I'm a huge Trader Joe's fan. Between the nuts, cheese and wine, I always have a reason to swing by and stock up on my favorite TJ's finds (learn more about the best and worst deals at Trader Joe's). So when I saw one of their new products was a savory fermented mango sauce, I was instantly intrigued. And when I posted about it on my Instagram stories (see my mango sauce highlight @lisadvalente), lots of my friends had questions and almost no one had tried it yet! Here's why I think you should scoop some up on your next TJ's run, how the nutritionals stack up, and how to use it at home to boost the flavor of lots of different dishes.
The tagline on this sauce is what sucked me in: savory fermented mango sauce. It sounded like something I would love and also that wouldn't be easy to replicate at home. According to Trader Joe's, amba sauce is traditionally served in Israel on fried eggplant sandwiches and it's also commonly used as a condiment in the Middle East and India. It's made from ripe mangoes and green mangoes mixed with spices, including turmeric and paprika.
It has a very smooth texture and comes in a pourable bag. The consistency is similar to a thick salad dressing, and it pours easily out of the bag. The amba sauce has a gorgeous yellow color, just like a really ripe mango. You can find it in the refrigerated section—at my TJ's it was near the hummus—for only $3.29 for 14 ounces.
Trader Joe's describes the flavor as, "savory and complex, with some considerable heat." It definitely is savory and complex—the fermentation gives it a little tang—but I wouldn't call it considerably hot. I have a very low tolerance for spicy heat and I doused my tacos and curry with this sauce and never felt a fiery burn in my mouth. I would start with a little bit if you aren't into spicy foods, but also don't let that descriptor scare you away. I found it to be only mildly hot.
Here's where I was pleasantly surprised. The ingredient list was super simple: water, mango, green mango, sunflower oil, garlic, salt, spices, turmeric and paprika. Very straightforward ingredients and similar to how you would make a sauce at home.
In a 2-tablespoon serving, there are:
2 g fat
150 mg sodium
2 g carbohydrate
<1 g sugar
0 g added sugar
0 g protein
The fact that there is no added sugar, and that the sodium is very reasonable for a sauce, made me even more excited. Plus it fits in vegan diets, gluten-free diets and low-carb diets. It also appears to be paleo and Whole30 friendly.
Is it wrong to say on everything? The clerk at TJ's raved about the sauce on grilled chicken, tofu and vegetables. I went home and first tried it by the spoonful to make sure I liked it (spoiler, loved it) before I poured it over chickpea curry. (I figured if it has Indian roots it would pair well with an Indian curry.) I actually thought the mango sauce helped mellow the heat of the curry and the fruit flavors paired nicely with the spices.
Next, I tried it on a taco, instead of hot sauce or salsa, and my mind was blown. If you're a fan of mango salsa, I think you'd love it on taco night too.
I can't wait to try it on grilled vegetables, grain bowls, salads and falafel. TJ's recommends trying it on chicken kebabs and vegetables, like zucchini noodles. Or as salad dressing or stuffed in a pita sandwich.
No matter what, I'm hooked and can't wait to discover more culinary uses. How would you try it first?