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. I know 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). Now having said that – Trader Joe’s does have a decent “ethnic” fried rice. TJ’s JAPANESE FRIED RICE is actually quity good (another disclaimer: My wife is Japanese/Korean). I’ve eaten tons of both Kimchi fried rice and Japanese fried rice. I know what these should taste like. I can cook decent versions of both.

So, sorry Trader Joe’s in my opinion your KIMCHI FRIED RICE is a miss! If you try it, try the JAPANESE FRIED RICE next time and see which you prefer.

Pretty much same as your other 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 HanAhReum 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, just no comparison! Anyone who’s been to a Korean restaurant will know the real taste. 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)

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RECIPE FOR CRYSTALIZED GINGER


Dear Trader Joe’s

We are fed up waiting for you to get back the “Uncrystallized Candied Ginger” in stock.

So here’s a recipe* to make your own, people!  OK. It may not be quite as good as the TJ’s stuff, but it will be tasty and give you your needed ginger candy fix!

RECIPE FOR CRYSTALIZED GINGER

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh ginger root
  • non-stick spray
  • 5 cups water
  • Approximately 1 pound granulated sugar

Directions

  • Spray a cooling rack with nonstick spray and set it in a half sheet pan lined with parchment.
  • Peel the ginger root and slice into 1/8-inch thick slices using a mandoline.
  • Place into a 4-quart saucepan with the water and set over medium-high heat. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until the ginger is tender.

Transfer the ginger to a colander to drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Weigh the ginger and measure out an equal amount of sugar. Return the ginger and 1/4 cup water to the pan and add the sugar. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar syrup looks dry, has almost evaporated and begins to recrystallize, approximately 20 minutes. Transfer the ginger immediately to the cooling rack and spread to separate the individual pieces. Once completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Save the sugar that drops beneath the cooling rack and use to top ginger snaps, sprinkled over ice cream or to sweeten coffee.

PS The fresher the ginger (and younger) the better!

recipe: *courtesy of Alton Brown; Food Network

TJ’s FRENCH GREEN BEANS (Haricots Verts)


RAVE

These can easily be on any Trader Joe’s Top 10 List. Easily best “first try” of a TJ product in a while. I was quite impressed. These are in the Frozen section, and are extremely good quality French Haricots Verts “(translation: green beans”). They say clearly “IMPORTED FROM FRANCE”. 

“Haricot Verts” are better than the standard green beans you probably know and buy. Haricots Verts are the skinnier French variety, more tender green beans than we have in U.S…the kind of green beans you see on your plate in a very nice restaurant next to that $30 entree you ordered.

When I see fresh HARICOTS VERTS, imported from France, at a top produce green grocer like Fairway for example, they are always expensively priced, something like $6-8 per lb?… vs. $2/lb for “normal green beans” so about 4x what good old regular fresh green beans cost? I usually think ‘who can afford to buy these things? Those with money to burn.’ Well thanks to Trader Joe’s all of us can afford to buy these wonderful vegetables. TJ’s sells a package of HARICOT VERTS in a 24 oz bag. (1.5 lbs) for $1.99! Jeez do the math people, thats about 1.50 /lb? Thats about the same price (or LESS!) than I might buy some regular fresh green beans at the market. (a price check followup in April 2012 show the same price!) 

These are the the wonderful thin, haricots verts, all prepped ready to use, which have been flash frozen. Dark, nice green color. I‘m pretty sure they’ve been blanched for a few seconds prior to being flash frozen. Certainly easy to use: they are all prepped! (ie, tip and tailed) This is a big time saver as prepping beans is the one thing I don’t like about when I buy fresh green beans. they do take a bit of work to prepare (tip and tail). These are trimmed and cut into bite size lengths, ready to use.

To cook, either throw them in boiling water, or do as I usually do, toss the beans into a hot sauté pan with some butter and oil. Cook for perhaps 1-2 mins. Don’t overcook these, you will ruin them. Throw in minced garlic and you have a nice French side dish of haricots verts, ready in minutes. Salads? Yes! I threw them into a salad after boiling them for about 45 seconds, dumping them in a colander and running cold water to cool them, and they were really good tossed with some TJ’s Virgin Olive Oil and White Balsamic vinegar! Delicious. Toss in some diced hard boiled eggs, and parsley, and you have a nice “salade composé”. I also just add them to any dish I’m making that would be good at the last five minutes, generally breaking them in half first as I add them (stews, soups, etc).

haricots verts cocoCategory:Green beans

haricots verts cocoCategory:Green beans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To sell at this price, I can only imagine these are one of those items TJ’s makes a huge deal with the vendor for. TJ’s purchases in such huge quantity, directly from the vendor, then as they say, pays in cash. Thats how TJ’s makes deals so they can sell products at such bargains (case in point is Olive Oil, right? They buy HUGE massive quantities from vendors all over the world)

Anyway TJ’s FRENCH GREEN BEANS (Haricots Verts) are my new favorite vegetable, and are now on my “always these have on hand” Trader Joe’s List. Pretty sure there will always be a package in my freezer from now on. Right next to TJ’s frozen peas and edamame. These are very versatile things to have on hand at all times. Definitely always have a bag in the freezer of these things. Try them, you won’t be sorry.

RECIPEHaricots Verts With Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

(If you make this remember the recipe assumes using fresh haricots verts so adjust the cooking time down)

 

Have you tried this product?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!