TJ’s Smoked Ahi Tuna


Trader Joe’s Sesame Crusted Smoked Ahi Tuna

I am crazy for most any smoked fish. Some nice smoked salmon on a bagel with a shmear of cream cheese is my idea of Heaven, or at least a heavenly Sunday breakfast. I also love Ahi Tuna, so when I saw this new product, Smoked Ahi Tuna it immediately said to me, “give this a try”.

TJ’s Sesame Crusted Smoked Ahi Tuna is very, very lightly smoked. As in barely smoked. Unlike most smoked salmon, where you open up the package and really get a smoked fish aroma this is so light that its a mere hint. So to be honest, while I found TJ’s smoked ahi tuna to be kind of tasty it’s not anything like smoked salmon or most any smoked fish I’ve had. Maybe people who don’t love smoked fish might like this as it’s not strong, its light. It has a light pink color and looks rather pretty. There are some white thread-like areas (more on this later*). It was cut a bit unevenly so it was a little thick in some places and thin in others. I found the thinner cut tuna tasted better than thicker areas. Cutting smoked fish by hand is an art.

What I didn’t like at all about this product were white thread-like areas, some of which when you ate them were tough and inedible. Like sinew.,,, do tuna have sinew? I guess they do! You can see the white thread like areas in the package. I carefully cut the densest of the white areas away before serving, which was a pain. These tough white areas seem like a lack of quality of the tuna and its preparation. These *white thread sinews are tough and inedible. Not good!

Anyway I served it by putting the smoked Ahi Tuna on top of halves of TJ’s Red Chile scalloped crackers (LOVE THESE!) spread with softened cream cheese mixed with a pinch of greek yogurt and lemon, and topped it all off with fresh dill. This actually did make a nice combination and a nice appetizer for us. Still our guests and I couldn’t help thinking it would have been better made with smoked salmon. So would I buy this again? Frankly I doubt it as it was not terribly special, was not great quality and I think the smoked salmon TJ sells is better for the same price. However if are not big on smoked fish and/or want to try something different for all I know you just might like this as it’s barely smoked fish. A package is $6.

I would not buy this again myself.

RANT

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

If you are at Trader Joe’s looking for shrimp, these are the best ones they sell. 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, not farmed. Wild shrimp are said to have better flavor than farmed shrimp. These Argentinian Red Shrimp are fished in the icy waters off Argentina’s coast in Patagonia. They’re individually flash frozen, cleaned and ready to use. They’re a decent size (20/25 count aka “Large”). Are these “the sweetest shrimp in the world”? … well even if some marketer came up with that, they actually do taste sweet and so have a “lobster-y” taste and texture. (If you are interested in learning more here’s detailed info about “Patagonian Red Shrimp”) You 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 bag with a plate). They should be defrosted in 15-20 minutes. OR this 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. Cooking from frozen: One can but I would not recommend if possible. They will shrink more and be tougher. Nor would I nuke them to defrost them personally.

Cooking: Cook them as you normally cook any shrimp. These do cook a wee bit faster so 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 again, now 11.99!

More cooking ideas follow.

I made a nice Thai Shrimp Curry with these shrimp, 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 (Option: Add a 1/2 cup Coconut Milk for the liquid)) Simmer for 10 minutes, then add in a jar of TJ Thai Red Curry sauce and simmer another 10 minutes or until all the veggies are just tender. The last 2 minutes of cooking, you add your shrimp and simmer gently in the sauce, stirring occasionally. Serve the curry with jasmine rice and add chopped scallions on top.

Shrimp Roll on Brioche Bun

Here’s one more: As these shrimp are “lobster-y” they are perfect to make a New England style Shrimp Roll (aka Poor Man’s Lobster Roll). Gently poach shrimp 90 seconds or so. Remove and let cool, split or cut them up and mix with a little mayo and lemon juice, then put them in a lightly toasted buttered Brioche bread or Brioche Bun (spread with a little mayo) If you have it sprinkle a little Old Bay seasoning or dill seasoning) on top. Easy and delicious.

RECIPE: RED SHRIMP WITH HONEY ALEPPO SAUCE – https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/honey-aleppo-shrimp

(NB: TJ’s recipe here says cook the shrimp for 5-10 mins; I suggest just ignore this unless you want really overcooked shrimp! Cook these shrimp no more than 2 minutes)

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)