Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Trader Joe's Mahi Mahi

It's taken me a while to get around to the idea of enjoying fish as a food source. I've always liked shrimp and crab legs and other crustaceany goods but fish, like an actual chunk of fish? Not so much. Growing up, it was easy to tell when all of us kids (I have two brothers and one sister) yanked my mom's chain just a little too much. That meant it was haddock for dinner, drenched in lemon juice and butter, and coated with breadcrumbs before being oven baked. Maybe that sounds good to you, but to us, I would rather eat yard clippings. Our only other exposure to fish in my youth was the chunky tuna from a can, from which my mom made tuna fish casserole (and later, began trying to sneak in homemade mac 'n cheese. That should be illegal). To my mom, who's probably reading this, you made so many other great meals growing up that I'm not going to hold it against you. I'm just providing some context for my readers. I meant it when I said you're the bestest cook in the whole world, and for more reasons than for you microwaving me a bowl of Smurf pasta when I was four.

Anyways, deepfry anything and it tastes better, right? That's what got me sorta hooked* on fish. During Lent, Sandy and I make a point of hitting up as many fish frys as possible at the local Catholic churches (best. fish. ever). There's lots of other great places to go in Pittsburgh for a good fish sandwich**, as it seems like an unofficially second official sandwich of the city behind Primanti Bros (don't knock 'em unless you tried 'em).

But, of course, that's not the only way to enjoy the meat that swims. In anticipation of our upcoming southern California vacation, and also because we're intent on using our new favorite cookbook for at least four or five dinners a week, we decided to make ourselves some fish tacos a few nights ago, and so needed to procure ourselves a hunk of tasty gilled goodness. With that, we perused the frozen section at Trader Joe's and ended up scoring us a big ol' piece of Mahi Mahi. Was it victorious?

I'd say so. The fish quickly defrosts and I was easily able to slice it up into smaller bits and pieces to get them coated with chili powder and other spices (see, I like a lot of things coated with chili, not just everything. Can we agree to disagree?) and quickly cook on the stove top in just a little bit of oil. With some tortillas, fresh greens from our garden, and some lime-infused yogurt/other stuff sauce, both Sandy and I were nomming in agreement: this was a really good incarnation of some rather tasty fish. The Mahi Mahi had big, light, fishy flakes and kept just moist enough throughout the whole process from package to belly. And tastewise, honestly, it wasn't overly fishy at all. Aside from texture, I almost would have guessed it was chicken. Despite being frozen, it struck me as being fairly fresh, certainly not right off the boat, but fresh enough for a grocery store purchase.

Definitely good. Sandy and I agree that we're going to have to get it again and try out some different recipes with it. The package claims you can grill it right from its frozen state and it'll end up just fine, so I want to see if I can vouch for that or not. And for $6.99 a pound, it's not an exorbitant expenditure, either.

We're both giving it a four for its taste and overall goodness. This is definitely the best fish I've ever bought at a grocery store. Not that I have a lot of other similar purchases to compare it against, but I've had fresh fish bought at the seafood counter at other stores and this seems to be very close in overall quality, which for something frozen says something. We'd recommend picking it up, no doubt.

Bottom line: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

* As opposed to definitely hooked, which was my right index finger when I went fishing when I was five. Maybe that's another reason that it took me a while to warm up to fish.
** i.e., not a Filet-O-Fish. Barffffff.

1 comment:

  1. Love your blog! One request - could you please include a snapshot of the nutritional value of each of the items you review? Though a good review for taste is the top deciding factor when it comes to trying something, the very next thing me and many others (especially my blog readers!) need to consider is the nutrition! What makes so much stuff at TJ's a great deal is that they manage to make many of their products taste good without excessive amounts of fat or sugar. Which is ridiculously rare in too many stores.