The pros: Trader Joe's Thai Red Curry Sauce makes for a quick dinner. It has good flavor for a jarred sauce.
The cons: This still won't measure up to going to your favorite Thai restaurant and if you are a spice junkie, then you'll want to keep the hot sauce close.
The verdict: If you've had curry, you know that they all can be so very different. If you've eaten from the Indian selection from the Trader Joe's aisles, then you know they are different from say the Yellow Jackfruit Curry or the Panang Curry. Curries, are complex spice dishes from the Indian subcontinent that usually have a bit of heat involved. Now, Thai curries are usually based on certain ingredients like chiles, onions, shallots, garlic, and shrimp paste. Because this is a red curry uses red chiles (yes, green curry involves green chiles). Furthermore Thai curries that contain coconut milk are usually from central and southern Thailand.
So, a quick run through the ingredients reveals two items. There is no shrimp paste in this, so don't expect it to live up to what you would get in a restaurant. It just does not have that same complexity. Likewise, Trader Joe's did the same thing with their Miso Ginger Soup. It also contains dehydrated coconut milk, so this will be closer to the taste of a central/southern Thai cuisine. Notice I said closer. Then again, when ever anything is jarred you'll probably need to check your expectations.
Speaking of expectations, Thai cuisine is also known for having quite a bit of kick. My sister is known for going to Thai restaurants are reminding them they don't need to reduce the spice in the dish because she isn't Thai. On the other hand, I don't like much past a medium heat. Well, rest assured that this is mild at best. Even for me I was debating reaching for the sriracha. If you take a taste of this out of the jar, it's a bit unimpressive as a flavor. However, I had mine with shrimp, stir fry vegetables, and rice and the true flavors of this sauce came right through.
Yes, you'll get the flavor of red chiles, but you don't get much in the way of heat. Ginger and coconut milk seemed to dominate the flavor profile here. Interestingly enough the flavors seem to change a bit depending on how you pair sauce. It was more ginger with the shrimp but was far more complex with the jasmine rice. With the jasmine rice I was getting the other flavors in this jar. As a quick sauce with dinner, this was tasty. And yes, even with veggies and a good amount of rice, there are actually 4-5 servings in this is small jar.
For $2.99 this is worth trying, especially if you don't keep that many ingredients in the house to make a curry from scratch. Most jarred sauces will never be able to capture the true complexity of a freshly made curry. But as an inexpensive jarred sauce, it was pretty good.
Here is the visual run down of what you get if you buy this product:
The bottle of Trader Joe's Thai Red Curry Sauce:
The nutritional information and the ingredients:
How Trader Joe's description and how to prepare:
After being cooked with some of Trader Joe's Stir Fry Vegetables and Jasmine rice you get:
Would I buy this again? Yes, I would buy Trader Joe's Thai Red Curry Sauce again. It might need a bit of adjustment in the form of hot sauce, but otherwise as a jarred sauce it was pretty good.
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Did you try it? Let me know what you think in the comments section!