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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Friday, August 28, 2015

Trader Joe's Green Dragon Hot Sauce

The 1972 martial arts classic Return of the Dragon used to be in heavy rotation in my DVD player back in college whenever me and the roomies needed a "brews and Bruce" night. I mean, the climactic fight scene between Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris? Invest nine minutes of your life and watch it here. The cacophony of joint crackage, the random cat, the chest hair grab....not to mention plenty of roundhouse kicks and a couple masters going at it in their prime, even if scripted. Great stuff, I love it.

Admittedly, high level martial arts flicks have little to nothing to do with Trader Joe's Green Dragon Hot Sauce, but I thought of the movie title when I first saw this sauce for sale. "Return of the Dragon." We've seen this particular scaly scary hombre before, not too long ago - namely, on TJ's branded sriracha, which I recommended calling dragon sauce - hey, I think some royalties are due here, Big Joe.

Regardless, I thought that this green glop wouldn't be that unlike a salsa verde or the Hatch Valley Salsa, except in saucier form. That's a mistake, as there's a little bit more going on here, despite some similarities. The first ingredient with any real substance to this dragon drool is pureed jalapenos and the last is habeneros, so there's some seriously spicy bookends. The habeneros don't come thru too strongly, though, which is appreciated, but they're still there, even if just slightly. But it's not just heat and nothing else. There's plenty of roasted sweetness from tomatillos with some added flavor depth from lime juice and garlic to add a bite, and cilantro to add a herby twist. All of these flavors seem present and proportionately balanced for a strong but not overbearing spicy sauce with some character to it. There's also "spinach powder" in there....I guess that's present for greenery insurance. Or maybe they're just trying to sneak us some extra veggies. Who knows.

It's all a pretty smooth consistency too, all things considered - not too watery, and certainly not chunky. The sauce definitely pours more than plops, making it ideal to use in most anyway one can enjoy a hot sauce - I've used over various meats, in sandwiches, on eggs, in tacos and so on. I've yet to find something that didn't mesh well with the flavor profile - even with the spiciness (which I'd rate as moderate) and other flavors present, none seem to completely overpower whatever I'm putting it on. Good sauce.

Both Sandy and I seem to be pouring it over any meal we can the past week or so. My mother-in-law who's been staying with us the past few weeks just kind of looks on in amazement. Eh well. The dragon sauce might not be for everyone, but I think it'll be a staple for us going forward because of its tastiness and versatility. Like that Lee-Norris fight scene, this sauce just might be pretty tough to beat.


Bottom line: Trader Joe's Green Dragon Hot Sauce: 8.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

9 comments:

  1. Too bad my nemesis, cilantro, is too high up the ingredient list for me to try because otherwise, sounds interestingly good.

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  2. They were serving samples of this sauce at my local TJ's with the Burrata, Proscuitto, and Argula flatbread. As fan of all those ingredients, the flatbread was a major disappointment. The hot sauce, however, was incredibly tasty. I was licking it out of that sample cup unabashedly.

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  3. Still worth a try. I'm not a cilantro fan and it's not gonna ruin the party here. But, 'only' an 8.5? :(

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  5. This is how salsa verde was supposed to taste! Its usually just a bland kind of generic sauce and the hot version is just that, hot and overpowering to any food without adding real flavour. This stuff is not just spicy/hot but actually flavourful... like how chipotle pepper actually has a depth compared to other chili peppers, this actually has a facetted, roasted, smoky sweet, a bit garlicky and spicy/hot flavour. It enhances the food. I can't really taste the cilantro or habanjero, but I'm sure they all add to the mix in their own way. Amazing! Its seriously the best sauce I've had in recent memory. What have you been putting it on? I just got it home and have just been tossing it back from the bottle!

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  6. Knocked my socks off! I really enjoy this stuff in homemade street tacos and egg dishes. It has a great punch to it. Spicy indeed but not overpowering in the flavor area so it is okay to heap it on. Agreed, the consistency is not too thin and not to "gloppy." Just right! It's a new staple! (Hope it sticks around!)

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  7. I enjoy this sauce as well as their Sriracha. Maybe you already know this, but Sriracha is not trademarked, and that is why you see so many other brands of Sriracha other than the original. Thus, no royalties.

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