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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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Trader Joe-San's Shrimp Fried Rice

Okay, true story time: A little over five years ago, while still very much a bachelor, I lived in a house with a bunch of other guys, one of whom we found on Craigslist. Now, I won't say anything bad about him, because overall he and his girlfriend were pretty cool except...one day I got a call from him at work. He had never called me before. "Ummm, yeah, we, uh...we burned down the house," he said. Wha!?!? Apparently they neglected the chicken they were frying on the stove top in favor of watching Judge Judy and some grease caught fire and POOF. The entire house didn't quite burn down, and most of our stuff was okay, but my favorite recliner had to be pitched due to smoke damage, so I was NOT happy. Ever since then I have made two pledges: Never find people to live with on Craigslist, and always watch whatever I'm cooking very carefully, especially if it's something spattery.

I mention all that because combine that story, along with new parent jitters as I attempted to make my wife and I bacon and eggs after being home from the hospital for just a few days, and man, that was so incredibly stressful. I kept having to turn off the burner as she asked me to get this and do that so it took me an hour to make breakfast. A freakin' hour. I told myself whatever I made next on the stove top had to be a lot easier.

Thankfully, Trader Joe-San's Shrimp Fried Rice is pretty easy. If you have about a large fry pan or wok, 5 minutes, and two tablespoons of olive oil, you got yourself a pretty good dinner. Note the take-out carton icon on the package - that's a pretty accurate assessment, and for a fraction of the cost. Our favorite local Chinese place sells a quart of shrimp fried rice for about $7, so once we pay tax and tip the driver and his little assistant we call Short Round (see this for that story), it's pretty much $10. This? $2.99. That's it. More importantly, tastewise, it's about right on par with typical takeout fare. All the rice and veggies taste right, and it has about the right amount of shrimp, which also tastes right, like most TJ shrimp offerings. I have only the smallest of complaints, and really, it's more like a quibble: I personally think it's kinda weird that's there frozen scramble eggs in it. Not that they taste bad, and I certainly include eggs while making my own fried rice, but frozen eggs kinda skeeve me out, and I'd rather have the option of including my own. That may be just me.

Sandy's a little less high on it than I am. I think it's because I have her spoiled. Not to brag, but for a pasty, gingery Pennsylvania Dutch boy, I make some darn good fried rice. She likes all the little spices I mix in, and I also make sure to dice the onions smaller just the way she likes them so she can't really see them, either. Admittedly, since I also favor my own, next time we pick this up (and there will be a next time) I'll dress it up a bit as it's kinda, well, not bland but more like just plain and unspicy like what you'd expect from a restaurant. As is, Sandy will give it a three, but since I think it deserves a better fate than that, I'll overcompensate a bit and go with a four 'n a half.

Bottom line: Trader Joe-San's Shrimp Fried Rice: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

7 comments:

  1. Reading ingredient panel, I am trying to figure out WHY cooked soy sauce was the most used item - huh? Oh, wait - after third reading, I included "flavored rice" in the opening item of soy sauce and it finally made sense!!!!

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  2. I haven't gotten the shrimp fried rice, but I do get the vegetable fried rice. It's great to measure out a cup and nuke it for a quick meal when it's just me. But you are right, it is kind of bland so when I make the whole bag on the stove I do add some seasoning.

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  3. Looks good, going to have to try it! As a side note, I never fry bacon anymore. I bake it. Toss bacon on a cookie sheet lined with foil, pop it in the oven, start oven at 400 and come back 15-20 minutes later and it is perfect. It always takes me at least that long to fry it plus you have the mess and the smell (while delicious) tends to linger forever. Try it!

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  4. I've never had the shrimp fried rice but the chicken fried rice is a staple in my freezer! I'll definitely pick up the shrimp one next time I'm there (I'm sure it's probably the exact same but with shrimp). The egg thing weirds me out a little too, and I think next time I'll try putting in my own egg as well (you're basically a genius).

    P.S. I think I like this blog EVEN MORE after learning that you're gineger-y. Fellow ginger-y bloggers unite :)

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  5. I'm a ovo-vegetarian and I've used the vegetable fried rice and added my own egg and a little of the soy-aki. My only complaint is that the vegetables don't get entirely cooked, especially the onions. I think they should have been browned before being added to the mix. But it's still an enjoyable quick meal.

    I've been a big Trader Joe's advocate for a while but today I purchased a few items I'd never tried before in the blog's honor.

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  6. I have been buying the shrimp fried rice for a while and have perfected my recipe. I start by heating a little vegetable oil and sesame oil in the frying pan. Once the rice starts cooking, I add lots of soy sauce. I then cook a fried/scrambled egg on the side, which I add in towards the end of cooking the rice. I also like to to make my rice a little crispy on the bottom. Once it's done, I top it off with a little saracha. It's great served with the cilantro chicken wontons!

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    1. thanks kristen. I'm totally gonna try it this way

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