Trader Joe’s THAI SWEET GINGER SAUCE


Trade Joe’s new product: THAI SWEET GINGER SAUCE. It seems to be flying off the shelves, people seem to love it. I am guessing mostly for all the frozen DUMPLINGS they buy?

I tried it and I can say it’s pretty good. It is quite thick and garlic-y. Ingredients include pickled garlic, coconut sugar, and coriander. Personally I think it needs more ginger. So I added some fresh grated ginger. For me, it was way better with fresh ginger. However even just poured out of the bottle this stuff is good. Serve this with all of your frozen dumplings obviously, either fried or steamed/boiled ones. Its quite good on sautéed tofu. Grilled chicken of course! Grilled shrimp? Perfect for shrimp or any fish for that matter. Even just try this on top of rice or just grilled veggies. It will add lots of flavor.

THAI SWEET GINGER Sauce is $2.49 for a 10 oz bottle.

Yesterday it was out of stock. It’s popular and people are really buying up this stuff!

Is this replacing the red bottle of SWEET CHILI SAUCE? I am afraid thats gone now. I like both sauces and the chili sauce has been a must have item for me for ever. Sigh. I will have to go back to getting CHILI SAUCE in Chinatown. Its a staple condiment in Asian cuisine.

RANT: TUSCANO MARINARA SAUCE (discontinued) + Marinara RECIPE


“Trader Giotto’s” Low Fat Tuscan Marinara

RANT

Ode to yet another discontinued Trader Joe’s product, a classic rant about an excellent TJ product, which they discontinued! Some people thought this was the best marinara sauce on the market. Many were bumbed to learn TJ’s Discontinued their favorite tomato sauce! So why am I writing about this now? Well the other day I happened to be clearing out my pantry and found I had a can of this Marinara way in the back. I opened it and tasted it and was pretty shocked to see how good it was. This marinara is, or should we say was, a terrific sauce. For one thing it’s not super smooth, it’s full of chunks of tomatoes like a homemade sauce you had put together. The current glass jars of Marinara sauce that Trader Joe’s replaced this with are smooth. I made a pasta dish using this Marinara and the dish turned out really well. I made a pizza with it a few days later which also turned out great. So yes, it’s a crime TJ’s got rid of this great and very useful sauce. Mind boggling. So just posting this Rant and sorry you won’t be able to find this really great product anymore . At least TJ’s still sells the 28 oz cans of crushed or diced tomatoes which will make you a great sauce with little effor. I always have cans of tomatoes in the pantry as well as tomato paste (can and/or tube) So if you are inclined to make your own sauce, which is not hard and I think is worth the little effort it takes. Here’s an EASY HOMEMADE MARINARA RECIPE from NatashasKitchen, link below.

TIP (1) IMO adding a tablespoon of tomato paste at the start will make it even better (2) My mom taught me useful advice: Just double up the recipe when you cook some things because for the same amount of effort you will have another meal. You can also freeze the extra batch.

Pizza from scratch; made using this terrific marinara sauce

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?)

TJ’s Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chiles


We start with vine ripened tomatoes, then we fire roast them to a subtle smokiness before adding organic green chiles… They’re ready to use in salsas, sauces, soups and stews….”

Ingredients: Organic fire roasted tomatoes, organic tomato juice, organic green chili peppers, organic vinegar, sea salt, citric acid, calcium chloride”

These excellent organic diced tomatoes are a great pantry item, and in fact I always keep a few cans in mine as they are such a useful ingredient. They are indeed “fire roasted”, you can even see little bits of char and smell a little smokiness. You can use this as-is on tacos and quesadillas as a simple salsa, or make a slightly improved one quickly in seconds just by just adding a few things (ie, chopped onions, garlic, cilantro). Use this as an ingredient in sauces, stews or soup as you would any canned tomatoes, but these will be tastier than plain ones. These make the base of terrific rices dishes, say cooking some Mexican rice or what have you, mixed in for some of the stock or water. And its great for lots of other cuisines too… I made a delicious Italian Ariabiatta / Puttanesca style pasta with a can of this, olive oil, a spoon of tomato paste, lots of garlic, capers, olives, a spoon of Bomba and some grated Pecorino over the finished pasta (or try this with Gnocchi). It only took about 5 minutes to come together and the finished pasta dish with Gnocchi was delicious. We devoured it.

$1.69 for a 14.5 oz can. There is a plain only tomato version too for $1.49 if you don’t want any green chiles.

GREAT PANTRY ITEM

Trader Joe’s ITALIAN BOMBA, Fermented Calabrian Chili Hot Pepper Sauce


bomba1

RAVE

Since it first appeared, Trader Joe’s Italian “Bomba” Hot Pepper Sauce blew up all over the internet as one of the best new offerings that Trader Joe’s sells. In this case any hype you’ve heard about TJ’s “BOMBA” is 100% justified.

Man oh man, is this stuff incredible. Sorry I won’t say “its the bomb” (ok it is) but I will tell you that we freaking LOVE this stuff, and put it on many many things. Since first trying this its become a condiment that we have to have in the fridge at all times. Let me tell you why.

BOMBA is a condiment made from fermented fresh Calabrian red chile peppers. Naturally by now you’re well aware about how fermentation adds complex flavor elements to foods. You notice just that little bit of funkiness that the fermentation brings, adds a magical addition. Yes the “fifth” flavor of, you guessed it, UMAMI. Giving a taste more complexity. Bomba sauce is a bit spicy but it’s not really spicy. It’s nowhere near that knock-your-head-off bottle of hot sauce with the skull on it spicy. It has a level of spicy PLUS a good deal of flavor. As a test, I just put a small spoon of Bomba in my mouth. While I got “yes this is spicy”, it didn’t want to make me want to drink a glass of milk or anything. I got something beyond just “spicy”, there is a kind of funkiness, even a bit of sweetness. So depending on the amount you use, you can adjust the level of spiciness to your palate, and if you add even just a tiny bit to dishes, I am talking a quarter of a teaspoon, it will add some wonderful flavors underneath that may surprise you.

How to use Bomba sauce? Of course this is going to be great added to tomato sauces, say on pasta or pizza or what have you. But what about other pasta dishes? A spoonful mixed into your Spaghetti Aglio e Olio? For sure! A little bit in your Carbonara? Controversial perhaps but I do it, and it is terrific. What about all those Gnocchi you love from Trader Joe’s? Regular, cauliflower, kale, shelf stable or what have you… OMG folks, a dollop of this Bomba and good olive oil will make your gnocchi soar. Still, Bomba is more than “just for Italian” food. I put a little bit into my scrambled eggs. It’s divine with eggs. A drop of it onto of my buttered, toasted baguette. A small spoon mixed into avocado toast or guacamole. Add some to your next marinade for meat or chicken. Dips and sauces? Perfect. You can mix this up with some Greek yogurt (or mayonnaise for that matter) for an instant wonderful sauce, to top some cooked Chicken Breasts, Shrimp, or Tofu as well. Or try that mix as a dip for some chips. Drizzle some with olive oil and garlic on your roasted veggies. Add a spoon of this to your soup or most any sauce to give it some jazz. I love it on cottage cheese on toast (no, seriously that’s really good). On my sardines on toast. Add some fresh garlic to Bomba. Of course these two go very well together. Asian food?! OMG yes, yes, yes! Honestly the list of things and types of food Bomba can improve and go with is endless and I promise, you will discover uses on your own (if they’re good, please share some with us in the COMMENTS below). TJ’s Bomba is truly a premium gourmet offering. Amazingly Trader Joe’s sells this for $2.99 a jar, which is honestly incredible for such a product. Oh and it’s really Italian, it is a “Product Of Italy”. I have found it sold out on occasion as its a big hit. So if you like it, next time grab an extra jar to keep in the pantry like I do (but just one, leave some for me, and the next guy!) Ingredients are: Chilies, Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Basil, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid.

TIP: I generally add a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil after I open it to “seal the top” off and help keep it fresher for longer too. Keep it in the fridge.

Honestly even if you are not really the “hot sauce” type I suggest you get a jar of this to try. Calabrian chili’s are not super hot; they are in the “medium” spice level. People can pop them in their mouths easily. Personally I can’t live without having a jar of Bomba in the fridge now and if you try this, you may feel exactly the same.

If you tried it and have any Comments please feel free to share them.

TJ’s Plain GREEK YOGURT


RAVE

This is one of those Trader Joe’s products that I basically like to have in my fridge at all times. Why? It’s so useful. I use it all the time, for one thing to make all kinds of tasty sauces in about a minute. You can use it as a substitute for Sour Cream but with less calories (not zero but lower)! Greek yogurt is thick, as it is strained yogurt containing less liquid than regular yogurt. You might say it can be though of as similar to and can be substituted for Sour Cream, or crema in Mexican cooking, or to creme fraiche in French cooking. You could use this anywhere Sour Cream would be used, or mayonnaise perhaps but this is lower in fat and calories. So I use greek yogurt to make creamy sauces or dressing by mixing it with another ingredient. It can be as simple as mixing greek yogurt with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Boom you have a creamy lemony yogurt sauce. Very Greek! This not only makes for a nice salad dressing but is also a nice sauce that would go with grilled chicken or shrimp. Add something else to it and you get even more mileage. Certainly fresh crushed garlic, will make it yet more Greek still. Or mix in some Green Dragon Sauce. Or some Yemeni Zhough. Or Sriracha, as the milkiness of the yogurt tames all of these spicy sauces and makes them smoother and creamy. Along with garlic, chopped parsley, or arugula, or spinach makes a nice green dressing…. your only limits to find things to use this with will be your imagination. For dessert or with fruits, you can mix the yogurt with a pinch of sugar or maple syrup for a lovely sweet, creamy addition. Of course I can put this on my breakfast cereal, but it is richer than regular yogurt, so I keep the amount smaller.

Some more ideas

  • as a breakfast or dessert bowl with banana and blueberries
  • as a topping for chili instead of sour cream
  • as a topping for soups instead of cream
  • as a spread on crackers or bread (try mixing with some ingredients…)
  • as an addition to a pasta sauce instead of cream for extra creaminess

Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt. 16 oz. tub $2.50. A container lasts in my fridge for about a month, depending on how much I use it. So great stuff, try it.

TRADER JOE’S PESTO ALLA GENOVESE


TRADER GIOTTO’S (TRADER JOE’S) PESTO ALLA GENOVESE

Mentioned in an earlier post, Trader Joe’s Pesto (basil pesto) in the glass jar makes an extremely convenient item to always have in your pantry. Whenever you get the mood for a Pasta and Pesto dish simply open a jar of this and add it to pasta (with a little pasta water) and bingo, you made dinner or a side dish to put on your table in under 15 minutes with almost no effort and for very little dough ($3-4)! Add some fresh grated Parmigiano and EVOO and improve it. If you have a little fresh basil to sprinkle on top, even better.

Now if you have ever made pesto yourself, you know it takes a bunch of expensive ingredients (especially the pine nuts) and some effort but the end product is truly amazing as the smell when you open up your blender and that pungent aroma of basil, cheese and garlic hits you and permeates the kitchen. The smell is so heavenly it may knock you off your feet. So having said that I won’t tell you this jar of pesto is as good as if you made your own, let’s be honest, however this jar of TJ’s Pesto is still quite tasty and the convenience of having it in your pantry makes up for a lot and you can (and should) Level Up this stuff with a few easy additions.

Value-wise this is a good deal for $2.49. Yes though you can tell by the fact that is says Sunflower Oil as the first ingredient and not extra virgin olive oil they skimped there to keep it cheap. So fix it up with your own EVOO. This Pesto Genovese is quite decent fixed up, and believe it or not, I kind of preferred this jarred version to a “fresh” one TJ sells in the refrigerated section which costs more. In fact I was pretty surprised that I tried both and compared them and liked this one. You can, in fact you should absolutely tweak this with good ingredients! Drizzle a nice glug of your favorite EVOO plus a nice sprinkle of extra freshly grated Parmigiano and / or Pecorino cheese plus freshly ground black pepper on top of your finished dish. If you have a few sprigs of fresh basil you can tear over it, all the better. For $2.50, this is good value and really worth keeping a jar or two in your pantry as a go-to item to always have on hand. I certainly do, its made us a quick tasty pasta dish a few times when I “had nothing to eat” in the house. Pairs with pasta of course and it’s great with GNOCCHI (frozen or dried).

Trader Joe’s SWEET CHILI SAUCE


RAVE

Apparently this is one of Trader Joe’s most popular products, and not without reason. I know it’s one of my favorite TJ products, on my “gotta always have in fridge” list. As the name says, this is a delicious sweet chili sauce that is pretty much the same traditional Asian sweet and spicy chili sauce you will find at any Asian grocery. It’s both sweet and spicy but not crazy spicy, with a perfect balance of the two tastes plus garlic of course. This sauce is typically served with chicken in many Asian cuisines. I had been buying Chinese brands of this stuff for years whenever I went to a special Asian grocery or supermarket but now Trader Joe’s make a version of it so even more convenient, as we put this sauce on many things though its terrific with most any chicken. If you bought a store cooked rotisserie chicken for dinner, serving with this sauce will that roast chicken 10x as tasty. What else can you use it for. Really anything… Chicken sausages? Yes. Fish? Yes (in fact you can put some on top of almost finished broiled salmon and put it back for a minute for a sweet spicy glaze). Grilled pork. Sure! Eggs? Yes. Get it? Seriously I think there is little this would not be good on, except may ice cream.

Easy dipping sauce for dumplings: a 2 tablespoons of this sweet chili sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a little rice vinegar. Fresh grated ginger if you have it. Easy. Some extra garlic wouldn’t hurt either. Now you have a sauce for all those pot sticker dumplings in the freezer. Dinner in 10 minutes.

A bottle used to sell for only $1.29. Last time I checked it went up to $1.49, not bad. I can’t live without this stuff.

Trader Joe’s ZHOUG SAUCE (SPICY!)


RAVE

Trader Joe’s ZHOUG SAUCE is a deliciously spicy traditional Yemeni / Middle Eastern green hot sauce. When they describe it on the package as “very spicy” in this case TJ’s is not kidding. It’s SPICY as in knock-your-socks-off level. So if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen –  however you can “tame” Zhough a bit easily as I mention later and still enjoy it in moderation for a great flavor addition.

This stuff is a must for me to have in the fridge, always.

ZHOUG is a thick green, herbal sauce made from cilantro, jalapenos and chile flakes, wonderfully seasoned with garlic, cumin and cardamon. Zhoug sauce is simply one of the the most bloody wonderful and unique condiments you may ever taste. I’ve put it on just about everything you can think of…chicken, tofu, eggs, fritattas, pasta, fish…. you name it. You can’t go wrong with this on just about anything you put it on, it will make you smack your lips, oh yeah yum, wow. I suspect it would be good on shoe leather. Now, you will probably use this in small amounts, just a few dashes, as its so spicy, and a little goes a long way, especially as-is out of the box.

Frankly this was even a bit too spicy even for me, kind of a rare statement. So unless you are a total chile-head, capsaicin obsessed, death-head sauce freak, you might even want to “tame” this sauce a tiny bit, as I tried and did easily. I just added some olive oil and lemon juice to cut down the heat ever so slightly by dilution. It was still excellent this way. I also use it mixed into greek yogurt (or regular yogurt) with great success. Yogurt and Zhoug are a very good combo and make a wonderful, easy creamy green Zhough variation. Adjust the ratio of yogurt to zhoug till its perfect for your personal taste. I actually like the Zhoug tamed a wee bit. As is out of the container just a few small dollops is enough to make your mouth on fire. Again if you’re a chile-head,  you will love it, so pour it on.

You will find TJ’s ZHOUG SAUCE in the refrigerated section in an 8 oz container which is $2.99. Frankly this is a steal (but don’t tell TJ’s lest they raise the price) Seriously you should try this. Its a Top-10 TJ product IMO. ZHOUG matches wonderfully with grilled SHAWARMA CHICKEN!

And if you want to try your hand at making ZHOUG yourself here’s a DIY recipe for it I found online

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/diy-trader-joes-zhoug-sauce_n_5b96758ce4b0511db3e480d0

 

Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing


UPDATE: AUG 2020 – Discontinued during Covid-19!

BALLPARK: PERI PERI & Suzie’s MAYO mixed up in whatever “hot” ratio you can take or like is a workaround I am trying. It’s not exactly the same but pretty tasty!

This is one of those “only at Trader Joe’s” products, or at least I’ve never seen another type of product like this one.

I’ll start by saying one could say I am a little bit of a “Sriracha freak”. I mean I love the stuff, and in general I love “the Spicy” but in no way would I deem myself to be one of those chile-head types who go for sauces with “Death Head” logos on the label.  No thanks.

Me, I want a balance of heat AND flavor. Therefore I love – and I mean LOVE – the original Huy Fong Foods SRIRACHA sauce, which is one of the greatest food products on the planet. Its a product who’s fan’s are legion. I will put it on lots of different things. Still I never tried it on SALAD. So guess what? Sriracha Salad Dressing is actually a terrific idea! And Trader Joe’s Organic Sriracha Ranch Dressing  is a terrifically marvelous unique product.

Its a ranch-style salad dressing, which is very spicy. How spicy? Well in its original version, which Trader Joe’s has changed and toned down since I first tasted it, I would have to use this stuff sparingly, as mere dollops. It was actually far, far spicier than actual Sriracha or most hot sauces for that matter. I used to mix it with some yogurt or mayo to tone it down a wee bit, but that is no longer the case. I’m talking about when it originally came out – a year ago? Can others please confirm this change to tone down the heat? I have a feeling people complained it was just too spicy, and they reformulated it with much less of a heat level. Anyway I just bought a bottle and it doesn’t seem nearly as spicy as it used to be, though it is still spicy, and still very good! Not only is  this ranch dressing good on salad or greens of course but it has many, many more uses on all kinds of foods. You can put a little on the side as a sauce for most anything, for instance grilled chicken, or shrimp, or fish, or grilled tofu, or what have you.

In fact you can use this as an ingredient to cook with it. For instance, try brushing this stuff on chicken which you would bake, broil, or grill. Its awesome on hamburgers, mixed with some ketchup for some homemade spicy “special sauce”. Try a little on some asian style noodles… with some chunky organic peanut butter on top? In fact try this on just about anything you think might be better with some spice to it. You will come up with some interesting tests.

So congratulations on a fantastic product, Trader Joe’s. Some chile-heads might be disappointed that you toned down the heat a bit for mere mortals. (But folks, you can mix some Sriracha sauce with this, if you want it spicier still, or add some cayenne pepper and it will be like it used to be). It sells for $2.99 (16 oz. bottle) which is not bad since most TJ salad dressings are 8 oz bottles?

So try this, its one of those love it or hate it type TJ products! Do I love it? Yes, yes, yes! I’m giving this product a:

RAVE

54860-organic-sriracha-ranch-dressing

By the way, the story of HUY FONG FOODS SRIRACHA and it’s founder Vietnamese refugee David Tran, is one of the best American immigrant success stories there is!

ADDITIONAL LINKS

http://nextshark.com/sriracha-hot-sauce-david-tran-vietnamese/

https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/14-things-you-didnt-know-about-sriracha-including-its-proper-pronunciation

https://www.pri.org/stories/2013-10-22/story-how-one-hot-sauce-huy-fong-sriracha-got-so-hot

 

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