January 29, 2010

Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo

This week, I gave Trader Joe's brand of fake meats a chance to redeem itself with their Soy Chorizo. I had planned to do another head-to-head competition with some chorizo a friend of mine made when we were making sausages in school last week, but it wasn't going to be a fair fight. The homemade chorizo was in a natural casing, and I was going to cook it and slice it up. The soy chorizo came in a sausage-looking form, but the casing had to be removed before cooking, since it was just a plastic tube. I took a picture of what the fake meat looked like once I squeezed it all out of the tube, but honestly, you don't want to know what it looked like. It was not a flattering picture. It had no structure, and would have had to be used in a ground-meat form, which I deemed too different from the sausage form of the real-meat version, so I saved the soy chorizo for this afternoon.

I didn't get things in order in time to eat it for breakfast, so we had our breakfast burritos for lunch. I think it still works. I was a little worried about the spiciness factor. Chorizo is supposed to be spicy, but the super-red color and the fact that my nostrils were tingling warned me that this might be a little too spicy. I did pop a little bit into my mouth to test it out, and at first it wasn't too bad, but the heat built up over time. I knew I was going to have to temper it with other ingredients, hence the breakfast burrito. I used some frozen hash browns I had in my freezer, I chopped up an onion, mixed in the fake chorizo, threw in a few eggs and a handful of cheese, then stirred it all together until the egg was cooked and the cheese was all melty. Then I heated up a couple tortillas, spooned in the mega-breakfast mixture, topped it with some sour cream, folded up the tortilla, and dug in.

Turns out, adding all that other stuff (likely mostly due to the sour cream) managed to mellow out the spice enough for me to be able to eat it. Now, this is only the second time I've eaten chorizo, so I can't really speak to the authenticity of the flavor, but it was pretty tasty. The texture was your pretty standard soy-crumble texture, which is not unpleasant, but also isn't super meaty. I think the breakfast burrito is a pretty good application of this product. So there you go, Trader Joe's - I gave you a second chance, and it paid off. I'd eat this again.

The experience:
Texture - chewy, but in an odd yet not unpleasant way
Flavor - pretty tasty - no weird fake-meat over- or undertones

Final grade for this attempt: B+

49 comments:

  1. " It had no structure, and would have had to be used in a ground-meat form, which I deemed too different from the sausage form of the real-meat version ..."

    Your statement shows what you know about different types of chorizo. The "sausage form" you mention is typical of Portuguese and Spanish chorizo. They are used sliced and cooked with other elements in dishes like paella. But Mexican-style chorizo -- which is what Trader Joe's is supposed to be -- is formless and crumbly.

    Chorizo and eggs go very well together, and are a common breakfast dish in Mexican restaurants in Phoenix.

    The soy-based sausages I've tried don't have the right, "meaty," texture. TJ's soy chorizo works as a soy/vegetarian version of Mexican chorizo, because it is crumbly and formless.

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  2. "It had no structure, and would have had to be used in a ground-meat form, which I deemed too different from the sausage form of the real-meat version, so I saved the soy chorizo for this afternoon."

    this statement definately shoows that this was your first experience with chorizo. i dont know what kind of sausage you ate but there is no way that authentic mexican chorizo was in a solid form that could be sliced. all chorizo, including ones made with real meat, are very much squishy in nature. chorizo is not suposed to be sliceable, but rather smashed into small pieces into some other dish such as eggs.

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  3. Alright - enough ragging on me for not knowing every single thing about chorizo. I said right in my post that it was only the second time I'd ever eaten it, and the first time was a sliceable version that a classmate of mine made at school. Plus, Wikipedia (as far as I'm concerned, the ultimate information resource) says that there are different types of chorizo, which the first commenter also referenced, and some are meant to be sliced.

    Consider me now an expert in chorizo types. Some are crumbly, some are more firm. Some are spicier, some are less spicy.

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  4. What's up with these haters? Girl, I loved your review, and completely agreed with your opinion on the soy chorizo. Not everyone knows everything about sausage, jeez, and if you do, well, then you probably have too much time on your hands. Especially if you get a thrill out of hating on some kick-ass blogger. Not to point fingers...jm and bbgrl2008.

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  5. Aww... thanks! It's good to know there are people out there willing to back me up!

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  6. Just made a soup with a package of the Soy Chorizo. Potatoes, celery, pepper, jalapeno, etc... Wow, the chorizo really added some kick to the soup (chili soup would be a good way to describe it). It even had kind of an oily-ness to it that I have trouble reproducing without adding animal fat/bones. Would definitely explore other dishes with this stuff.

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  7. Sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I just tried TJ's soy chorizo. I thought it was GREAT but probably a little too spicy for my family. I didn't make a recipe with it...wanted to taste it first. I imagine that it would be less spicy when mixed with other ingredients. I give it a THUMBS UP!!! Now I just need to find a recipe to use it in.

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  9. I made chorizo, pablano and yam fajitas (epicurious recipe here: http://tinyurl.com/loof5a) with TJ's soy chorizo. I thought it was awesome.

    Interesting site. I am just starting to have a good look around...

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  10. I made a soy chorizo quiche this weekend and it was fabulous! I made a similar quiche using real chorizo a while back and this version was an equally delicious but much healthier version of the original. All ingredients from TJ's: pie crust, soy chorizo, 5 eggs, half a red onion, a green bell pepper, about 1/2 c fat free ricotta cheese, and grated pepper jack cheese. Mixed everything together in a bowl, then poured it into the crust and cooked it at 350 for about an hour. Delish!

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  11. Made this for the family and it was gross, and everyone who ate more than a bite or two of the chorizo had diarrhea for two days. Cannot recommend.

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  12. Soy does sometimes cause gassiness for those who aren't regular consumers, but diarrhea is pretty unlikely. It's one of Trader Joe's most popular products, and it was causing such symptoms, I'm sure it would be well known by now.

    It seems like there is a good chance that your family picked up some kind of food poisoning, possibly from something else in the meal.

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    1. I looked this up specifically because my husband and i think its tasty but on two separate occasions we cooked it both got diarrhea as well!! something is up!

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    2. Everyone responds to foods differently...so it seems that soy chorizo does not work for everyone. I, personally, love it and have no side effects.

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  13. @Tikkun/April, interesting. My sister tried this Trader Joes chorizo and her family experienced the diarrhea as well. Just saying...a little more well known now.

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    1. I love TJ's soy chorizo. It's delicious, and as other people have mentioned Mexican style chorizo is suppose to be a ground meat consistency. I do think it's funny that people think it's too spicy. It must be a regional thing. I actually think it's spicy, meaning flavorful, but as for heat factor, it's quite tame. In fact, sometimes I dress it up with sauteed Serrano chilies because there really isn't any heat.

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  14. Wow, people are kind of b*tchy about the chorizo types. I just want you to know that I found this article very informative -- it told me exactly what I needed to know about the soy chorizo. Thank you!

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  15. I also though this was a great review- I have never had chorizo before so I just bought it at the off chance that I would like it. When I googled it and your review came up it prepared me because like you, I was expecting it to be solid like sausage. Anyway- I made it in pasta a few days ago and tonight I made it in tacos. I thought it was great, I feel like I could probably pass it off in tacos as regular meat to my carnivorous friend. No diarrhea thank goodness. Love the site!

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  16. Just tried this tonight, with some TJ's frozen tricolor bell pepper and fresh onion, mixed it with rice--yum!

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  17. Oh my golly, this stuff is good. I bought this on a whim and had been eyeing it distrustfully for 2 weeks before I stumbled on this site. I was trying to figure out what to make with it and was searching for recipes. Your review made me bold enough to give it a go with little attempt to cover the dreaded fake meat taste. I added it to tofu scramble with a few peppers and a little tomato sauce. I was in heaven and my die-hard carnivore husband asked for more. Win! We both thought it would make an awesome chili, so we are making chili-cheese fries tonight. Oh, chili-cheese fries, how I love you. How I've missed you!
    I will be coming back to this site time and again!

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  18. Try these in an omelete, scrambled eggs, on a pizza. The red color adds to these rather than running all over your hands. Thanks for this review.

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  19. I eat this chorizo with scrambled eggs and maybe a little Valentina (because I like it spicy) wrapped in a corn tortilla. It's one of my favorite dishes. 1/4 of the "sausage" + 2 eggs is a perfect balance. I'm also Mexican and used to the regular chorizo. After becoming vegetarian and moving to NYC from Texas, I searched for certain comfort foods and found it in Trader Joe's Soyrizo! =)

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  20. I never tried this particular brand of soy chorizo, but I've cooked with soy chorizo quite a bit. Like most soy products, it is not its meat counterpart... but the difference is a good thing depending on the effect that you want. A major problem with soy chorizo is that it can stick like a bitch to the skillet. For this reason, I suspect that Bouldin Creek in Austin is a little weary of soy chorizo other than breakfast tacos. But you just have to stir and use some olive oil... the olive oil also makes up for the lack of grease generated. I would recommend using it with vegetables, onions, garlic, and potatoes to create a vegetable chili/mush... it's super filling, so pretty effective to make in bulk and have a lot of meals... but you have to spent a fair amount of time chopping... that might deter a lot of people from pursuing a recipe...I've used two brands, I don't think highly of frida's soyrizo... I prefer a brand that comes in a plastic wrapping that's sealed at the end by little bits of metal... like some chorizo and ground beef packaging... I never noticed the brand name but I've only seen in an HEB in Austin... frida's soyrizo isn't bad but it's overpriced as well as inferior to the other one... I'm interested in trying trader joe's but I'm not in the states for a few months. I think it's better with a potato than rice base...

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  21. I actually thought it was really good. I just used it as a very easy ground-beef replacement in hard taco shells and loved it. I pulled off some pretty healthy tacos, using the soy chorizo, greek yogurt (instead of sour cream), spinach (instead of lettuce), and some great pico-de-gallo from whole foods. Turned out great, I'd say even better than the standard tacos I usually make.

    I give the Soy Chorizo a solid A.

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  22. I'm eating Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo right now (as I type). I fried it up with sliced onions and corn in olive oil.

    That plus some left-over couscous and I have a tasty lunch. Add hot sauce if you like it very spicy.

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  23. I've used the chorizo to replace ground beef in my spaghetti and it is really good, especially if you saute garlic, onions and peppers first, add the chorizo and then the sauce and let it simmer. It's simple enough but it really is delicious... in this recipe you can't tell the difference between the fake meat and the real stuff. : )

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  24. I LOVE THE TJ'S CHORIZO!!!!!! I actually use it to make a homemade vegetarian chili!! :) Will have to try it in a breakfast burrito!!!

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  25. Thank you Tracy for "AIFM!" I became in ernest a full on vegan on Jan 1 12 but started checking out your site long before in preparation for my diet change. I wrote last week about the Hickory Smoked Tofurky I tried based on your review and I love it. Now on to the TJ's Chorizo I picked up today (along with more Tofurky and Gimmie Lean Sausage which I LOVE!) and the other posters have given me so many ideas I can't wait to try. Thanks.

    P.S.... I hope you branch out to more products vegetarian and vegans might be interested in such as cheese type items.

    Mleon

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  26. crumble it into their roasted red pepper and tomato soup and dump in a bag of soycatash! PERFECTION! Any meat eater would love it! esp topped with corn chips and sour cream

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  27. I really enjoy TJ's chorizo. I mix it with sauteed onions and mushrooms, then add chopped kale. I'm definitely going to try it with some of the other ideas on this site. Thank you all for sharing!

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  28. Have had TJ's soy chorizo crumbled onto home made pizza along with morningstar fake bacon with TJ mexican blend shredded cheese mixed with part skim mozzarella on top. A bit too spicy for the 3 year old, but for the rest of us, it was delicious and meaty.

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  29. While not a chorizo expert, I am a Mexican American whos been eating the meat-based, crumbly type with eggs and sometimes potatoes (and a little Tapatio hit sauce) in breakfast tacos/burritos since I was a kid. My first experience with Trader Joe's "Soyrizo" came around 10 years ago when my mom cooked up a pack she bought on a whim, and we were all pleasantly surprised @ the authenticic flavor and texture without all the grease and nasty animal scraps. The meat variety may have a slightly richer flavor but it also has way more fat and oil. I think it works because both Soy and normal Mexican chorizo use the same principle: take a mass of grayish, formless and otherwise unappetizing substance that doesn't quite qualify as meat, mix it with a s***load of spices and coloring and Presto! You have an appetizing (and cheap) meal! Nowadays even the major Mexican brands like Cacique sell their own soy chirizo which can be found for around 99 cents at the local Latin grocery stores.

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  30. I've Google searched stuff and I've been brought to your blog quite a few times. Each time, I find your blogs helpful because it answers whatever Q I had to begin with. ALSO I have to say, that every time I've read your blog, I also scroll through the comments and MAN, some people are rough on you and I just don't think that's fair! I've never seen you claim to be an expert on anything, so why the harshness? It's one person's opinion and interpretation of things and I guess while us commenters also have our opinions, they can be done more respectfully. If said commenter has so much to say about chorizo, maybe they should make their own chorizo blog or something. Just sayin'. (That was probably rude, but I'm leaving it!)
    Anyway, that being said, I've used the soy chorizo once in an enchilada casserole and it was a big hit for everyone (I had someone tell me he wouldn't have known it wasn't meat if I hadn't told him). The only one that didn't like it was me, but I think it had more to do with the whole dish and not specific to the soy chorizo.

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  31. just tried the soy chorizo. pretty good! you can cook it as a "sausage" if you heat your pan to about 350 and "seal" it in the sausage form ,use tongs to handle it. had mine with the trader joes 3 humus inside a wheat pita with fresh salsa on top! very good!!

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  32. Thank you for your review of this! I had tofu Chorizo for the first time and feel absolutely in love with it. I'm so glad there is a TJ near to me!

    bunnihuggles!

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  33. Im a vegetarian!!! Sounds good!!!

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  34. On 3 separate occasions upon eating this, we got diarrhea. Not the cramping food poisoning doubled over sickness, but just gassy sputtering diarrhea. Not sure if it's because the Trader Joes around here keeps them close to room temperature or what.

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  35. I think I'll find a food I've only tried once and do a head-to-head comparison of the meat vs. meatless version of it. That's bound to be useful.

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  36. This gave me diarrhea like taco bell, tried it over the weekend. Otherwise, it tasted acceptible, really soy-ish aftertaste.

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  37. This gave me cramping stomach ache and diarrhea. It also has an odd smell to it. I recommend the Tofurky Chorizo instead.

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  38. Made this for my family, it didn't go over well. Diarrhea was the result for my husband. I had terrible gas as a result too.
    I recommend Soyrizo over the Trader Joe variety.

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  39. This stuff is pretty bad and made me crap my pants. It has a slightly spoiled taste to it, kinda vinegary. A few people I know that tried it also say this brand is terrible.

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  40. I tried this once and it made me urinate uncontrollably for a week. Each day I had to tie fresh kittens round my knees to stop the puddles flowing from me.

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  41. Tastes okay. Kinda sour tasting. Gave me bad cramps.

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  42. they must have changed the recipe this taste awful now.

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  43. I use TJ's Chorizo as a taco meat alternative, and it's so GOOD.. I also use it for lunch on the cheap..I will put 1/4th of TJ's Chorizo in prepared Oriental Flavored Ramen. Though, I make my Ramen like we do back home (Japan) as a noodle soup.. not sure how this would work in "dry" Ramen (Ramen without water, but drained and then the seasoning pack added)... I've tried "dry" Ramen before, and no wonder people feel they need to eat 2 packs at once (those I know anyway), make it in soup form and it's VERY filling, make it dry and it's not at all filling.. Anyway, the chorizo Ramen "lunch on the cheap".. works out to be around 75 cents per serving.. and it's Yum. :D

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  44. Do you like farting? If so, this will make you VERY happy.

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  45. wow this is bad even for vegetarian standards. doesn't taste anything like chorizo, and gives and upset stomach

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  46. Tastes fine, but you'll spend every 15 minutes for the next 12 hours on the toilet contemplating that meal in every detail.

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