When it comes to being a chef’s best friend, it’s hard to beat Trader Joe’s. It’s the non-secret foodie secret. They have great ingredients at a cheap price, but they don’t skimp on quality. It’s a rare thing to find when it comes to food these days.
Wontons are one of those items that are delicious and easy to enjoy, but tedious and hard to make. (Well, at least for those of us that don’t have much dexterity.) One of the more popular wontons offered in the Trader Joe’s frozen section are their Cilantro Chicken Wontons.
Admittedly, cilantro is not what most people think of when they think of Asian cuisine. Can these wontons measure up?
Delectable Delight or Culinary Miss?
Many of Trader Joe’s foods tend to have a very strong, almost unmistakable flavor profile. These wontons are not quite there. If you want to have a party in your mouth that pops flavor that you can seriously feel, this is not exactly it.
Rather, these are fairly flavorful. You don’t taste MSG, nor do you taste heavy doses of salt or spice. They’re light, but satisfying. Each wonton has a pop of chickeny taste with a slight hint of cilantro and onion.
In other words, they are perfect for people who want to use a dipping sauce to talk most of the talk. It’s also a good pick for people who can’t stand heavy-handed use of spices. If you are looking for something that tastes like an egg roll in a wonton, this is not the right dish.
Tastes and Trade-offs
When it comes to the chicken cilantro wontons the positives outweight the negatives.
First, they are remarkably low-calorie, so if you are on a calorie-restricted diet, this is guiltless. Not many dumplings or wontons can say that about themselves.
Second, they taste pretty good. I like their texture and they are easy to digest. It’s hard to imagine these wontons disagreeing with anything. Besides, they’re so small, they make a perfect appetizer platter. Yum!
Inexpensive and Zero Prep Required
Third, they’re easy to prep and they’re pretty affordable. I could see a lot of college kids stocking up on these. Boil them or steam them in the microwave to get good results, which is in the realm of doing for most kids just out on their own.
If you enjoy your wontons golden brown, try the pay fry preparation below.
The most obvious issue, if you could even call it that, is that the bag has enough for two people to eat as a meal. If you were hoping to stock up on a large amount of items that’ll keep you fed, you’ll need a lot more bags.
Light on Seasoning
Second is the flavor. A lot of people avidly seek out the zingiest, umami-est, and overall spiciest dumplings they have on the market. That’s great for many other Trader Joe’s products, but this is not that type of snack. It’s remarkably light on flavor, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
If you really yearn to add a little more zest or substance to your meal, cook the dumplings in chicken broth, add some veggies, and turn it into a classic soup bowl. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Forget the takeout!
It’s really hard to find a frozen food that has a multicultural look, remains light enough for a snack, and can also be served as an appetizer for a small party. Chicken Cilantro Wontons do that perfectly, which is why they’d do great for a cocktail party.
Oh, and I already mentioned this before, but this is perfect college food for the student who has a small cooktop, loves Asian-inspired cuisine, and also wants to keep their waistline trim. The Freshman 15 is not going to get you if you get these on a regular basis.
Make the Sauce!
Yes, you can find a bottled dumpling sauce that will likely suffice. I love taking an out of the box Trader Joe’s product and elevating it to give it more of that authentic feel. Included on the bag is an easy to follow 5 ingredient sauce that mimics the Chinese Takeout restaurant around the corner. Soy sauce, rice vinegar, water, brown sugar and sesame oil, all pantry staples that most have on hand is all it takes to whip up this tasty sauce.
Keep an Extra Bag in the Freezer.
As an avid fan of Asian fare and a person who’s trying to keep their weight under control, I can honestly say I’ve never regretted putting these wontons in my basket. Even if you’re not a fan of wontons or Asian meals, it’s hard to hate on these wontons.
They’re super versatile. When put in a soup, they are a great way to warm your bones. When you steam them and add sauce, you get the perk of having a platter of hors d’oeuvres. And if you just want some steamed wontons as part of a stir fry, they do that pretty well, too.
It’s really hard to find delicious, nutritious, and easy-to-prep meals for under $5 a bag—even in a location like Trader Joe’s. It’s even harder to find food that can work with so many different situations and circumstances.
That’s what makes the Trader Joe’s Cilantro Chicken Wontons a steal. It’s just a smartly crafted, smartly marketed product for people who like good food.