TJ’s CERTIFIED ORGANIC THAI JASMINE RICE (NEW)


New Products: Trader Joe’s ORGANIC JASMINE RICE

Thai Jasmine Rice is wonderful, one of the tastiest kinds of long grain rice there is besides Basmati rice.

TJ’s has had regular Jasmine rice for a long time. Now the are also offering this new organic version. The package says “Product of Thailand” and “Certified Organic”.

TJ’s finally have directions and ratios written on the package which seem about right to me. On this package they list a 1:2 ratio (1 cup of rice to 2 cups water/liquid) and cooking 15-20 minutes. Personally I rinse Jasmine rice very minimally, about once instead of the standard 2-3x to preserve as much of that delicate jasmine aroma as possible. It’s organic and as far as I can tell, quite clean, you don’t have to go overboard washing this rice. Washing rice these days is mostly about removing excess starch anyway.

$3.49 (2 lb bag)

BTW where do you store rice? I have taken to keeping it in the fridge if it has space. otherwise, in a dark cool pantry in another zip lock bag.

TJ’s CALROSE RICE (Asian/Japanese rice)


In our house, we eat a lot of rice. For years, I have bemoaned the fact that TJ carried a number of varieties of long grain rice – Thai Jasmine, Indian Basmati – which are all terrific, but TJ’s didn’t carry any short (“Asian”) grain rice. Well finally they do! OK technically Trader Joe’s Calrose rice is a “medium grain” however the reality is this is Asian rice. Seeing this Calrose rice for the first time made me so happy as it meant I no longer have to trek for rice at H-Mart or other Asian supermarkets, lugging a 20 lb bag of short grain rice back on the subway!

So what is CalRose rice exactly? (you guessed it, it’s from California). See the link below for complete info.

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

Maybe you have seen Kokuho Rose rice, or Nishiki? Both are brands of Calrose rice grown in California for the US Asian market. Nishiki is a popular rice among Japanese people in the US.

One thing I need to point out however are the directions on the package need some adjustment. I think TJ’s directions saying “simmer for 30 minutes” to be crazy long. 30 minutes!?! That’s about twice as long as one normally cooks white rice. If you follow the instructions written on the package I think you will end up with overcooked, mushy rice.

I recommend cooking it this way (stove top). Wash 1 cup rice gently in one or two changes of water. Drain the rice 15-20 minutes in a colander. Put in pan with 1 1/4 cups of water (ie, a little over 1-1 ratio) brought to a boil. Add a little salt*. Cook on med. high heat. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Set timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes check rice quickly. You should see most if not all of the water gone. Turn heat to lowest setting and leave covered for another 6-7 minutes. Turn off heat and don’t open the lid! Leave covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes rice should be perfectly cooked. Taste it. If you really think its not done put on low heat for another 4 minutes with a teaspoon of water added. (*If you’re Japanese like my wife you will say don’t add any salt, but I prefer a little bit.)

Of course short grain rice is naturally stickier than long grain rice, for one thing making it easier to eat it with chopsticks.

Oh and by the way TJ Calrose rice is not only for Asian dishes but excellent for other dishes, like Spanish rice dishes calling for medium grain rice, such as paella. You might even try doing a risotto with this TJ rice.

Trader Joe’s Calrose Medium Grain rice sells for $2.49 (2 lb bag ie, 1.25/lb) A typical price these days as rice has gone up in price a lot since a few years ago.

Can you make sushi with this? Yes you can. Or easier than real sushe – serve this rice with Spicy Tuna (with mayo and Sriracha) and sheets of Nori (TJ’s roasted seaweed snacks) and slivers of cucumber for an easy sushi style hand roll. 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 than plain browner rice, and better I think. It’s a tasty mix par-boiled brown rice plus two slightly unusual additions of black barley and daikon seeds. Who knew you can eat daikon seeds? I didn’t till now! We tried this rice blend and it got both mine and my wife’s seal of approval as making for an interesting, nutty tasting rice side dish.

However I found Trader Joe’s instructions need a tiny bit of modification regarding liquid amounts. I would reduce the amount of liquid they suggest on the package. So instead of the 2 1/2 cups they state I say try 2 1/4 cups of water or stock (to 1 cup of rice). For a ration slightly more than 2:1.

Also if using just water, you should add a bit a salt. Butter is a good idea. 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 a little more butter is a good too. Possibly some chopped parsley? Serve with your favorite main.

Its $1.99 for a 1 pound bag. Worth trying. PS If you find it a bit too cooked for your tastes or mushy, the next time you make it reduce the cooking to 30 minutes (instead of the 35 mins written on the package). The brown rice in this has been par-boiled. Normally regular brown rice needs about 45 minutes.

Trader Joe’s RICE CRACKER MEDLEY snacks


These are very tasty, very crunchy cracker type snacks. I would say these are one of my very top Trader Joe’s products. I usually buy a bag whenever I am there.

A favorite snack food in Japan are SENBEI (pronouced Sen-bay).

Senbei are a variety of snacks made from rice which is baked into a crunchy cracker and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. In Japan there are probably hundreds of kinds. I’ve been to special Senbei shops in Kyoto that are over 150 years old (the shop, not the snacks!)

These “Rice Crackers” that TJ sells are a mixed variety of typical Japanese Senbei snacks. The package says that they are Made in Thailand. If I didn’t see this I would swear these were made in Japan as they are exactly like Japanese Senbei, of which I am really fond of and have tasted plenty!

In the bag are a mixed variety of shapes and sizes as you can see in the photo here. There are both the flat cracker style ones, some short stick type ones, some plain and some coated with “nori” (seaweed). You don’t get more Japanese than these! There are even some of the typical spicy “Wasabi Peas” you probably have tasted, in this Rice Cracker Medley. Every different kind is tasty. My favorite ones are the biggest round crackers, which are a little thick and SUPER crunchy.  Trust me, when I say “super crunchy” you may not believe how “crunchy”, crunchy can be until you eat these. I’m talking LOUD, noises going off inside your head, you can barely hear, turn up the tv 10 notches, that crunchy, dig?

These rice crackers have a great deal of “umami“, the “5th flavor” that Japanese covet, and which every chef in America is currently interested in. These crackers go great with beer, they match well with cheese, or you can just eat them on their own. To me, they’re so good, I classify these as a “dangerous” TJ product – meaning a bag in my house can go really FAST between myself and my wife (who’s Japanese, aha!). I could almost eat a whole bag (but I don’t). If you try these you will probably also love them, and want to buy them every time you visit TJ’s. A bag costs $2.29, not a bad deal.

Trader Joe’s Kimchi Fried Rice


 

TJ’s Kimchi Fried Rice

Disclaimer: I only tried this at the Sample Station. In fact I confess the Sample Station is the locus where I usually gravitate to almost immediately after I enter Trader Joe’s. I check out if they have something interesting to taste that day, and of course to grab myself a little cup of free coffee. Don’t you? Truly the Coffee Station is one of the best things about Trader Joe’s, isn’t it? Every supermarket should copy them; going shopping would be much more fun.


Kimchi Fried Rice is a fairly new item and TJ’s seemed to be promoting it quite a bit. Recently it was the product “on sample” 2 or 3 times that I had been to TJ’s of late. What I found funny was they had a sign next to the samples: Its said something like, “Warning: Spicy! Try at your own risk! If you can’t take spicy food, be careful!” Then I tasted it and my first thought was “Huh? This is spicy?”. Seriously to me it was about as spicy as baby food (I can take the heat). I started discussing this disconnect of the “WARNING” sign with the TJ employee who was in charge of the Sample Station at the time. He was of the same opinion – the Kimchi Fried Rice is not spicy at all! He cracked me up when he told me however how many people actually complained “Jeez this is so spicy” after they tasted the Kimchi Fried Rice on sample. So many that they put up the “warning, spicy” sign!

So here is what I thought after tasting the Kimchi Fried Rice. My wife is Korean-Japanese. So I knows me some Kimchi Fried Rice (the authentic Korean kind). I adore it. I can even cook a decent version myself. So if I compare that taste to this stuff, I just have to say this is a pretty bland, insipid version. The two times I tried it was soft and fairly mushy, plus it had barely any kimchi taste; To me, its flavor profile was just weak, which I attribute to an industrial production of such a “homey” dish. For one, truly Kimchi Fried Rice needs real garlic flavor, as well as Kimchi. This barely even had any garlic nor Kimchi flavor for me. The real thing is a fantastic dish, and this? Frankly to my tastes perhaps it would be suitable for babies (ok maybe Korean babies). Now having said that – Trader Joe’s does have a decent “ethnic” fried rice. TJ’s JAPANESE FRIED RICE is actually pretty good. In my years,  I’ve eaten tons of both Kimchi fried rice and Japanese fried rice and know what these should taste like, and I can cook decent versions of both.

So, sorry Trader Joe’s but in my opinion your KIMCHI FRIED RICE is a big miss!

If you try it, also try the JAPANESE FRIED RICE next time and see which you prefer. Pretty much same as TJ’s another new “Korean” addition, Trader Joe’s Kimchi, which I found such a poor product I actually “returned” it! Perhaps those who don’t live in a city where you can buy real kimchi sold at a Korean market, might think “so this is kimchi, tasty”.  Actually if you had real Kimchi you would know this stuff is not even close to being as tasty as a real Korean-made kimchi – for example this brand (Tobagi) of Napa cabbage kimchi I get at H-MART supermarket on 32nd Street (Manhattan’s Korea Town). If you A/B taste tested this prepared kimchi vs. the Trader Joe’s version? It would be almost a joke, its just no comparison! Anyone who’s been to a Korean restaurant will know the real taste of kimchi. At $1.99 (10 oz) you can try TJ’s version and see for yourself. Let me know what you think.

RANT

Kimchi bokkeumbap, kimchi fried rice in Korean...

Kimchi bokkeumbap, kimchi fried rice in Korean cuisine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)