Friday, May 10, 2013
Trader Joe's Snack Attack: Dried Kimchi and Inner Peas
Considering my post on the Kale Chips from Trader Joe's has--by far--brought the most hits to my blog, I figured I should do a few more of these posts. Not that I need to be gorging on snacks all the time, but I do like that TJ's comes out with some new, interesting items every once in a while, and these snacks aren't always that bad for you.
But can these snacks be the complete package, with good flavor and good value on top of the not-terrible nutritional content?
I tried Trader Joe's Dried Kimchi and their "Trader Joe's Contemplates Inner Peas" to find out--and came to the conclusion that one of these snacks satisfies more than the other.
Value: $2.99 for a 0.7 ounce bag
Nutrition: Cabbage is good for you, right? Also kind of salty.
Flavor and Texture: This is where things get interesting. And weird.
Do you like regular kimchi? Seems like the place to start when figuring out if you might enjoy TJ's Dried Kimchi. But I'm not sure that matters with this product. You might want to try it out of curiosity, but then go back and pick up the kimchi from the refrigerated section of Trader Joe's (or your local Asian market).
While I love the flavor of kimchi, the chili spiciness, the saltiness, the sour backbone--not to mention the crunch that you sometimes get from parts of the cabbage--this doesn't translate so well to a dried product. The ingredients here are good: the cabbage and chili, of course, plus garlic, ginger, salt, onion, and radish. Yet somehow these flavors come together in a weird and fairly unpleasant way--with a fishy pungency that's unlike anything I've ever tasted. It's unbalanced, too; the spicy and sour flavors really don't come together well in this form.
The texture also leaves something to be desired. While there are a few pieces that retain some crunch, I also found a lot of bits that were somewhat chewy.
Now, the one saving grace for the Dried Kimchi might be that it is not just a snack, but also a condiment. I haven't tried it in that form, but I suppose it could work better as a flavor enhancer. Also, while $2.99 for 0.7 ounces might not seem like a good deal, if this is to be eaten as a condiment, it'll go a long way, so it's fair enough in that regard.
That said, I'm pretty sure I won't be picking this up again for any reason.
Trader Joe's Contemplates . . . Inner Peas
Value: $1.49 for a 3.3 ounce bag
Nutrition: Described on the front of the bag as a "multigrain snack," they aren't necessarily bad for you--each package contains three servings, each 150 calories, 6g of fat (1g saturated), but cornmeal is the first ingredient, not peas, so you're not exactly getting the goodness of green peas from this bag.
Flavor and Texture: As I said, the first ingredient is cornmeal. The others? Sunflower oil, air-dried green garden peas, rice flour, sea salt, and water. I don't know that there's one predominant flavor; I readily taste the cornmeal and rice flour, but the Inner Peas are slightly oily and I do like the noticeable touch of salt. Oh, and there is a hint of pea flavor that does shine through. It feels like a little bonus surrounded by all those other, typical snacky qualities.
I do find myself enjoying these, maybe more than I should, because ultimately they're not that exciting flavor-wise; I think part of the fun of eating these might be in their texture. The Inner Peas are crunchy, but I would call it more of a crunchy fluff. I think that's a byproduct of the rice flour, and it works.
These certainly aren't the most exciting snack, but they're also not that bad for you, so I suppose they could be a reasonably-priced alternative to other snacks. I'd be interested in trying them as a vessel for some hummus; that might be where they could really shine thanks to the texture.
And what does Mr. P think of these two snacks?
"Seriously? Uh, no thanks."