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, May 28, 2014

Trader Joe's Scallion Pancakes (Pa jeon)

I hate the end of a long weekend. Really. Three days of freedom, fun, and sun, and then back to the daily grind on Tuesday. It's jarring. My soul really wanted to stay in summer mode and take another three months off. 

I mean, I had a great weekend—and regardless of your politics, you have to have crazy respect for the people who laid down their lives and gave the ultimate sacrifice, many of whom died in a trench or jungle far from home. Those wars seem so far removed from our typical Memorial Day activities: picnics, swimming pools, and baseball games. Yesterday, Tuesday, wound up being my day for reflection. On Monday, I was too busy having fun.

Plus, yesterday I was still in a pollen haze. I have weird allergies to pollen, mold, and dust that not only affect my sinuses, make me dizzy, and give me headaches, but the toxins that my body produces affect my entire system, including my thought processes and, to a lesser degree, my emotions. Sounds weird, but it's true. And instead of locking myself indoors for weeks on end and going nuts from cabin fever, I simply bite the bullet and go outside, taking whatever preventative measures I can, but I usually wind up paying for it later. And honestly, sometimes food is the best remedy. The more I eat and drink, the better I tend to feel.

So in between writing assignments yesterday, I took a nice long break at lunchtime and looked for some comfort food in our cupboards. Finding none of my traditional stand-by's, I decided to break out this pa jeon—Korean "pancakes" made with scallions. And boy, did they do the trick. They're not unlike the Vegetable Bird's Nests we reviewed a while back—these are just larger, and they have more scallions and less of every other vegetable. We've seen TJ's brilliantly employ the use of scallions with another Asian food in recent memory, too.

I heated the pa jeon on the stove top with a little Coconut Oil Spray. They browned up nicely in a few minutes, just as the directions indicated. They were perfect just by themselves. I didn't feel the need to add rice, soy sauce, or sriracha, although some of that sweet Bird's Nest sauce might have been nice. They were a tad oily, but that's kind of what I was in the mood for yesterday. Plus, I was able to put the remaining two pancakes back in the resealable package for Sonia to try later. She loved them, too, but she wishes there had been some kind of sesame sauce or something to sex them up a bit. We've always been fans of Korean barbecue, and we're both glad we're able to expand our horizons to other authentic-ish Korean foods. This pa jeon is a winner. Four and a half stars from me. Four from Sonia.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

6 comments:

  1. Yea, these things are good. I've also made them in the oven, even though there aren't directions for that.

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  2. Hmm, sounds interesting! I'm Korean, and I have not tried this yet, but I'm sure I will eventually. You definitely need a good dipping sauce, though!

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    1. Let us know what you think once you try them!

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  3. I have recently adapted my diet to be primarily vegetarian, so finding healthy, quick, and diverse convenience food options for those "I don't have time to cook" moments has been tough lately. I'm still learning what's out there in that regard. I saw these at TJ's a couple nights ago and was excited. I love all sorts of Asian foods including Japanese Okonomiyaki (which are cabbage filled savory pancakes) and to my delight these were not laden with peppers like many ethnic convenience foods are. This got my hopes up, as I can't eat very spicy foods.

    I have to admit though, I wouldn't buy these again. They're kind of a grease bomb, and don't sit well with me in that regard. The flavor was fine but not delicious. I was excited about the oyster mushrooms but don't really taste much aside from scallions and oil, mostly oil. I didn't use much in the pan, but noticed as I was cooking that I probably could have used none, as a lot of oil bubbled out of these while cooking. In flavor and texture they kind of remind me of fried Gyoza.

    I will say these have inspired my curiosity to try making some from scratch soon though. Things like this freeze pretty well if you wanna go the "make your own convenience foods" route sometimes. So at least I was exposed to something new by finding these. :)

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  4. We eat this with the Bool Kogi and some steamed sugar snap peas every week. Hands down our favorite meal, we can never wait for Wednesday.

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