Vegetarian Plus Vegan Black Pepper Steaks. Sorry for the generic link - they don't want to make things easy. Just click on Products, then Steak Meat-Alternatives and finally Vegan Black Pepper Steaks. Phew. Okay, moving on.
I've tried a product from this company before, with unpleasant results. But I was informed that the microwave method, as I suspected, was actually the worst way to eat them. So I took that lesson to heart when preparing these black pepper steaks.
These didn't look like they would necessarily benefit from being in the oven, so I opted for the stovetop method. I did pop it in the microwave to defrost it, but then it was straight into the pan. One thing I would change about the directions, however, is the vegetable oil. They recommend adding a small amount of oil to the pan, but I'd argue that there is enough sauce to render the oil unnecessary. Use your judgement.
Next up, the nutrition information says that this package contains four servings. Four? I can argue for two servings, maybe three if this is one course of a five course meal. So, plan for that, people.
Okay, so we've covered cooking, and teeny serving size recommendations. Now, my experience. I ate these with some garlic mashed potatoes (which it suggested on the box, actually). This was a good call, for a few reasons. First reason, the sauce for these dealies is a little bit sweet. Not something I noticed with my first bite, but after a couple, it got more cloying. The saltiness of the potatoes helped balance that out. Also, as one would naturally expect from a box labeled "pepper steak", the sauce was very peppery. Not unpleasantly so, but adding the potatoes helped decrease the chances of biting down on a huge grain of pepper. Maybe some people are into that. I don't know, but I'm not.
More about the meaty bits themselves - they had a surprisingly steak-like texture. Quite chewy, but in a meaty way, not in a rubbery way. I was actually pretty impressed. Unfortunately, as these cool, they do get tougher and tougher, so eat them quickly. I wouldn't say they tasted very steak-ish, but with the peppery sauce, the chewy texture, and the clever veil of mashed potatoes, I could see how someone could imagine they were eating steak. And aside from the slightly extra sweet sauce, there were no unpleasant flavors going on. Not too bad, VegeUSA!
Texture - surprisingly chewy, in a meaty way
Flavor - sauce was a little too sweet, but very peppery, steak bits themselves were savory and not too weird
Final grade for this attempt: A-