As far I know, our Whole Foods doesn't carry this brand. But I'd read about it in VegNews and was quite anxious to try the soy-based fake meats. A cooler arrived at my office a few weeks ago, and I ripped it open to find four boxes: two packages of frozen Vegan Kung Pao Chicken and two packages of Vegetarian Ginger Chicken.
Now, the vegetarian chicken had whey protein in it, so I couldn't eat that. But I gave it to my vegetarian managing editor Susan, who also edits our newspaper's food section and maintains the Hungry Memphis food blog. She generously offered to write a review, which you can find later in this post.
I didn't inspect the packages closely, and I assumed they were all single-serving frozen dinners. Imagine my surprise when I was ready to eat the Kung Pao Chicken, only to find that it makes four servings! You're supposed to mix the meat with veggies and such to make a meal. So earlier this week, I stir-fried the thawed "chicken" with some bok choy in one pan and steamed some squash and broccoli in another. Then I served it all over brown rice:
Wow! The "chicken" has a super meaty texture that's way more realistic than any seitan I could make from scratch. The kung pao sauce was the perfect blend of spicy, sweet, and slightly oily (but oily in a good way!). The only complaint I have are the chili peppers. I loved the spicy flavor they lent the dish, but the pepper pieces were really tough to chew. Maybe it was the freezing that made the texture weird, but I ended up picking them out.
In case you're wondering, the "chicken" is made with soybean fiber, soybean protein, and lots of spices. Yet it has more of a gluten-like texture. Similar to Gardein, but maybe a little meatier.
If I can ever find this stuff around here, I'll surely buy it again. It made a quick week night stir-fry so much easier.
Now, here's Susan's review of the Vegetarian Ginger Chicken:
As Bianca can attest, every day around lunch time, there’s generally a line to use the microwave, and it’s usually something like: Frozen Meal, Frozen Meal, Bianca’s Lunch, Frozen Meal, Frozen Meal, etc.
In my early 20s, I subsisted on frozen meals (that and Diet Coke and Dentyne) but pretty much haven’t had them at all for about 15 years. Then, recently I bought a whole bunch in a 10-for-$10-fueled frenzy. And ... I didn’t think they tasted all that good. Bianca says her issue with most frozen meals is that they aren’t filling.
So that Vegetarian Ginger Chicken Bianca gave me to try? Good and filling.
The ginger-basil sauce, covering the large bits of soy chicken, is excellent. There are generous bits of real ginger in the sauce, and I’ve never encountered a processed meal that dared be so bold with its spiciness. Delicious all around.
Now about that filling part. I turned over the box to check out the nutritional info and saw that each serving is a mere 190 calories. Then I notice that there are 5 servings per 10-ounce box. In the movies, this is the part where they cue the sound effect of the needle being dragged across a record.
I suggest splitting it in two for dinner and lunch. The box suggests serving it with a salad, but I think some steamed broccoli would be just the thing.