Trader Joe’s “THAI WHEAT NOODLES”


NEW PRODUCT

I was so happy to see these packages of vacuum packed fresh noodles in Trader Joe’s NEW ITEMS area recently. I think sometime in the past Trader Joe’s sold some kind of fresh Asian noodle (rice noodles?) but none I can recall for a few years. Trader Joe’s “Thai Wheat Noodles” are a pretty typical Asian style noodle. Think Udon maybe? As far as these being “Thai” these are as much Chinese or Japanese as they are Thai. They do say Product of Thailand hence the name. These can be used for any kind of Asian dish. A 21 oz package is $2.99. They’re basically cooked and ready to use and come in 3 individual bags of about 1 portion each, ready to use in a recipe. Each bag has about 7 ounces of noodles. To me frankly that makes a skimpy portion of noodles for one and I wish these had just a bit more in a pack, say 8 ounces each for a more decent portion. I found one bag will make a portion for one for a finished noodle dish factoring in other added stuff. So I definitely suggest you “beef it up” with stuff: veggies, proteins, etc. For my dish (pictured below) I had a a few pieces of cooked chicken tenderloins in my fridge so I topped it with this chicken plus a lot of scallions and slivered cucumbers. I basically used the recipe they have on the box for “Sesame Scallion Noodles”. TIP: Right out of the package these noodles are really stuck together into an almost impenetrable noodle brick. To get them unstuck and loose I really had to work at them using chopsticks and tongs to get them loosened when I added the liquid sauce ingredients. It was not easy to get them loosened up. So I experimented the next time I made them with hot/boiling water first. You can use very hot or boiled water, rinsing them in a bowl / colander. I used my fingers/chopsticks/tongs to get them as unstuck as possible. Then rinsed them in cold water and drained them. That worked better to prep them before adding them to your dish so suggest you try this.

You can of course also use these noodles in any stir fried dish of your own choosing. Some other ideas for toppings would be some grilled pork (Cha Siu?), grilled shrimp, or even just a fried egg on top with some Gojujang. I would say these wheat noodles are basically the same as Japanese “Udon” – so you could use them in Japanese cooking, say you could make “YAKIUDON“. I did a kind of YAKI UDON with these and it worked. The recipe on the box for “SESAME SCALLION NOODLES” worked fairly well when I made it. Another tip: The recipe on the box is for just one package so double or triple the recipe if you are making more than one otherwise you will not have enough sauce. The recipe on the box is a basic recipe that you can modify as you wish. I added a heaping tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter to it, to make it more “Thai”. I also used a little Bomba to spice it up. These noodles are handy and not bad at about a buck a portion, even if they don’t match up to fresh noodles you would find at an Asian grocery. One more thing I just thought of, you could say add these to Trader Joe’s GINGER MISO soup and come up with a noodle version of that! I hope TJ’s keeps these around so check them out so they see they are selling!

I would buy these again.

VEGAN

My finished noodle dish with slivers of cucumber and scallions and topped with some slices of chicken. Very tasty!
Turn on Subtitles (English)

Trader Joe’s KOREAN BEEFLESS BULGOGI (with recipe hack)


“Plant based Bulgogi style strips marinated in a sweet and savory soy sauce”

Bulgogi is a popular Korean BBQ dish consisting of grilled marinated beef. It’s delicious. Trader Joe’s frozen “Korean Beef-less Bulgogi is their vegan version, consisting of small pieces of mock meat made from soy protein, wheat gluten and other things. Judging from the internet, this product seems to be a bit of a hit especially with vegetarians of course (which I am not). The mock bulgogi strips have a pleasantly chewy texture that kind of make it resemble beef with a pleasantly chewy but tender texture. There isn’t really any sauce on these and I promise these will be tastier with some kind of sauce on them. A no-brainer sauce for these would be some Korean Gochujang (red pepper paste, $1.99 at Trader Joe’s). You can make a fast easy sauce which will match well with the strips with it and give it a little bit of sweet heat. You can either sauté these and cook in a little Gochujang or put it on top after cooking which is what I did (see below)

TJ’s Bulgogi Vegan Strips cooked up into a tasty Stir Fry with vegetables and a little seasoning

Ingredients include soy sauce, pear puree, onion, garlic, apple puree, sugar, cornstarch, guar gum, soy protein, rice flour, wheat gluten and soybean oil

To best enjoy these, what I strongly suggest is don’t do this lazy thing I see on the ‘net about these TJ Beefless Bulgogi strips where people say all they do is microwave this package and put them on top of a bowl of rice. People exclaim “this is the bomb”. Wow, that is a such a low bar. Makes we wonder if these folks ever tasted real Korean cooking where a dishes flavors can explode all over your taste buds? Anway, to me just nuking the package and putting this on rice may be edible but that is so boring people! I suggest you think of these strips as an ingredient, as the main protein to cook up into a dish with. Make a stir fry for instance using these strips which will take you ten minutes of work, most of which is cutting up veggies. Below is one recipe stir fry idea for these vegan strips. First off, these will taste better if you get a nice sear on them, so suggest don’t just nuke them, you should definitely cook them in a pan or wok to brown them up a bit. You can throw a dish together in about 10 minutes with just a little effort. Defrosting needed?! Yes. TJ’s often says “Heat From Frozen” on the package. I disagree about cooking food from frozen – something TJ’s often recommends on their packages (again, geared towards making everything “easy”?) Anyway I do suggest defrosting these before cooking. They defrost fairly quickly. I just left the package in my fridge overnight. Or you could take it out in the morning for that night’s dinner. Or just leave the bag on the counter for maybe an hour or two? In a pinch you could just run water over the (unopened) bag in a bowl till the strips are defrosted. See below for a Stir Fry recipe featuring the “Bulgogi Strips”….

So how close is this to actual beef Bulgogi? First off I should state I’m and omnivore, not Vegan. I adore real Bulgogi especially in a smoky Korean BBQ restaurant using old school charcoal. These Beefless Strips don’t compare but THEY ARE pretty good and do slightly resemble beef though they won’t fool an omnivore that they’re beef. However frankly my Korean wife ate my Stir Fry dish and until I told here this was Vegan and not real beef she she didn’t know at first. What they got right here, is the chewy texture, which is good, it’s a little “beefy and chewy”. But I totally recommend you fix them up as mentioned above and cook them into something tasty, where they are an ingredient and not just the star of the show. A package was $3.49. (Yikes. they went up since I wrote this; now 4.29?) If real beef, at least 10 or 12 bucks I would guess.

Note: While this is Vegan it is NOT Gluten Free as it contains Wheat Gluten. In fact Gluten is what gives this the nice, chewy texture. Buddhist have been using Wheat Gluten to make Vegetarian Mock Meat for a thousand years. This is what “Seitan” is.

RECIPE – EASY BEEFLESS BULGOGI STIR FRY : Put a tablespoon of TJ’s Toasted Sesame Oil (or any oil) in a wok or pan. On medium heat, add the defrosted bulgogi strips in a single layer and let them brown and get seared (maybe 3-5 minutes?). Don’t move them around until they are seared. When they are, add vegetables* of your choosing, cut into bite size pieces. In the dish in the picture above I used 3 cloves of sliced garlic (fresh garlic is a must) 1/2 an onion, 2 sticks of celery, 1/2 a yellow pepper. Increase the veggies as you see fit. Sauté the veggies with the strips for about 5 minutes, stir frying them till crispy tender. I seasoned this for a little more flavor. Add 1 Tbs soy sauce, and a 1/2 tsp of TJ’s Red Boat fish sauce if you have it. Add a tablespoon of Palm Sugar or honey and little ACV, lime or lemon juice for acidity. Turn off the heat and add another teaspoon or two of Toasted Sesame Oil. If you have them, sprinkle on sesame seeds and chopped scallions. I suggest drizzling Gochujang sauce over the top. For a super easy sauce, just mix a tablespoon or two of Gochujang with an equal amount water slowly until its a smooth sauce. Serve with rice of course. Also – Soft lettuce with these is nice (to make “Saam” lettuce wraps) If you want to be a bit lazy and not have to cut up * vegetables, you can just buy a pack of TJ’s frozen Asian veggies mix and cook that with these strips after the browning part.

Trader Joe’s GARLIC SPREAD / DIP (with Spinach recipe hack)


This has become one of my favorite items at Trader Joe’s! If you love garlic as much as I do, you too will love thier “GARLIC SPREAD DIP” . It’s great and has become yet one more TJ’s must have item I have to always have in the fridge now. I think of it as much as an ingredient as a “spread”. You can add a spoon of this to a dish to give things an immediate flavor boost, almost like you would fresh garlic. I put this in mashed potatoes, spinach, pasta, hummus…. It’s so versatile. It makes a great spinach dish. I came up with a super quick recipe hack using just 2 things: frozen) spinach and this stuff. See my “recipe”below.

Quite a few countries have some type of garlic spread like this. In Lebanese cooking, they have the garlic spread called “Toum” (and basically TJ’s spread is Toum). In Greece, they have a spread called “Skordalia” made from garlic, olive oil and potato. In the South of France they have the yummy yellow garlicky mayonnaise called, “Aioli” famously served on toasted baguette slices alongside Bouillabaisse. Mashed garlic acts as an emulsifier with oil to make a spread. Trader Joe’s version like Lebanese toum is an emulsified paste of garlic, oil, lemon juice and salt, traditionally made in a mortar and pestle. They did not skimp on garlic. TJ’s GARLIC SPREAD is so garlicky it’s not funny. True garlic lovers will want to try this on everything. So what can you use this Garlic Spread on? To start with just try it on thin slices of toasted baguette, which will be match well with a salad or soup like croutons or garlic bread. This stuff is especially good for any pasta dish. Just toss in a spoonful into your finished pasta, especially tomato pasta (PESTO ROSSO? Add some of this to jazz it up! Use this instead of butter for cooking grilled cheese sandwiches. Put a little into your tuna or egg salad. Eggs, try some in an Omelet for some kick. Salmon or other fish, for sure. I’ve found it’s fantastic in mashed potatoes to jazz them up. Almost any vegetable dish will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this vegan garlic spread, so it’s ideal for vegans and vegetarians as well as us non-vegetarians. It was amazing on the CHICKEN SHAWARMA. Greek yogurt plus some of this spread makes and instant super easy tasty sauce. Here’s a recipe I came up with using spinach. This is a great tasting spinach dish in under 2 minutes.

SPINACH WITH GARLIC SPREAD RECIPE – Two ingredients: frozen spinach and garlic spread. Toss the spinach in a pan with a little olive oil (or butter) and cook for a few minutes till done (keep it bright green!) then add in a nice heaping tablespoon of this Garlic Spread and mix. Fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt if needed. DONE. It will look a little bit creamy and taste absolutely delish. If you want squeeze on a few more sprinkles of fresh lemon.

In fact most vegetable dishes will be enhanced with a spoon or two of this VEGAN spread, so it’s ideal for vegans / vegetarians to give a enormous flavor boost to most things. One thing to remember, it does have calories. It’s mostly oil, like mayonnaise. 2 Tbls have about 150 calories. Its $2.99. GREAT ITEM! I would buy this again

Trader Joe’s PEANUT & CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT


“CRISPY NOODLE SALAD KIT: The crispy part of the kit includes a package of tiny fried rice “CRISPY NOODLES”. The problem? After you put on dressing? These become “Not Crispy” Noodle bits.

Pros: The Asian style Peanut Dressing they give you is tasty. It’s a bit similar to TJ’s Organic Sesame Dressing (so you could make something like this yourself using that dressing)

Cons: Cabbage as the first ingredient in the salad. I thought it was cut way too big so the salad is a bit tough and too chewy. The softer Romaine lettuce, not cabbage, should have been the first ingredient IMO, plus this cabbage should be sliced thinner. However the main problem with this whole idea for a “Crispy Noodle salad kit” is obvious. The moment you mix in those “crispy noodles” (which are tiny, see pic) with the dressing and mix it all in, the “crispy noodles” become not crispy, of course. Maybe if they used some larger kind of crispy noodles, maybe like the kind you get in a Chinese restaurant? For me, these little fried rice noodles are a Fail. We both though this salad just wasn’t good. I won’t buy it again. Its goes for $3.99. You want crispy? What might work is add some lightly crushed PLANTAIN CHIPS to this. Or croutons.

Trader Joe’s VEGAN BRIOCHE LOAF


Saw this yesterday at Trader Joe’s New Product area. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks pretty interesting if you’re Vegan – which I’m not.

Has anyone tried this yet? If so, please leave a comment with what you thought of this.

Trader Joe’s GREEN JACKFRUIT & recipe for Pulled BBQ Jackfruit


My DIY Pulled Jackfruit on Aloha Bun with coleslaw

Jackfruit is a tropical fruit, popular with vegetarians as a “meat substitute”. When cooked it can have the texture of “pulled meat” such as pulled pork or chicken or ropa vieja. It doesn’t have much taste but it easily absorbs flavors and sauces and it’s quite good cooked up with BBQ sauce as “pulled jackfruit”. Trader Joe’s carried a pouch of PULLED JACK FRUIT IN SMOKY BBQ SAUCE in a green foil pouch (see below) but it got discontinued. Alot of people liked it and I did too, despite not being vegetarian. TJ’s does sell this can of JACKFRUIT so you can make the same thing fairly easily yourself, just mixing this can of jackfruit with your favorite BBQ sauce. A can is only $1.99 too!

How does one use Trader Joe’s Green Jackfruit in Brine, you ask? It takes on a “meaty” texture, and, much like tofu, absorbs the flavors of sauces. Our favorite preparation involves cooking jackfruit in barbecue sauce, where it eventually shreds like pulled pork, ready to be piled on a warm Honey Wheat Hamburger Bun and crowned with crunchy cabbage.

UPDATE: This is in stores again.

what it looks in the can; frankly not too appetizing, yet!
after cooking the Jackfruit; Now it looks pretty good!

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/pulled-jackfruit-sandwich

HOW TO MAKE PULLED JACKFRUIT MINI SLIDER BUNS: After opening the can, dump the liquid out and put the fruit into a colander. Rinse the jackfruit thoroughly and drain it. To get the texture, I just used my fingers and crushed up the jackfruit piece by piece. The seeds you can mash or crush or leave as is. Sauté the jackfruit in a pot in some EVOO (or butter) for about 5 minutes on low heat, stirring it gently. Add your favorite BBQ sauce (1/2 cup per can?) in. I used the SRIRACHA ROASTED GARLIC sauce, a good match. Cover the pan and simmer on very low heat for about 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so and making sure it doesn’t burn. It will be thick when done. Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 10 minutes. When you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, put a scoop of the jackfruit on†o the bottom half of a TJ’s ALOHA BUN (or brioche roll). Top with some coleslaw and the top half of the bun. Enjoy! A bit messy to eat but quite tasty! 1 Can served 2 of us easily with the fixings.

Directions as per TJ’s website

(note I liked it without the water, or just a few tablespoons)

  1. Prepare Pulled Jackfruit: Drain jackfruit and pat dry. Partially shred jackfruit chunks into smaller pieces. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add jackfruit and sauté for five minutes. Add BBQ sauce and water to pan and stir to evenly coat jackfruit. Cover pan and simmer on medium-low heat, 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally and pulling jackfruit apart as it becomes tender.
  2. Prepare Tangy Cole Slaw: While jackfruit cooks, in a large bowl, toss cabbage blend with mayonnaise and apple cider vinegar to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. 
  3. Prepare Sandwiches: Place a scoop of pulled jackfruit on the bottom of a bun. Top with diced onions, coleslaw, and bun top. Eat and repeat until satisfied!

Trader Joe’s EGGPLANT GARLIC SPREAD


“A traditional Bulgarian recipe that pairs well with pita or flatbread. Use as a dip or as a spread on sandwiches, toast or crackers”.

Ingredients: Eggplant, red peppers, water, sunflower oil, tomato paste, sugar, sea salt, dried garlic….

This spread, which is made in Bulgaria, is absolutely delicious. I tried this (vegetarian) spread as a dip served with some warm flatbread – a combo made in heaven. I can easily see this used in other ways besides being just a dip or spread. You could serve this on top, or on the side of say grilled chicken or fish. Or pasta. Add a few spoons to your pasta dish (or gnocchi or polenta) along with lots of garlic and olive oil. Inside an omelet? Sure. Now as yummy as it is, personally I would like more garlic. I have a feeling if your (Bulgarian) grandma made this spread it might actually have enough garlic in it to kill vampires. My late Jewish grandma (Romanian by birth) made a delicious roasted eggplant spread that had a ton – and I mean a ton – of garlic in it and it was fantastic. So just to see if more garlic would be a good addition with this spread, I mashed up a few cloves of garlic, mixed it in and let it sit for an hour to develop. OMG, it was now even better, if you love garlic of course. So I suggest doing this and adding a slug of good olive oil too. If you do this, the spread tastes homemade! However even just out of the jar, this spread is delicious, kind of an “Eggplant Caviar”. This spread is something I can easily see putting out for guests who suddenly showed up, along with some crackers, which would take all of 2 minutes of work, and would look impressive and have them asking you “yum, this dip is delicious; did you make it?”. If you put a few cloves of garlic in it, I would tell them with a straight face, yes I did. Its $2.69 for a 12 oz jar. Serve with warm pita or naan, or flatbread or toast or crackers…..

I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s 10-minute FARRO (whole grain)


Farro is an Italian word basically meaning “ancient grain”, referring to ancient wheat varieties (emmer, spelt, or einkorn) which are forerunner grains to modern wheat. Farro is a very healthy food for you to eat, extremely nutritious and an excellent source of protein, fiber and nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins. Its a much healthier alternative to some other refined grains for example white rice. If you’ve never had farro served on the side of a fancy Italian restaurant (it’s gotten a bit trendy) try this. You will probably like it’s very nutty taste. It’s delicious on its own even with just some butter, salt and pepper. You can cook it in water, or in broth which will of course make it even tastier. This is a great and healthy product which we really like to make either as a side dish or even part of the main, say mixed with other veggies, maybe as the base of a protein bowl. A recipe for “Farro with Sausage & Apples” is written on the bag. Whole grains like this normally take about 45 minutes to cook however TJ’s “10 Minute Farro” obviously cooks faster in only about 10-15 minutes. I assume its been partially cooked. Trader Joe’s 10 Minute Farro sells for $1.79 for an 8.8 oz. bag. I buy this stuff all the time. Great for your pantry.

You can mix this with cooked brown rice to come up with your own “Brown Rice Medley” (which TJ’s discontinued)

Trader Joe’s Korean Glass Noodles & Vegetable Stir Fry “JAPCHAE”


Trader Joe’s frozen JAPCHAE ; Korean Sweet Potato Glass Noodles & Vegetables stir fry

(update, march 2021: i haven’t been able to find this for some time. hoping its just a supply chain issue and not disco’d. Update2, may 2021: finally back! i just saw these again!

I had read about this new Trader Joe’s Korean frozen dish on offer. Reports on the internet were that it was good. I had to wait for it to hit our shelves in NYC so I could check it out, as I love Korean JapChae. Finally I saw it in our TJ’s here and got one to try. I was pretty impressed. It is indeed quite good. Even my (Korean) wife gave it her seal of approval with her comment “it tastes like JapChae” – it tastes authentically Korean. Lable does say it’s “MADE IN KOREA”. The noodles in JapChae are a clear vermicelli type noodle made from Korean sweet potato. These are called glass or cellophane noodles as that is what they resemble. Korean Chap jae or (Jap Chae) is a tasty noodle stir fry dish. TJ’s ChapJae is VEGETARIAN / VEGAN. Trade Joe’s sells it in the frozen Asian section, ready to eat. As well as being quite tasty it’s a pretty good deal at $2.99 (for 10 oz package). For the two of us, the container made 2 medium sized portions for a side dish. If you add things, it can become a dinner or main dish. We ate this with our dinner of potsticker dumplings. These two were a great combo together! We enjoyed the dumplings with this side dish of noodles with a bit of Kimchi too.

Carrots and red and green bell peppers round out the dish. Drizzle some more toasted sesame oil on just before serving if you have it. This dish is not spicy. Add something if you want it spicy. One can “beef up” the dish just by adding additional things: protein, more veggies. For example we put fried eggs on top which was a terrific addition. Top each portion with a fried egg, or you could make soft scrambled eggs and mix them into the noodles when they are ready to serve. You could also add in some BAKED TOFU or serve it on the side with this. So you can easily take this package of JAPCHAE and use it as the base for making a bigger fuller meal out of it. Add in to the noodles (or top when serving): cooked ground beef or ground turkey or pork, grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon or what have you. You can add more vegetables, too! Mushrooms, spinach, green beans…. Add stuff to this and you will have a delicious easy dinner for two, for way less than takeout. We liked TJ’s Jap Chae alot and will definitely buy this again.

One side note though: it does have a pretty high SODIUM CONTENT. If you eat this whole container yourself, note that you are getting a lot of Sodium (1120 mg) or almost half of the daily recommended level (2300 mg). Eating 1/2 the container as a serving brings the Sodium down to (560 mg) 24% of the recommended level, clearly much better for you. Always take a look the Sodium levels on any prepared / packaged food as many foods, can skew pretty high especially some Asian dishes. Get into the habit of checking the Nutrition labels when buying prepared foods, especially as it regards salt, something Americans eat generally way too much of.

TJ Mediterranean Style Hummus


Trader Joe’s sells SO many varieties of hummus. They may even have too many…. Don’t even get me started on “chocolate hummus” which I think is a crime against nature. Anyway this one is My TJ hummus. My “Go To” favorite. I think it’s their best one, one reason being that this “Mediterranean Style” hummus includes TAHINI in the ingredients. Incredibly, at least to me, is that some versions of hummus on offer at Trader Joe’s do not have Tahini in the ingredients. I don’t get this as Tahini (sesame paste) is an integral part of a hummus recipe and it is why it tastes good. I can only imagine some people don’t like tahini or its calories? Or an allergy? OK that must be why TJ sells hummus both ways, with or without it? Anyway their “Mediterranean Style” hummus is very tasty. It is a little fancier as on top they have a few pine nuts and spices. This is the way hummus is normally presented. When you serve it put it in a shallow bowl. A squeeze of 1/4 lemon would be good IMO (mix in juice). Run your spoon to make a circular groove all around the hummus and add a pour of your best EVOO. Sprinkle a bit of spice (Ajika for example, or ground cumin or zaatar) all around the perimeter attractively. Voila!

Serve with warm pita or naan or other flatbread.

The Mediterranean Style hummus costs about $4 for a 16 oz tub (it’s 50 cents more then the regular one with no tahini).

BTW, you can easily make hummus (which I occasionally do) Here’s a good recipe

https://www.themediterraneandish.com/how-to-make-hummus/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/our-favorite-hummus-recipes-4164898

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/food/what-people-get-wrong-about-making-hummus/2015/09/04/72c7c844-4dc5-11e5-902f-39e9219e574b_story.html

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