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Trader Joe’s Sriracha Lattice Cut Kettle Cooked Potato Chips

Trader Joe's Sriracha Potato Chips

Red bag, a dragon… that means these are hot, right?

Just a quick post today to talk about Trader Joe’s Sriracha Potato Chips. After really bringing down the hammer about Trader Joe’s underwhelming Ghost Pepper Potato Chips, I was surprised to see that they immediately doubled down and released another spicy potato chip.

Ranking: 3 stars 

3 star ranking

What it is: Mildly spicy, tangy potato chips.
Price: $2.29 for an 8 oz. bag
Worth it: Yes, these are great to snack on.

Obviously that raised too many questions to avoid picking it up. Would this chip actually be spicy? Even if it wasn’t, would it still be spicier than the Ghost Pepper chip? Would it capture Trader Joe’s uniquely tangy take on Srircha sauce?

The answer to all these questions is a firm yes. While I can think of a dozen brands off the top of my head that are much spicier than these, they are at least spicy enough to actually make it into the “Spicy” category – even if it’s only under the heading for “Mild”.

These chips actually manage to be a little spicier than their disappointingly mild Ghost Pepper brethren, and they do so delightfully – replicating the full, zippy flavor profile of Trader Joe’s Sriracha Hot Sauce. While that hot sauce is far milder than the more widely known Hoy Fong Rooster Sauce, it makes up for it by actually being flavorful – a tasty, vinegary-blend of all sorts of spices. That same flavor is replicated in miniature on these chips, making them a pleasure to munch on. That’s much better than the dull exercise that eating the Ghost Pepper chips ended up being.

In fact, that vinegary, spicy side of the sriracha sauce makes these chips taste more like a hybrid between Salt & Vinegar chips and Jalapeno chips than a simple spicy chip – something I’ve never had before.

The better flavor of these chips also helped me to appreciate the great waffle-cut texture of these kettle-baked chips. Thick, crispy and big, these chips stay crunchy and hold up in dips remarkably well – certainly far better than your run-of-the-mill Lays would.

That, plus the fact that they aren’t saddled with trying to fill impossibly large shoes (as was the case with the ghost pepper chips) made them pretty damn enjoyable.

Looking at these Sriracha chips alongside the Ghost Pepper chips actually made me wonder if this isn’t all some marketing scheme gone wrong. Is it possible that the “Ghost Pepper” chips were simply supposed to be the “Plain” variety of potato chip – laying the ground work for more interesting flavors, like this Srircha variety. Did the marketers find themselves struggling with a mental block, unable to conjure up a tasty sounding way to pitch bland, barely spicy chips? Did they panic? Was the product rushed out, some executive making the decision to stick “Ghost Pepper” on the label, hoping all would be forgiven when the more flavorful varieties were rolled out?

Extremely likely – in this blogger’s opinion. Watch out, you shadowy figures of the Trader Joe’s Marketing Department…I’m on to you.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend Them: Yes, they’re good if you’re looking for something not too spicy.

Would I Buy Them Again: Yes – these are some of my favorite chips I’ve had at TJ’s.

Final Synopsis: Crispy potato chips that faithfully capture the tang of Trader Joe’s Sriracha sauce.

Trader Joe's Sriracha Potato Chips - Nutrion Facts

Trader Joe’s Sriracha Potato Chips – Nutrion Facts

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Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce

Trader Joe's Green Dragon Hot Sauce

Lame new dragon on the spicy new hot sauce!

Ever since they introduced their own brand of (rather delicious) sriracha sauce last year, Trader Joe’s has been actively working it into as many different products as possible.  We’ve seen spicy sriracha ranch, sriracha BBQ sauce and, not to be overlooked, sweet sriracha glazed bacon jerky. These have been heady months.

What better time, then, to introduce a brand new form of hot sauce to the shelves – Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce – a bolder, hotter variation of their tasty sriracha.

Ranking: 4 stars 4 star rating

What it is: A spicy, jalapeno-based hot sauce
Price: $2.99 for an 18 oz. bottle
Worth it: Yes, spicy and bold!

I should note, just in passing, that this is a pattern that exactly follows what Trader Joe did with their amazing cookie butter. First, filling the shelves with as many cookie butter infused products as they could spin out (seriously, there’s a ton), then introducing a brand new member of the cookie butter family with their “Oreo” based cookie butter.

Although packaged in nearly identical bottles, and emblazoned with a similar dragon logo, there isn’t a lot of family resemblance between these two hot sauces. What’s different? For one, the green dragon looks a lot wussier than the rad red dragon – but more importantly the Green Dragon Hot Sauce dispenses with the flavorful, sweet tang of the red sriracha sauce in favor of a bolder, more herbaceous, and overall spicier taste.

The green color in the Green Dragon comes from replacing the ground chili peppers in the original sriracha sauce with a jalapeno and tomatillo pepper puree. You’ll find the same vinegar and garlic base in both, giving them that slightly acidic zing – however the new Green Dragon sauce also adds a strong dose of cilantro to the mix. This results in a very strong, earthy flavor that lingers long on the tongue.

The difference between these two sauces is almost like the difference between those famous, commonly related seasonings salt and pepper. The red sriracha sauce is more like salt – zippy, very flavorful and, for all intents and purposes, the more popular choice for putting on everything. On the other hand, the green pepper sauce is better for adding a more complex, heavier and spicier dimension to your food – and because  there’s so much cilantro on board, a few dashes is probably all you need of it.

In fact, cilantro has such a strong presence in this hot sauce, that I’ve found that it makes it particularly suitable for spicing up Mexican dishes – tasty with eggs (ranchero-style or otherwise), tacos, burritos… the whole enchilada. Combined with the distinctive taste of jalapeno and tomatillo peppers, this sauce feels as Mexican as it does Thai.

Trying them both back to back, I can’t help but prefer the red sriracha sauce. It’s still my go to hot sauce from Trader Joe’s – improving on Hoy Fong Foods famous rooster sauce by sticking closer to the authentic Thai recipe. However, while it may not get as much use as the red sauce, the green dragon sauce is still a welcome tool to have on the spice rack.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: I would – there aren’t a lot of sauces out there like this right now.

Would I Buy It Again: This bottle should last me a while, but I might pick up another one in a year next year.

Final Synopsis: A bold, spicy hot sauce with plenty of jalapeno and cilantro.

Trader Joe's Green Dragon Hot Sauce - Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce – Nutrition Facts


Trader Joe’s Sriracha Sauce

 

Trader Joe's Sriracha Sauce

An upstart Dragon arises in the West to challenge the Eastern Cock.

Well I certainly wasn’t expecting this. Trader Joe’s has always blazed its own, idiosyncratic course when it comes to it’s food offerings. Rarely do they stoop to blatantly biting on someone else’s style, as they do here with Trader Joe’s Sriracha Sauce. Even more surprising, while it may share the name, this very tasty hot sauce is a different beast entirely.

You know sriracha, you love sriracha, you probably have some in your fridge right now. That is, unless you’re an avowed chili wuss like myself. As a rule, I steer clear of the hot stuff, and that means that, until today, I’ve gently skirted my way around Trader Joe’s Sriracha Sauce whenever I crossed paths with it in the store. Finally, like a kitten being introduced to a new squeaky toy, my curiosity has overcome my fear and I’ve made the plunge. The results have been unexpected.

My basis for avoiding sriracha hot sauce for 99.9% of my life has been based on a few, memorable encounters with the sriracha hot sauce, Huy Fong Food’s Tuong Ot Sriracha, aka the rooster sauce, aka the huge, bright red bottle of thick fiery paste.

I may have missed out on a wide variety of BBQ sauces in my youth, but there was no missing this screaming red blast of hot lava, rising like a flaming obelisk over the tables of South East Asian restaurants from NY to LA. Tuong Ot Sriracha! That thick red paste of concentrated burning hot jalapenos. That thick ooze the consistency of axle grease. That famous recipe made with no water-added. (A point of pride at Huy Fong Food. Check it out yourself: no water, just a splash of vinegar five ingredients down the list). Such a mush of pure heat that is impossible to apply in moderation to your food – leading to concentrated pockets of burning pain or to a plate plastered in a thick layer.

Sure, I tried some Sriracha, curious young man that I was. I tried it and it burnt me – hard. I had no more reason to return to the Devil’s teat. No reason, that is, until now.

Not all sriracha sauce, it turns out, is like Tuong Ot Sriracha. In fact, most isn’t. Unlike the Huy Fong Foods version (a Vietnamese-Chinese product) sriracha is originally a Thai invention, hailing from the town of Si Racha, naturally. Authentic Thai sriracha sauce is a much runnier, tangier sauce, more akin to what we’d consider a “normal” hot sauce to be in the west. It’s this Thai style sriracha that TJ’s is basing it’s version off of.

Trader Joe’s Sriracha Sauce is looser than the rooster sauce, and bring actually flavor to the sauce as well. Much tangier, a little tiny bit sweet and a touch bitter – it’s a complex, rich taste that enlivens soups, noodles, entrees, pizza, basically anything and everything, all without the threat of igniting all the mouth’s surfaces.

Is it still hot? Unequivocally, yes. But it’s noticeably a notch down from Tuong Ot Sriracha. Think Cholula compared to Tabasco. I image this might upset some of the hard-line hot sauce die hards out there, those who seek pain before pleasure in the sauces, but please try it before you judge it. You might just find the flavor more than makes up for the slightly cooler heat.

For the rest of us, or even those who fear the flame like myself, this might just make you look at sriracha sauce in a whole new light.

 

The Breakdown:

Would I Recommend It: Yes – this sauce is a sriracha revelation.

Would I Buy It Again: …..………maybe. But that’s saying a lot for me!

Final Synopsis: A srircha sauce that straddles the line between the super hot Huy Fong Foods version, and the authentic Thai version.