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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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Trader Joe's Reduced Fat Battered Shrimp

It can be ridiculous, what you have to go through sometimes for some good, relatively inexpensive seafood. Take Sandy's and my recent stop by in Baltimore to see the National Aquarium after spending a couple days in DC and before seeing my folks for the night a little outside Philly. Baltimore's Inner Harbor is one teeming tourist-trap central, and the town's known for their crabcakes, so hey, that's a tasty sounding lunch idea that firmly lodged itself into my beautiful wife's noggin. So, after oohing at the puffins and ogling all the sharks, we exited the aquarium in search of lunch. All the fancy-schmancy, $25-a-crabcake, places were open, but, uh, that's just a little steep for us. So we went out in search of other places around the harbor, looking them up on Yelp and whatnot, just to find every seafood joint was closed for renovations. Seriously? it's April, prime tourist season, and you're closed? That's not so bright. Anyways, it became obvious to find some affordable lunch, we'd have to leave the Inner Harbor, but we also wanted to go up and see Camden Yards and the Babe Ruth Museum that's only two blocks away from there, and our car was already parked as close as it was gonna get for something like $25 for the day, so I guess somehow or other we figured it was alright enough of an idea to go scope out those places, growling tummies be darned. Like pretty much every other walk we planned that weekend, it turned out to be a a lot farther than we thought (keep in mind, my wife's 30ish weeks pregnant, so that doesn't help matters) so by the time we were done there, I left Sandy at a place where she could sit and get a cold drink as I ran back towards the Harbor to get our car. In that time, she found a great, local, hole-in-the-wall kinda place (our favorite kind of restaurant) just a few miles away, right off I-95, called LP Steamers where the two of us got a delicious seafood feast for the price of a crabcake and maybe a Sprite at one of the supertouristymucketymuck places. Great find.

Fortunately it's not always that tough, thank goodness. Take these Trader Joe's Reduced Fat Battered Shrimp. On my recent one man hunt-and-gather trip, all I had to do was spot them, think how tasty they looked, figure out if the price was right ($6.99, high potential for two dinners each for the two of us, so yup), then swipe my debit card at the checkout for them. Come home, fire up the oven, slide some on a cookie tray, go annoy the wife for a bit as they bake, then whip them out of the oven. Now that's what I call easy.

And these shrimp deliver, too. I mean, usualy I hear the words "reduced fat" and think "reduced taste," but these shellfishy bites are really pretty darn good. The batter is a little thicker than I expected - it's cornmeal-based, so kinda corn-dog-like - but it's definitely good and helps add a little more to each bite. The shrimp inside is warm, fleshy, a little moist and certainly tailless, so no worries about choking on that. It's also firm and not salty or mushy, like I've had way too many times with other store brands. Altogether, each piece hits home with a little comfort food-esque vibe, and are actually filling enough that I feel like I'm satisfied after "only" a regular serving size. That's a rarity for me.

We're both fans of the shrimp and we'll be getting it again for sure. The second time we had it, as I brought out her dinner plate to her, I think Sandy said something to the general effect of "Yaaaaaaaay it's shrimp time!!!" At the very least, she said "mmm" a whole bunch and that these were "much better than those coconut guys." Yeah, I concur with that. Those were kinda weird while these reduced fat battery bites are good on their own and would go well with whatever kinda sauce you like to drench your seafood in. I don't think I could be much happier with them, except the name leaves me wondering what they're a "reduced fat" version of, as to my recollection I haven't seen just "regular" battered shrimp at TJ's, and I can't help but think those just might be a smidge or two tastier. No matter. Matching 4.5s.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Reduced Fat Battered Shrimp: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

8 comments:

  1. Thanks. I'm going to try these. I've burned out a bit on the battered cod for some reason, possibly too salty, not sure.

    Also, I have specifically disabled my ad blocker to give some click rev. This blog is so important to society that it deserves some revenue.

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    1. Haha...thanks! Click early, click often!

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  2. Good call skipping the inner harbor for crabcakes! LP Steamers is great and their rooftop is the perfect place to pick crabs!

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    1. Next time we're in the area, we're definitely gonna go back!

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  3. Finally got around to trying. Great call! Real meaty shrimp and it's not all breading like you'd get with standard supermarket fried shrimp. Excellent with TJ cocktail sauce, which is superb and inexpensive.

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  4. We adore this product! Weekly I make fabulous Baja style Shrimp tacos out of them. This is a must have in our freezer!!!

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  5. The time you spend writing this blog would be better spent cooking your own meals from scratch. Or do you even know how to cook - rather than reheat?

    And by the way - do you actually work for Trader Joe's? Is this a sham?

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    1. Calm down and have some shrimp, man :)

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