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Trader Joe's Umami and Ginger Paste

I'm a big fan of the condiment section at TJ's, not because everything is ridiculously good but you can really find some hidden gems and get a good bang for your buck. ;D 

I cannot vouch for all of the spices and condiments - like salt, soy sauce, sriracha (no I haven't tried TJ's brand sriracha) I would buy elsewhere. However, because most of the spices have the same $1.99 flat price, you can get decent deals on things like curry powder, turmeric, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon sticks, and ground ginger. 

Ginger and umami paste in a tube debuted at TJ's maybe a few months ago. I haven't been able to review them until now because it has been rather difficult to figure how what to do with umami paste.  In hindsight, it was a completely impulsive buy. For the blog of course. 

Tomato puree, red wine vinegar, anchovy paste, mushroom powder - so a bit of fermentedness, saltiness, and savory goodness to produce that umami taste. What is umami? It's that 5th taste, the savory richness that I need in my food, but not something that I readily identify in my food. Y'all know around here, when I eat a nice snack, I say to myself, "salty, a little sour, yum." But I don't really say "ooo umami. nice."  

More importantly, if I eat umami foods all the time, why do I need umami in paste form? I don't. But since I have a tube of it, I gotta figure what to do with it. Especially since normal umami paste retails anywhere from $10-$20 per tube. $1.99 here is a ridiculous deal.

I tried it in pasta and didn't detect a noticeable difference, probably because that pasta contained both parmesan and mushrooms that are already rich with umami flavors. I never thought to put it in my soup broths, because if I'm going to make real soup, I try to make it properly. Did not think about the umami paste until I tried making my version of mason jar ramen, which in case you didn't know is like the coolest, gentrified, and healthified version of cup noodles.

Sadly, I discovered that I did not actually have any miso paste on hand. Homegirl cannot be bothered to leave the house in these cold temps for one measly ingredient. So I tried a squirt of umami paste, a squirt of ginger paste, and some chicken broth paste. Add hot water. Was not salty enough. Added a spoon of soy sauce. Still tasted like...really bad Americanized soup broth. Added a spoonful of gochujang. And voila! It tasted like a passable soup broth. I wouldn't pay for this broth at a ramen shop; in fact, I would stay away from any ramen shop that tried to serve this. But it's not bad for something thrown together in a pinch. 

Time to clean out my fridge - great way to use up leftover chicken and veg. Top it off with some noodles, leftover chopped cilantro, and sesame. 

Not bad. Decently filling. 

As for the ginger paste, I can dream up a few more uses. It smells legit. I think it's usable in just about any recipe that uses grated or finely minced ginger. I'll probably use it to make Japanese-style miso-ginger salad dressings. **Edit: The ginger paste has made making this dressing that much easier! Substitute it for grated ginger. I used rice wine vinegar instead of lemon and mixed it up in a mason jar. Magic! 

Repurchase verdict? Maybe the ginger paste. Until I figure out more ways to use this umami, I'd probably hold off. Do share if you have any handy tips or ideas of how to use umami paste! 

TL;DR: Trader Joe's Umami Paste. Umami in a tube. Still don't know what to do with it. 6 out of 10. 

TL;DR: Trader Joe's Ginger Paste. Convenient ginger flavor! 7 out of 10. 



  1. Mix it with butter and put it under chicken skin before you roast it! Also add it with the butter to your pan before frying an egg. it's also good with tomato based sauces.


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