Shopping these days can be a very intense experience. You’re in a rush because you don’t want to stay in the store too long, and when there’s a lot of people around you begin to get anxiety. Gone are the days where you can leisurely shop and take your time. Which is why, when you crawl out of that bunker you call a home, you’ll have to make each grocery trip to the store count. I know exactly how it feels to wander aimlessly throughout the store at times, overwhelmed with a long list and several stops on a Sunday. But by far, one of my favorite stores is none other than Trader Joes, which is why today I am sharing with you my Top 5 favorite items to get at Trader Joes to cook Asian food!
Believe it or not, you don’t always have to go to an Asian supermarket to make Asian food. I’ve found that these items at Trader Joes can be much better than the products I’ve found at Asian supermarkets, because it’s fresher, organic, and also fairly priced! Keep reading for my favorite go-to items!
1. Ground Pork
Ground pork is a great option to get at Trader Joe’s because it’s not typically found in other supermarkets such as Safeway or Lucky’s. When shopping for ground pork, I usually opt for 20-30% fat so that the meat retains its moisture when cooking.
- Recipe ideas: Chinese steamed pork meatloaf, mapo tofu, or dumplings, just to name a few!
2. Heirloom Chicken
This is by far my favorite protein at TJ’s and probably my favorite protein in general. Chicken is such a versatile protein to work with – so many different kinds of cuts, ways of cooking, and different flavor profiles can work with chicken.
- Why heirloom chicken? Heirloom chicken is a specific breed of chicken that is grown until it reaches an appropriate age for market. What this means, is that the chickens aren’t purposefully force fed to plump up quicker to go to market. The longer process of growing the chicken naturally results in a juicier and meatier chicken. In comparing prices, Trader Joe’s hands down has the most affordable heirloom chicken – at roughly $10 for a whole chicken! Healthy and organic chicken at an affordable price is a win-win for everyone.
- Recipe Ideas: salted baked ginger chicken wings, soy sauce drumsticks, or steamed chicken with ginger and green onion sauce.
If you read enough of my recipes over time (and I hope you do), you’ll notice I use green onions and cilantro. A lot. Which is not entirely unexpected considering they’re a staple in Chinese cooking. And I’ll tell you, I’ve been to Asian supermarkets, Whole foods, and Safeway, but none of these hold a candle to the freshness of green onions at TJ’s. The green onions at TJ’s are thick, green, and crunchy. Despite some Chinese markets selling green onions for $.50 a bunch vs. $1.29 at TJ’s, I will still pick TJs, because their green onions last TWICE as long and are always fresh. The cilantro and other herbs are also very great quality and lasts really long as well!
- Recipe ideas: green onion and ginger crab, fresh steamed fish topped with green onion and cilantro
I don’t buy my pasta from anywhere else other than TJ’s. They have a wide variety to choose from including spaghetti, capellini, penne, rigatoni, macaroni, and most of these bags are only $0.99 each!
- Recipe ideas: Hong Kong style macaroni soup topped with ham and vegetables with a side of toast and egg. (Stay tuned as I will post this recipe in a later post!)
Vegetables are always fresh at Trader Joe’s. I don’t know about you, but sometimes at Costco I would buy some vegetables and they would go bad in a day or there’d be too much and I wouldn’t be able to finish it sometimes. At Trader Joe’s the vegetables are always fresh, affordable and good quality. I love buying their green beans, broccolini, broccoli, and cauliflower.
- Recipe ideas: Sauteed vegetables with garlic, vegetables soaked in chicken broth, or pickled to keep it even longer.
Honestly, there are probably a ton more that I didn’t include, but these are definitely my 5 go-tos! Next time you’re at TJ’s, you’ll now know what to grab first!
Until next time!