TJ’s CALROSE RICE (Japanese rice)


In our house, we eat a lot of rice. For years, I have bemoaned the fact that TJ carried a few kinds of long grain rice (Thai Jasmine, Indian Basmati) which are all terrific, however they didn’t sell short grain rice (aka Japanese rice) ie, “sushi rice”. Well finally they do, this rice pictured.

OK Trader Joe’s Calrose White Medium grain rice is technically a “medium grain” rice however the reality is this is close to an Asian Japonica short grain rice (sushi rice). So finally I can get Asian rice at Trader Joe’s! Seeing this Calrose rice for the first time made me happy. It meant I would have fewer treks in future to H-Mart or Asian supermarkets in Chinatown or Flushing and lugging a 20 lb bag of short grain rice back home on the subway.

So what’s CalRose rice? (yes you guessed it, it’s from California).

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

Maybe you have seen Kokuho Rose brand rice . Or Nishiki? Brands of Calrose “sushi rice” grown in California. Nishiki brand is one popular brand in the US among Japanese.

https://amzn.to/3lbISIH

One thing I should point out. I found the directions on the package stating to “simmer for 30 minutes” crazy talk. That’s twice as long as one normally cooks white rice. Are they kidding? This is not brown rice. If you follow TJ’s instructions you will end up with very overcooked mushy rice. Yuk. So I recommend you cooking it this way. Wash rice gently. Drain rice 10 minutes in a colander to get rid of excess water. Put in pan adding 1 1/4 cups of water. Add a little salt. Turn heat to high and cover with a tight fitting lid. Set timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes check rice. You should see some “holes” with almost no water left. Turn heat to lowest setting. Cook for another 6-7 minutes. Turn off heat. Don’t open lid! Leave covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes rice should be perfect. Fluff rice with fork or chopsticks. Taste test it. If you really think its not done put on low heat for another 5 minutes. You’re welcome. (If you’re Japanese like my wife you will say, no don’t add any salt, but I prefer a adding a bit. Gomen!)

A 2 lb. bag of Trader Joe’s Calrose Medium Grain rice is $2.49. Pretty decent price as rice has gone up in price a lot since a few years ago.

Can you make sushi with this? You certainly can. Or easier – serve this rice with Spicy Tuna (with mayo and Sriracha) and sheets of Nori (TJ seaweed snacks) and some slices of cucumber for some easy sushi style hand rolls. 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 (better I think) than plain brown rice.

It’s a quite tasty blend of long grain par-boiled brown rice, plus two slightly unusual additions, black barley and daikon seeds. Who knew you can eat daikon seeds? We tried this rice blend and it got both mine and my wife’s seal of approval as making a very tasty and slightly nutty tasting rice side dish.

I have found Trader Joe’s instructions need a tiny bit of modification.

Bring water to a boil. I would reduce the amount of liquid they suggest so instead of the 2 1/2 cups they suggest I say try 2 1/4 cups of water or stock (to 1 cup of rice). Also if using just water, add a bit a salt. 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 some butter is a good idea! Serve with your favorite main.

Its $1.99 for a 1 pound bag. Worth trying.

PS If you find it a bit mushy, the next time you make it reduce the cooking to 30 minutes plus the 10 minutes covered resting.

Trader Joe’s KIMCHI


Trader Joe’s KIMCHI (Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage)

Ingredients: Napa Cabbage, Radish, Onion, Red Pepper Powder, Salt, Garlic, Vinegar, Lactic Acid (Made in Korea)

I love kimchi. OK I’m a bit picky about it too. I want the good stuff, meaning something someone who is Korean would say “that’s good kimchi”. As someone who has Korean in-laws, and adores Korean cuisine, I have eaten a good deal of different – and excellent – varieties of Kimchi so I can really taste whats good Kimchi from “just OK”. Kimchi is tricky. It’s a very specific preparation and Korean taste. It’s probably best made by a Korean grandma. For commercially made Kimchi to be good, they must get everything right in manufacturing it in bulk. It’s tricky to sell as you have to rotate stock. It can build up pressure as it sits on the shelves too long (I have had a brand called Mother In Laws Kimchi almost explode on opening like a shook up Coke)!

Historically Trader Joe’s has tried their hand at selling Kimchi in their stores a few times and in different packages. Over the last few years, I would see Kimchi at TJ’s and eventually it seemed to go away(?) Either they discontinued it for a spell or maybe they were finding other vendors and changing the packaging, or all of the above. Before TJ’s current version sold in this red plastic jar, they carried kimchi in a soft plastic bag (see link) as well as a glass jar.

Frankly I have never been super impressed when I tried TJ’s Kimchi usually saying “not bad, it’s OK”.

So my short review of of TJ’s latest kimchi is still “it’s OK”. It’s not great but it’s decent. I think this one is better than the ones they sold previously? I have to be honest that it’s better than no Kimchi, if you can’t easily find kimchi where you live. I’m glad TJ at least is trying with Kimchi and Korean foods in general. I can’t say this latest TJ kimchi is as good as kimchi you would get from a Korean supermarket like H-Mart or even a small Korean owned fruit and veg grocer where the owners sell kimchi themselves. I have a Korean owned fruit and veg store near where they sell kimchi which is quite decent.

So on the plus side this Trader Joe’s Spicy Fermented Napa Cabbage Kimchi does have that tangy kimchi fermented taste (from lactic acid, interestingly which is listed on the label as an ingredient?) It says “spicy” but I don’t find it terribly spicy though I imagine this is a personal opinion. So to sum up if you can’t get Kimchi anywhere else this is one is “not bad”, its fairly decent (though my wife says otherwise). Its about $4 for a 10 oz. jar. Honestly I’m happy that at least Trader Joe’s sells kimchi, period. Maybe they will eventually find a terrific Korean kimchi vendor. Until then we can at least make do with this.

And definitely try making some kimchi fried rice! That will turn out well as cooked kimchi mellows out and adds great flavors.

https://www.thekitchn.com/trader-joes-has-kimchi-here-are-6-ways-to-use-it-183085

Besides eating kimchi uncooked you can also make some dishes with it. Kimchi is great as an ingredient, cooked. For example “Buta Kimchi (Pork & Kimchi)” (recipe: https://uncutrecipes.com/EN-Recipes-Japanese/Buta-Kimchi.html)

And especially KIMCHI FRIED RICE. Or BIBIMBAP.

Finally, think about some DIY Kimchi! It’s not hard to make actually. If you buy a few ingredients at a Korean grocer (like Kochugaru, Korean ground red pepper) its not terribly hard to make your own kimchi and I bet the result will be better than TJ’s and make you feel like a star when you impress people saying “I made it”. Aaron & Claire on YouTube have a good “easy kimchi” recipe made from regular cabbage (it’s a “summer kimchi”) I made it and my (Korean-Japanese) wife who has always said the TJ kimchi is no good told me the cabbage one I made based on Aaron& Claire’s recipe was amazing. It’s great one day later and will be improve more and more being just amazing in two weeks as it ferments in the fridge. Seriously, if you want good kimchi, you will be surprised that you can make really good stuff on you own! Thanks Aaron & Claire for a super recipe.

You can find Sesame Oil at Trader Joe’s. If you can’t find Korean GOCHUJANG (chili paste) easily where you live, you can at least find it on AMAZON : https://amzn.to/3lf7IYg

As well as Korean Red Pepper Flakes (Gochugaru) – needed for making kimchi

https://amzn.to/2UYxh5p

TJ’s PERI-PERI SAUCE


RAVE

Trader Joe’s PERI-PERI SAUCE with fermented and dried chilies

This is as the label says: “A CONDIMENT WITH RICH COMPLEX HEAT”.

Peri-peri sauce is one of those Trader Joe’s products that currently seems to be all over the Internet. So naturally I decided I better check it out. First thing to tell you is TJ”s Peri-Peri sauce is HOT! I’m talking spicy with a capital S, as in the spiciest product I have ever tasted from Trader Joe’s. It remided me of the first time I tasted TJ’s original super spicy (and sadly discontinued) Organic SRIRACHA RANCH dressing (sigh!).

I opened up the Peri-peri sauce and just tasted a wee bit on a teaspoon by itself. OMG. My mouth lit up on fire. Though I’m not a chili-head, I enjoy “spicy” and can take most levels of heat, however this Peri-peri was way up there. It took a while for my mouth and taste buds to calm down and I thought, this sauce is way too spicy. But then I found the “secret” to using Peri-peri, is to use it really sparingly. Small even tiny amounts and you will get its flavors. Note, it’s pretty liquid-y so be careful pouring it lest you get way more than you want. I usually first put some on a spoon to gently dole it out in little dots of sauce.

Once I realized about using in sparingly I started to really love this stuff. It’s very flavor and quite complex with a ton of umami going on as well as “spicy”. The bottle which I expected would last me a few months is already 2/3 gone in just a few weeks! So Peri-Peri may even be addictive.

This label says Product of South Africa. Peri-Peri sauce is popular in South Africa, though it’s origins are from elsewhere in Africa, Mozambique or going even back going back to Portugal.

https://www.nandosperiperi.com/what-is-peri-peri

It’s a lovely orange color. The first ingredient listed on the label interestingly enough is LEMON JUICE. So there is a citrus-y background level behind the spiciness which I find works perfectly. Peri-peri recipes traditionally call for tiny birds eye chilies which are super spicy. The label does not specify exactly what chilies are in it but it does say “fermented” as well as dried chilies. As TJ’s BOMBA SAUCE also uses fermented chilies, from which you get a lot more complex flavors than just “hot”. It also lists garlic,salt, dried chilies and xanthan gum (it’s a thickener).

What is this good on? What have I tried it on? Perhaps a better question is what haven’t I tried this on? I’ve tried it on almost everything! For one simple thing I so love this sauce on something so simple as cottage cheese (on toast or a bagel or crackers…) Again I just need a few dots of sauce here and there. It’s simply magnificent with chicken, which is what it was created for (Peri-peri chicken). I will next try it on chicken breasts marinated in the sauce. In fact if you marinate chicken in some Peri-Peri sauce, you will find its just stunning. Use some oil too of course and easy on the peri-peri till you learn its heat level, though cooking will of course mellow this out. I’ve mixed a little of the peri-peri even into some ketchup and that was fantastic with hamburgers. A bit on grilled shrimp or fish? Yes, yes, yes. If you experiment with this (cautiously) and you will no doubt come up with some great combinations of things this sauce is good on. Oh, and you can of course mix it with something, say mayonnaise or greek yogurt in whatever ratio you like and come up with a fantastic sauce in seconds.

Trader Joe’s PERI-PERI sauce comes in a glass bottle of about 7 ounces for $3.29. I think this is really worth checking out. And check out this recipe for grilled Peri-Peri Chicken which you could whip up using this I think.

https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/recipes/peri-peri-chicken/

Want to learn about the peri-peri (piri-piri) chili ?

https://hotsaucefever.com/hot-peppers/piri-piri/

TJ’s Giant Peruvian Inca Corn (Choclo) Snack


Trader Joe’s Giant Inca Peruvian Corn salted snacks.

These are my new favorite snacks. Crunchy. As in Super Crunchy. I think these are just delicious.

“PRODUCT OF PERU” From a variety of Inca Corn called “Choclo”. which has HUGE kernels grown in the Andes Mountains.

It says only three ingredients, CORN, oil, salt. OK, I wish it wasn’t palm oil but only 3 ingredients with the main one of course just corn. So healthier I think then say potato chips. Filled with corn-y goodness.

$1.99 bag.

Gluten Free of course!

TJ’s Roasted Whole Golden Flax Seeds (Omega-3 !)


Trader Joe’s Roasted Golden Flax Seeds (whole seeds) – “Naturally rich in Omega-3, Lignans and Dietary Fiber”

You may know that flax seeds are probably one of the healthiest things you can eat. We’re talking Super Food healthy ! For one thing flax seeds are loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and are high in protein and fiber. Heart health: studies have shown just by eating 2 tablespoons of flax seeds a day, they can lower blood pressure 10-20 points. Personally every day I eat 2 spoons of flax seeds, which I grind up and mix with yogurt and/or soy milk in my breakfast cereal. I add some chia seeds to boot! You can also put theses in your smoothies.

Up to now I bought flax seeds (raw) in Bulk at a health food store. Then I saw these Roasted Flax Seeds at Trader Joe’s. After trying them I decided these are better tasting than the other ones. Why? Roasting them definitely improves the flavor of flax seeds making them more nutier tasting and crunchier.

You can either eat them whole or grind them up (coffee grinder or morter and pestle). You can sprinkle flax seeds on your morning cereal, put them into baked goods and sneak them into foods like baked goods as well as add them to your smoothies.

$2.99 / 15 oz bag

TJ’s Hot & Sweet Jalapeños


RAVE

TJ’s Hot & Sweet Jalapeño Slices

These are SO good! Another simply brilliant condiment, something Trader Joe’s seems especially good at coming up with. Slices of picked jalapeños with organic cane sugar added to make them Hot & Sweet which makes for an even improved version over TJ’s regular pickled jalapeños (also excellent). First off yes these are HOT – even hotter than the regular TJ pickled jalapeños. There are whole dried red chilis in the jar plus it says pureed jalapeños also to ramp up the heat level.

My wife and I dream up new ideas for things to put these on. Last night we put them on top of grilled hamburgers (on toasted brioche bread). Ok this is a no-brainer and of course they were freakin’ delicious on hamburgers… or hot dogs or sausages or sandwiches. For breakfast this morning I put a few slices of these hot and sweet babies on my toasted half a bagel with cottage cheese. They went perfectly with the mellow cottage cheese to spice up something that otherwise would be pretty boring. Great combo. The bottle has good suggestions on the label, such as add them chopped up to your guacamole. For that matter add some chopped up on top of your avocado toast! Grilled cheese? Oh yes, these go perfectly put some in with the cheese before you grill them so they mix into that melted cheese (chopped or whole if you want big spicy bites). Scrambled eggs? Oh yes, again delicious. Ditto with cream cheese and crackers. Brilliant. Especially with the Red Chili Crackers. For nachos? Another no-brainer. Finally do not ignore TJ’s suggestion about not wasting that leftover juice in the bottle for using in marinades. This hot and spicy pickle juice is amazing. I keep of bottle of just that in the fridge.

Here’s just one idea: SPICY CHICKEN – Marinate BONELESS CHICKEN (BREASTS or THIGHS) in the spicy juice for a 1 hour. Then grill them with a sprinkle of Ajika Georgian seasoning. When done, spoon a little extra spicy syrup on top of the finished grilled breasts with their juices. Dot with a few slices of the jalapeños. You’re welcome.

$2.50/12 oz jar

TJ’s Washable PAPER PLACE MATS


Trader Joe’s Washable Paper Placemats

Wait up, what….?!!! Trader Joe’s sells place mats? Yeah you read that right. These place mats recently appeared in the New Products “home goods” area at my TJ. Looking at them they so totally say “IKEA” cool to me. These intrigued me, then reading the label about how they’re made from “Supernatural Paper” (!) that really got me interested. Honestly I’m always intrigued that TJ’s has any home goods type things at all. They seem to especially appear around the holidays (I slightly regret not getting some olive wood bowls and cutting boards I saw last Xmas but they were a bit pricey even for TJ’s, but they looked beautiful and handmade). Anyway since we needed to replace some old place mats and these were just $10 bucks for a set of 4, I just grabbed them in kind of an impulse buy. I picked a darkish color out of the 4-5 colors on offer as I thought this darker grey / green color would hide dirt best. These mats are on the thin side meaning when you pick up a glass that was on them you may see a little ring depression where it was, but it brushed out easily by just swiping it with my fingers. They have what I might call all kind of faux leather texture. Feels a little like thick waxed rubbery paper? I believe there are two pieces sown together. “MADE WITH SUPERNATURAL PAPER (cellulose and latex). Latex = rubber. They say “CAN BE WASHED” (hand wash separately). I think I will avoid that if possible, and just wipe/wash them daily. Wiping them clean with a soapy sponge seems to work fine. I had a little stain from some food and just wiped the mat with a damp rag with a little soap and that took off the stain as I hoped. So the rubbery, waxy covering seems to work. I like them for a change from our textile place mats. My wife complained about the white stitching they have on the edges but that doesn’t bother me at all, I kind of like it. They have a funky feel going on…in a good Ikea way. The more I have used them and lived with them I have grown to like them more and really dig the funky Ikea-ness of these.

If you see them, check them out at least with a feel and see what you think. They are $10 for set of 4 mats ($2.50 each) and come in about 5 or 6 colors. Personally I would lean to the dark / earthy colors for hiding stains.

I found this online. Are they the makers of “Supernatural Paper”?

Trader Joe’s “JUST BEETS” 100% beet juice


Trader Joe’s JUST BEETS 100% juice plus a splash of lemon

“Naturally sweetened with a subtle earthiness” As the name says this is “100% pure beet juice pressed from whole beets (with just a hint of lemon from concentrate)”. Trader Joe’s carries this in the refrigerated drinks section, so it’s fresh. Kind of what you might get if you went into one of those fancy juice bars except this was not made right in front of you by a cool tattooed up Juice Guy with a goatee throwing beets into a juicer who charges you seven bucks plus a tip. Still I think this tastes fresh enough so that if you shook it up hard, put it in a carryout cup with a cover, told me you just bought this from a cool tattooed juice guy I would probably have no reason to think otherwise 😉 Though it has a pretty long “good by” date, I think it tastes best within 3-5 days after you open the bottle so I drink it within a few days. Personally I would not down the whole bottle in one sitting. I have a nice big shot glass of this every day (3-4 oz?). The label states 80 calories in 8 oz. You get 20 oz for $3.99 which is probably less than that fancy juice bar would charge.

I love beets. I like this juice. It’s healthy and good for you, and drinking this every day can help lower your blood pressure! Just remember later in the bathroom to relax and think “Oh yeah I had those beets today.” You know what I mean, you are OK and not peeing blood. Beets do that to you.

RAVE

Trader Joe’s GRAINLESS GRANOLA


RAVE

“SWEET AND SALTY CLUSTERS MADE WITH ALMONDS, COCONUT, SUNFLOWER AND PUMPKIN SEEDS”.

This is a newish Trader Joe’s product, “GRAINLESS GRANOLA” – Meaning no oats/grains, and mainly nuts. THIS STUFF IS AMAZING! When you cut open the bag, a huge waft of coconut smell hits you right in the nose. You look inside and see clumps and clusters of Almonds, Coconut, Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds in a “salty, sweet” combination that is quite irresistible. I started just popping a few clusters into my mouth and they are delicious just like this, as a snack. I could have eaten the whole bag if I didn’t stop myself. I can easily see Moms filling little baggies with this for yummy healthy Snackables.

Next I put some of this cereal in a bowl with milk and yogurt and banana and it was even more delicious. Now I love granola, the regular kinds with oats, so for me there is no reason to be “grain-less” other than this is simply super delicious. I even put this on top of my regular granola as a crunchy topping. Ditto on my cooked steel cut oats. My suggestion is add some dried fruits, like cranberries or raisins which makes this Grainless Granola even better. As oats are fairly cheap and nuts are expensive, naturally this granola minus oats costs more than the regular granolas TJ sells, but its still a good deal and its so good you probably won’t care too much.

TJ’s got this one right and has a major hit here I think. Grainless Granola is $4 for a 10 oz bag. Try this, you will no doubt love it as much as I did. And yes it’s of course Vegan and Gluten Free. I guess its kind of aimed at “Paleo” people, which I’m not but frankly it’s something any homo sapiens will love.

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