to overcook it”

Ahi = Hawaiian for Yellowfin Tuna. Its tasty! AHI TUNA STEAKS are in the frozen fish section at Trader Joe’s. From the package (“Wild Caught, Spain”) it sounds like it was fished from Spanish waters.

How To Cook: Most important, a slow defrost overnight in the fridge is the best method. Slow defrosting is best = but in an “emergency” you try putting the package in a shallow dish and running under the faucet with Cold water. Do not nuke it whatever you do, that will ruin it for sure. The package states you should “remove from package before defrosting”. Huh? I’m not quite sure why… does anyone have a clue why they would say that? Anyway I defrost it in the fridge, and once the fish is defrosted I put it in a container to marinate it for a half hour to an hour. As far as a marinade 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 or for extra Asian flavor a teaspoon of TJ’s dark roasted sesame oil. You can add some type of acid if you like: a touch of cider vinegar, lemon juice, or sake if you have it. You will serve it with some citrus (fresh Lemon or Lime)

Cooking Ahi Tuna: It is crucial that you don’t overcook tuna. Tuna is easily overcooked so be very careful with your cook time. Personally I think AHI is best cooked in the Japanese “Tataki-style” way being  searing the outside on all sides and leaving the center barely cooked, a bit pink. I 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. Flip it to cook the other side for a minute. If you want you can use tongs to sear the sides of the fish (but again be careful not to overcook it) Take the fish out of the pan. Let it rest for a few minutes before you slice it, against the grain like a steak. Be sure to save the pan juices and any juice that runs out on the cutting board and pour that over it.

Deglaze the pan with some water, rice vinegar, or 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, make a sauce fresh to serve with the fish. Here’s some ideas….

“Butter – Shoyu” (Soy Butter Sauce) Put a dollop of butter in the pan along with a little soy sauce, a great combination. Pour over the Ahi and serve with slices of fresh lemon or lime.

PONZU SAUCE: Combine Soy sauce and Lemon Juice. Great combo!

The photo shows my finished dish.

It should end up just seared on the outside and pink in the center…just how pink is up to you. I like mine like it is in the center in the pic (pink! just this side of raw) while my wife likes it as it is cooked on the ends (medium). 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 delicious. You could even try it as “poke” I guess (ceviche style). I am willing but my (Japanese) wife won’t let me make it that way, as she says this is not “sashimi grade tuna” –  which costs three times as much, selling for about $25/lb instead of this at $8/lb. So at 8 bucks a pound for a nice fish dish, 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 a neutral 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 (defrosted) for at least 1 hour, turning it once. Cook as desired.

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TJ Fresh Mozzarella Log


I think I can get this review in just in time for End of Summer when one can get excellent tomatoes. Well the perfect thing to pair with those perfect juicy tomatoes is this: Trader Joe’s Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Log. Unlike the firmer, drier “pizza” mozzarella, fresh mozzarella is a soft fresh cheese. Fresh mozzarella is perfect for pairing with tomatoes, basil and decent olive oil for a super easy and delicious classic: the “Caprese Salad” (Insalata Caprese) Caprese Salad is the simplest of Italian salads, with sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil leaves, dressed with olive oil. Like Pizza Margherita, it features the colors of the Italian flag: green, white, red.

The cheese is shaped like a log and is pre-sliced into rounds which makes this super convenient and super easy. Open it, and put some mozz on a plate with sliced tomatoes. You can arrange them artistically, alternating tomato and round of cheese if you want to impress, but even just cutting the slices into quarters and tossing with cubed tomatoes is fine! Good extra virgen olive oil, of course! Sometimes I add a few capers and a little of the caper liquid. With some good bread you have a super easy dinner or lunch and a small slice of heaven ready in minutes -especially if you can find some great tomatoes. Serve this salad to guests and they will love it. And its also good of course just eaten as is, put on a cheese plate, or making a terrific sandwich.


A 1 lb package is $4.99, which for fresh mozzarella is as usual, a pretty good deal.

NO-RECIPE RECIPE CAPRESE SALAD (INSULATE CAPRESE): Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella. Tear up a good number of fresh basil leaves and sprinkle them all over everything,  arranging the salad on a large, shallow plate or platter. Drizzle the salad with good extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. (OPTIONAL: some jarred capers with some of their juice, or a very small amount of a vinegar) Serve with a nice crusty bread.

(Post Summer) If you can’t get great tasting beefsteak tomatoes get the small cherry egg shaped Italian tomatoes Trader Joe’s carries. They are a little expensive but are really tasty, cut in half, and mix up with cut up mozzarella …..

RAVE

Trader Joe’s AUTHENTIC GREEK FETA in brine


This is an authentic imported Greek feta made from sheep’s milk. Sheep’s milk produces the best feta cheese. This feta has a wonderful tangy flavor and aroma with a nice creamy texture, plus it’s not overly salty. It comes as two large slabs of cheese covered in brine which is the proper way feta should be kept because the liquid brine keeps the texture of the feta creamy and smooth.

There are a many types of feta cheese from different countries and it is made from the milk of different animals (cow, goat, sheep). Feta is produced in France, Bulgaria, Israel and of course Greece. Greek Feta may be the best of them all, though I like all the ones from the countries I just mentioned for different reasons. TJ has on occasion carried an Israeli feta (it came in plastic bag, and was only available for a year or so. The Isreali feta TJ now sells in a plastic tub is not as creamy)

The plastic box this TJ feta comes in was tricky to open – until I understood only the very top part is a lid that comes off, once you have broken the waterproof seal, ripping a small plastic tab in one corner of the tub. So open it up carefully, and do it on the counter so brine doesn’t fly out everywhere (and by the way don’t throw out the brine – more on this later)

Here’s just a few ideas on what you can do with feta cheese. I mean its delicious just by itself but its so versatile to have in the fridge to use with other things, like….

Greek Salad
Just a slab of this cheese on some salad greens, cukes and tomato and you will have a Greek Salad in minutes. Throw on some olives too if you have them of course. Drizzle a very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil and squeeze on some fresh lemon juice. Grind on some fresh black pepper. You could vamp it up with some proteins, like hard boiled eggs, maybe some drained canned tuna, or cooked chicken. Serve with a some crusty bread. Voila, a complete dinner!

Watermelon and Feta
Cube up some nice sweet watermelon and throw on cubes of the feta. Genius combo. I’ve decided I don’t need olive oil on this, just the two ingredients and a grind of black pepper.

Shakshuka and Feta

TJ’s frozen Shakshuka: add cubes of this feta in as you cook it. Double Yum~

Feta cheese is often used in cooking: one of my favorite Greek dishes is “Garides mi Feta” (Shrimp with tomatoes and Feta) It’s fantastic!

As this feta is authentically imported from Greece of course its not as cheap as the small pack of feta cheese TJ carries at $3 for 8 oz. which is OK (its cows milk) but not great like this Greek feta. This brined feta TJ sell is $6.49 for 10 oz (drained). So figure about $10/lb for a real “Product of Greece” feta, which is a decent price for real Greek feta. Honestly this stuff will make your meal or dish, so worth the occasional splurge.

Oh and remember I said keep that brine? You can actually use it. That milky feta brine actually has flavor. Mellissa Clark in the New York Times put out a great recipe for chicken using brine, plus you can marinate chicken breasts in feta brine for 30-60 minutes;  Bake, broil, pan grill…! They will be SO juicy from the brining.

https://food52.com/recipes/69859-melissa-clark-s-feta-brined-roast-chicken

https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/primers/article/feta-guide

https://food52.com/blog/23031-how-to-use-feta-brine-water-salt-tricks-tips

RAVE

“You know how many kinds of feta exist? Thousands. Every place you go in Greece, they make feta” (Greek cheese monger in Astoria Queens)

VEGETABLE & SOBA NOODLE STIR FRY KIT (aka Yakisoba)


VEGETABLE & SOBA NOODLE STIR FRY

This “stir fry kit” is composed of cut, prepped veggies all ready to stir fry, along with 2 packets of (cooked) soba noodles, plus a packet of soy- ginger finishing sauce. It has broccoli, bok choy, savoy cabbage, snow peas, scallions.

Look for this in the refrigerated / veggie/salads case. I say this convenient $5 kit is in actuality, most of the makings of Japanese YAKISOBA – minus a few ingredients – that one can easily add to make that super tasty Japanese dish. So when I saw this at TJ’s in the veggies section I said to myself, “Great I’m making Yakisoba tonight”.

YAKISOBA – YAKI means grilled. SOBA means buckwheat (noodles). Ergo, grilled noodles. Yakisoba is one of Japan’s most popular homey dishes, both eaten out, made at home, and served at school. Japanese kids pretty much grow up on it. Everyone loves Yakisoba.

You can cook up this Kit exactly As-Is on the package and get a decent Veggie Noodle Stir Fry. Or easily turn this kit with a few additions, into Yakisoba.

The main thing missing would be some kind of Main or protein (Pork, Tofu, Chicken….) plus some ginger and garlic, and a little more soy.

Protein: If you are vegetarian, you might add BAKED TOFU, sliced up into strips and grilled with the veggies. Possibly also add some sliced mushrooms, either shiitake, crimini or white mushrooms, any of them will add a lot of “umami”. If you are not vegetarian, protein options could be the traditional sliced or ground pork (even very thinly sliced pork belly). In Japan Yakisoba is even sometimes made with squid! Any protein you can stir fry with the veggies will pretty much work. Chicken strips, or steak, even ground beef. When I made it, I used pork tenderloin from TJ sliced up into strips that I first got a nice sear on both sides then set aside to add back at the end when I added the sauce package. I have cut pork chops into strips to make this with. Ditto chicken breast or thighs.

TIP: The noodles come cooked in a plastic bag. When you open the bags the soba noodles are totally stuck together in a very firm block that you can’t do anything with. You MUST prep them ahead a half hour before you start your dish. Loosen them up by letting them soak in very, very hot (even boiling water) for 15-20 minutes — and not for only two minutes as the package says which is not enough time! Once loosened up you can gently untangle and loosen them with your fingers and drain them in a colander, ready to throw in at the end with a pinch of more oil. Want more noodles then come in this package (not much)? Then just first cook up some Soba noodles or Chinese noodles or rice noodles, drain them and have them ready to toss in the pan with some more oil.

YAKISOBA: In a non-stick pan, sauté some ginger and garlic with the Main Protein (slicked pork, meat or tofu – or squid!) in a few teaspoons of neutral oil. Toss in the veggies. Add mushrooms if using. Stir fry veggies about 3 mins. till barely cooked (do not overcook!) Add the softened noodles and the meat or tofu back to the pan. Stir fry for a few more minutes, then turn off heat and add the sauce to coat. A few drizzles of sesame oil would be great. Add some Green Dragon Hot Sauce if thats your style. Stir all to combine. I threw some arugula and more chopped green onions on top. Katsuobushi* flakes if you have them? Done. About 10 minutes and you have a delicious dish.

PS – If you can find “Katsuobushi” flakes* at an Asian store, that would be great to top this with for authentic Japanese Yakisoba. Amazon sells Katsuobushi.  Ditto for “BENISHOGA” (Picked Red Ginger). Both are traditional Yakisoba toppings.

 

UPDATE: The first time I purchased this kit there were 2 packs of Soba Noodles inside. Recently on 2 occasions when I purchased it, there seems to be only 1 pack of noodles in the kit. Whats up with that? With 2 packs there was really a meal here for at least 2 people but with 1 pack of noodles, obviously thats much less noodle to veggie ratio.

 

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TJ’s Amba Mango Sauce


Trader Joe’s Amba Mango sauce is a unique and very tasty condiment.

I had vaguely heard of “Amba” as an Israeli condiment for “Sabich” (eggplant sandwich). Amba Sauce is one of those new tasty food products that TJ sells that you may not know what it is at first, nor what you would use it for, but give this wonderfully unique tasting stuff a try. Savory, pungent, tangy, the sauce is made from fermented ripe as well as green mangos simmered with garlic, salt, turmeric and a few other spices, blended into a smooth sauce. Amba is so unique, intruiging and tasty that once once you try it, you will end up dreaming of things you might try it with, “I wonder if this would be good on..(fill in blank).” Thats what I did. I kept putting it on things to see if they would be good with it. Many were!

So what is “Amba Sauce” anyway? From the package: “Amba is a fermented mango sauce traditionally found in Israel  India and the Middle East. Use it as a savory sauce on meat and seafood, vegetables and falafel, or even as a unique salad dressing”.

“Amba” means mango in an Indian language, Marathi. Its made of yellow ripe mangos as well as unripe green mangos, pureed till smooth and cooked with many spices and chilis and is fermented. The fermentation I’m sure ratchets up the taste level. It is both sweet, sour, and spicy. The heat comes and hits you later. Much later. This stuff is a very complex flavor bomb of fruity and spicy and many spices. Get the idea? Its great for many things. Just a few ideas: Try it over cooked chicken. Falafel, of course! Salmon. Meats. Salads and bowls. On the side with Indian pakoras, or breads, or basmati rice? Absolutely of course! Mixed with Greek Yogurt*? Yes! I came up with the idea of mixing these two things and it was amazing together as the yogurt calmed down the spice level and melded things.

AMBA SAUCE is carried in the refrigerated section and comes in a convenient squeeze pouch with a plastic top. A 14-ounce re-closable, pourable yellow bag of Trader Joe’s Amba Mango Sauce is $3.29. A bag lasted me quite some time as a little goes a long way, and it can last for a month or two in the fridge. This is a fantastic TJ product well worth the price. Amba is hard to find in the U.S.

Here’s a super easy tasty sauce mix with Amba I came up with; it makes a smooth, creamy yummy sauce, toning down the spice level but still getting some and you can adjust the ratio of amba to yogurt.

*GREEK YOGURT & AMBA SAUCE

Mix about 1/2 cup of plain Greek Yogurt with about a 1/3-1/2 cup of Amba Sauce. Add chopped garlic mashed with a little salt. Fresh ground pepper. Stir to combine and let it sit in the fridge for a bit. For a GREEN SAUCE version of this which I made, just add chopped parsley or arugula or baby kale, chopped very finely. Let flavors meld in fridge for at least a 1/2 hr or more. Serve on fish, chicken, meats, grilled tofu, or over basmati or jasmine rice, or practically anything! Adjust the ratio of amba and yogurt to your exact liking.

 

TJ FEARLESS FLYER INFO ON AMBA SAUCE (CLICK)

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