Bao Down to Flavor: Trader Joe’s Mini Shrimp Bao Review

Trader Joe's Mini Shrimp Bao
Trader Joe’s Mini Shrimp Bao

When it comes to quick and tasty meals, Trader Joe’s never disappoints. Their latest offering, the Mini Shrimp Bao, promises a delightful burst of flavors packed into a perfectly steamed bun. As a busy parent, I’m always on the lookout for convenient and delicious options to keep my family satisfied, and these little gems caught my eye instantly. Join me as I “bao down” to the latest sensation from Trader Joe’s and discover if these Mini Shrimp Bao live up to the hype. Spoiler alert: your taste buds are in for a treat!

Trader Joe's Mini Shrimp Bao back of box
Trader Joe’s Mini Shrimp Bao back of box

What are Bao?

Bao, short for baozi, are traditional Chinese steamed buns that are soft, fluffy, and typically filled with a variety of delicious ingredients. Originating from China, bao have become popular worldwide due to their versatile nature and delightful taste. These buns can be savory or sweet, with fillings ranging from succulent meats and vegetables to sweet pastes and custards. They are a staple in Chinese cuisine, often enjoyed as a snack, appetizer, or even a main dish. The unique texture and rich fillings of bao make them a beloved treat for food enthusiasts everywhere. As Trader Joe’s mentions, these are made in Vietnam and are very popular their also.

Trader Joe's Mini Shrimp Bao in the box
Trader Joe’s Mini Shrimp Bao in the box

What is in the box?

Trader Joe’s gives us eight of these mini bao in the box. Each bao is sliced open and has a patty of ground up shrimp, vegetables and other binders like cornstarch but if you inspect the patty closely, you’ll see some pieces of shrimp in them. The patty looks like it’s been deep fried but any crispiness goes away after you cook them. The bao looks like whipped cream it looks very light and airy like bao should be.

The box also comes with a packet of dipping sauce which is close, but not the same, as Trader Joe’s Thai Sweet Ginger Sauce so if the packet isn’t enough, go out and get some of that sauce as a backup. I actually l liked the sauce in the bottle more than what came with the bao.

Do not be deceived by the picture on the box, there are not any matchstick carrots and sliced cucumbers in the box. You need to provide those. I will have a short recipe to make quick pickled carrots, jalapeno and cucumbers at the end of this review to put on your bao.

Trader Joe's Mini Shrimp Bao ready to steam
Trader Joe’s Mini Shrimp Bao ready to steam

How to Prepare the Bao

Trader Joe’s gives us two methods on how to prepare them—steaming them or nuking them in the microwave. I chose to steam them because I have the equipment (I am an Asian food nut so I have a fully equipped kitchen to handle steaming) and I wanted to give the best possible representation of this product possible.

First thing you want to do is get the frozen sauce packet and stick it in a bowl of hot water and come back to it in about five minute. Go prepare the bao.

I got out my steaming basket and arranged the bao and steamed them over a wok with about 1/2″ of water in the bottom for about 10 minutes until the internal temperature was 165f.

Steaming the bao
Steaming the bao (I took the lid off)

If you want to microwave them, just put them on a plate and run a paper towel under some water. Squeeze out the water. Spread the paper towel over the bao you want to microwave and then run them for 90 seconds adding a few more seconds for each bao you cook. They should be almost as good as regular steamed.

After they are cooked, you can put the optional vegetables on top and squeeze the sauce into a small bowl and enjoy!

Trader Joe's Mini Shrimp Bao closeup
Trader Joe’s Mini Shrimp Bao closeup

Quick Pickled Vegetables Recipe

Trader Joe’s is doing a disservice by not providing an accurate recipe for serving these bao. Seeing these are from Vietnam, it would be completely appropriate to serve these with quick pickled carrots, Persian cucumbers and jalapenos.

  • 1 carrot julienned into matchsticks
  • 1 Persian cucumber sliced into rounds
  • 1 jalapeno sliced into rounds or pickled jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup of Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 of water
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 cube of frozen ginger

Mix everything together and let sit, stirring occasionally for at least 1/2 hour or more.

Trader Joe's Mini Shrimp Bao ready to eat
Trader Joe’s Mini Shrimp Bao ready to eat

Final Verdict

Let me say up front that I really enjoyed these. At $4.99 you are getting something that is close to restaurant grade bao that you can just pop in the microwave. Eight bao like this at a restaurant might cost you $12-$15 or more. The sauce, while a little bland compared to the much superior Trader Joe’s Sweet Thai Ginger sauce, but is a nice addition if you don’t have a bottle of the Thai sauce on hand. The bao is sweet, airy and tender, just as you would expect. The shrimp patty is flavorful and you can see bits of shrimp and veggies in each patty. Eight of these would be a meal for me but I think you would want to split these with someone and serve them as a side dish or an appetizer to a main course.

At the end of the day, I really liked this. I love that Trader Joe’s brings these types of food to the masses and I hope they keep doing this! I am going to give them 9 out of 10 stars!

Trader Joe’s Mini Shrimp Bao

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