February 18, 2011

Vegetarian Plus Vegetarian Chicken Drumsticks

Next up in our "Big Game" chicken wing series is the one that didn't quite fit in, but I included it anyway: Vegetarian Plus Vegetarian Chicken Drumsticks with Curry Sauce. Sorry for the non-exact link - this was the closest I could get you. But it's pretty easy to find the product. (Click "Products" up at the top, then "Chicken Meat-Alternatives" on the side, then "Vegetarian Chicken Drumsticks")

First off, I'd like to comment on the copy on the box. I love to check out the promises companies make before I eat their products, and this one made some very big promises. "Vegetarian Chicken Drumsticks are completely meatless, yet have the same flavor, moistness and tenderness of your mother's homemade recipe." That's a tall order, even though I don't remember my mom ever making us chicken drumsticks with curry sauce. But okay, I'll give these a shot.

When deciding on a cooking method (the box lists 4 options: stovetop, oven, deep fry, and microwave) I went with the microwave option because it was the only one listed that didn't include defrosting them first. On the website, the oven directions don't say to defrost them, but I only had the box to work with at the time, and it says to defrost. I also pondered the irony of buying this vegetarian item that talks all kinds of talk about choosing to be healthy and then deep-frying it. But into the microwave they went. Within a very short two minutes, I had piping hot vegetarian chicken drumsticks and some pretty sweet curry sauce to go with them.

Before I get to the tasting, I need to comment on one thing. In the ingredients list, the final ingredient listed is "tofu skin". We discussed what that might mean, since, to my knowledge, tofu does not have skin. I suggested that, perhaps, they used tofu to create a fake chicken skin for the drumsticks, and it appears that I was correct. The website mentions that their drumsticks are "moist, tender and even replicate the skin of real chicken". The result of this replication, however, was that they came out of the microwave looking wrinkly. Not terribly appetizing, but I kept going anyway.

The picture on the box, by the way, I suspect was what these would look like if you deep-fried them. I wasn't expecting golden-brown drumsticks out of the microwave, but they were grayish and wrinkly. And the container of sauce in the picture is not the sauce that comes with the drumsticks. That is not the curry sauce. I think it is perhaps a sweet and sour sauce, like the serving suggestion information on the box. Apparently these are "great with BBQ sauce, sweet & sour or honey mustard sauce" but for some reason they sent them to me with a curry sauce. Oh well.

When it came time to actually eat these, I was not really that excited about it, but I did it anyway. I put the drumstick in my mouth, bit down, and then experienced the extremely unpleasant sensation of my teeth bouncing back, not having actually removed any of the drumstick. It was like trying to take a bite of a dog's chew-toy. Except more juicy and less squeaky. I cut off a piece with a fork and popped it into my mouth. Once it was in there, the texture wasn't too bad, but that first impression was pretty awful. I don't know how much of the texture was due to the microwave and how much was just the actual texture of the product. I think I would be willing to try these again and use a different cooking method, just to test that out, but it might be a little while. I need to let the memory of the rubbery texture fade a little.

Once I got past the texture, the flavor was… okay. Nothing special. The curry sauce that came with these was fine, but for some reason, it just didn't match well with the drumsticks. I think a sweet and sour sauce would be pretty good, and next time I'll probably try it that way.

The experience:
Texture - moist, yes; tender, no; rubbery - that's more like it!
Flavor - not bad, but the sauce didn't work with it

Final grade for this attempt: D


  1. This is kinda funny...

    I just finished eating one of these and I decided to look up the product online and it brought me to your website. I am trying to go "meatless" as well and I absolutely love these drumsticks. I made the mistake of putting them in the microwave the first time and they looked AWFUL, but instead of eating them I put the oven on broil and heated them up that way. The skin became crunchy and golden brown and the result was amazing! I really enjoy this product, but I certainly understand where you are coming from, they SHOULD NOT be microwaved at all!

    Enjoy going meatless!

  2. I tried these back in the day with my ex boyfriend. While they were cooking we were like "wow thats a really familiar noxious smell" then we bit into them, realized they smelled like the fetal pigs we dissected in biology class. Promptly spit them out and disposed of them properly. Never again.

  3. These, along with almost all fake meats, are just terrible in the microwave. Then again, so is real meat.

  4. The "tofu skin" probably refers to yuba, aka bean curd sheets. It's these really thin sheets of tofu, created by skimming off the top of soy milk as it's being turned into tofu. Sort of like pudding skin!

    Some Chinese restaurants have yuba on the menu. They put together like a hundred layers of it, then fry it so the outside is crispy, then slice and put in sauce. Really great chewy texture, not trying to replicate any specific meat. If you ever see it on a menu, you should try it!

    Also, the best version of veggie drumsticks are from May Wah, in NYC. They also do web orders. Best baked in the oven with bbq sauce. http://www.vegieworld.com/cart/product_pages.asp?id=540

  5. I completely agree with Megan...the drumsticks from May Wah are absolutely fantastic. If you bake them in the oven with barbecue sauce, or with a little oil, garlic salt, and oregano, they come out fantastic and will be the closest thing any vegetarian will ever find to baked chicken. Plus, you don't get sick from eating it like you do chicken! :)

  6. I found a paleo friendly vegan Chicken skin alternative. That has been the closest thing taste wise.

  7. There is such a thing as tofu skin, stop in an Asian market you will find it there. Bless you!