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