July 27, 2012

Quorn Kung Pao Chik'n

This week, something new from Quorn: Quorn Kung Pao Chik'n.

I saw this entree on a recent stocking up trip at the local hippie health food store, and figured I'd give it a shot. I usually steer clear of Kung Pao items, as they are often too spicy for me, but what the heck - if it ended up being too spicy, I'd pass it off to my wife, who can handle much more heat than I can .

So I popped it into the microwave to heat it up, and then, well, it was hot. Not much to say about heating things up in the microwave. Right away I knew what the problem was going to be. Not the spiciness, as I'd feared, but the overwhelming ginger flavor! To be fair, the box does state that the sauce is a "sweet & spicy ginger and garlic sauce" so it was pretty true to its word. Not enough garlic for me, but I very rarely find something with "enough" garlic. As for its spice level, there was definitely some heat to it - the truly hardcore probably wouldn't notice it, but it's there. But the major player here is the ginger.

As for the rest of the elements, the noodles were surprisingly firm, in a good way. Often, with frozen meals, any pasta involved ends up mushy and gross, but not this time! And the fake chicken chunks had a decent chewiness to them as well.

So, if you like spicy ginger-flavored stuff, give this a whirl. If you don't like ginger (like me), I'd steer clear.

The experience:
Texture - good chewiness, both to the fake chicken and the noodles
Flavor - GINGER!

Final grade for this attempt: B (or maybe higher, if you like ginger)

July 20, 2012

Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage

This week, a guest post! I made my best friend Dan try this sausage with me, and it's a good thing I did, since it ended up being too spicy for me. Here's what he had to say about Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages:

To begin, these sausages were wrapped up in a plastic casing like real-meat sausage links. A word of warning: the casing did not entirely contain the bright red juice these sausages are infused with and it seems like it could stain if not dealt with in a timely fashion.

So, we cut open the casings, sliced up the sausages and fried em up in ye olde skillet. The instructions led us to believe that this product might be the crumbly type of sausage, but they held their shape through cooking and eating, so you can use them just like links. When served, we got them nicely crisped on the outside and warm and chewy on the inside. I'm a big fan of fake meat sausages and these were looking promising.

At this point we discovered that these bad boys ARE spicy. They were a bit beyond Tracy's spice tolerance and near the end of mine. Now, I'm not big into spicy foods so I'm only the relative expert. I'd say their spice level is pretty close to run-of-the-mill "Hot" salsa. So while Tracy declared this product dead to her, I had a few more bites and tried to formulate my opinion.

The initial bite went much better than some of the fake-meat adventures I've been on in Tracy's kitchen. The texture was natural and possibly even enjoyable, but not a meat-like texture. It was a little dry as well, but that is probably due in part to frying it up. The flavor is the problem. I won't count the spice level against it, but there was no feature to the spice other than "hot." It was not a pepper-spicy or a curry-spicy, it was just "hot." Completely boring. No other flavors managed to make it through the heat, either. None of the traditional sausage flavors survived, if they were there at all. These sausages are hot and bland at the same time.

My closing decree is that these sausages are just another bland attempt at fake meat, with a poor attempt to cover it up with spiciness. They are serviceable as sustenance if you can handle the heat, but since fake sausage has so many other better success stories, I don't see these surviving on many peoples' menus.

The experience:
Texture - definitely not unpleasant, but not even close to "meat"
Flavor - bland except for featureless "hotness"

Thanks, Dan, for providing more information than "OMG HOT!" which would be all I  could produce.

Final grade for this attempt: C-

July 6, 2012

Tofurky Breakfast Links

This week, it's a new breakfast sausage: Tofurky Breakfast links.

I cooked these up in a skillet with a little oil to crisp them up on the outside, like a proper breakfast sausage, and served them up with some leftover strawberry pancakes. Exciting, yes? Well, not exactly.

The sausages had an okay texture. Not mushy or overly chewy - just the right amount of chew. But the flavor was a big disappointment for me. I'm used to a little spiciness, maybe, and some nice herby flavors, like sage. This tasted, to me, like someone dumped a large amount of black pepper into the mix and called it a day. The ingredients include things other than pepper, but I couldn't taste anything else. I tried a bite of sausage with a bite of pancake, but the peppery sausage flavor drowned out the delicious strawberry slices in the pancakes! This simply wouldn't do, so I ditched the sausage.

Sorry, Tofurky, this one is just not a winner. In fact, every Tofurky sausage variety I have tried has come out simply mediocre. Maybe this just isn't your thing?

The experience:
Texture - nicely chewy
Flavor - nothing but peppery flavor - where are my other spices?

Final grade for this attempt: C