It’s been a tremendously long time since I’ve done a product review. I simply don’t have the time or interest for them very much, and very few offers legitimately pique my interest. This is my space, and it’s not a grocery aisle. I mean, as a vegan blogger, there are only so many times you can open up another raw bar, let alone an email about one.
But hey, here I am, live-blogging from IFBC and back in the game with a duo of frozen entrees from Vege USA: who piqued that interest being just that, a duo of fake meaty entrees with an Asian influence. These items don’t exactly fit into my 100 Days Homemade mode, so they were paired with a from-scratch fried rice – something easy to toss together with my hodge podge of fresh farmers market haul with leftover rice while the entrees warmed in the oven.
Typically, there are three food items I’ll willingly consume on any sort of even semi-regular basis from my freezer: brand-new containers of vegan ice cream (which are then forgotten for epic periods), Gardein/Trader Joe’s breaded chickenless tenders – one of my saving graces during busy times, and most importantly, and influentially, tator tots. And it’s usually the same arrangement – frozen product + steamed kale with nooch (and who doesn’t usually have a few leaves of kale in their fridge?)
I decided to accept Vege USA’s offer to try their product because it was both something I would likely never buy in stores, yet something I would order at a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. That being said, the truth is that the coupons sat in my purse for months — but the intrigue was floating.
Drumroll, please – PRODUCT REVIEW TIME IS HERE.
What is it? Vegetarian Plus Vegan Black Pepper Beef and Vegan Ginger Chicken
Company/Brand: Vege USA
Available from? Whole Foods, Food Fight! (in Portland), Loving Hut, Supreme Master and other vegetarian Asian restaurants, and other natural foods stores
How do you make it? See those freezer packs above? Cut ’em open, dump the filling onto a lightly greased baking pan or bundle it in foil and bake. I did the latter because I wanted to keep as much sauce as possible, opening up the packets towards the last 10 minutes of cooking. Definitely make a side of rice if you can. With most frozen foods, I do tend to bake longer than instructed and I’m really glad I did that here to really warm the pieces completely.
How about describing the finished product in one word?
For this part, I asked Julia Legume to join in, since she shared in on the experience.
Julia found the Black Pepper Beef, and I quote, “Scary”, while she found the Ginger Chicken flat-out “Gingerlicious”. Caps used for importance.
Me? I thought the Beef, texture-wise, was definitely “tender” in that way only seitan can be, while one word for the Ginger Chicken really is just that – “GINGAH”.
How about actual thoughts?
From Julia…”Comparing them, I thought that the chicken was much more accessible for people who aren’t in love with the idea of ‘fake meat’. I thought the steak was perfect for the harcore ‘fake meat’ lovers. When I question if something is ‘real’ or not, it worries me, but these people love that”.
I’ve got a soft spot for greasy, vegetarian Chinese food, and these meals were right up that alley – without those greasy feelings. We served them with a side of Thai basil fried rice, but had this been a few years ago, I would have broke out the frozen broccoli and instant white rice (okay, brown rice, and I wouldn’t have cooked it completely, either) and been just as content. I decided to cook both on the same evening for that family-style dining variety.
Let me break it down some more. Both dishes were ….
- surprisingly saucy for frozen meals
- quite…flavorful, with noticeable touches of authentic flavors of ginger, star anise, lemongrass and soy in both the sauce and protein
- easy to prepare
- straight outta Loving Hut!
- and really made me pencil in a kale bowl for the next day…
Memories….The Black Pepper Beef somewhat took me back to gluten I’ve had tucked into tasty nests of fried noodles at vegetarian restaurants, while the Ginger Chicken was more reminiscent of grilled skewers I’ve had over many-a-bún, especially at Loving Huts and vegetarian restaurants in Thailand. The sauces were unlike anything I’d typically make, no mater how much ginger I have at my disposal.
Would I buy some more?
Overall, the Ginger Chicken was a much bigger hit on my dining room table than the Beef, so it would be the pick of the two. Sure, both entrees are healthier and less oily that restaurant equivalents, but….I’m just much more likely to order them out for a treat – and I totally will.
But…should you buy it?!
Do you like fake meaty things? Do you miss Chinese food? Go for it.
This has been a Get Sconed! product review. The entrees were furnished by Vege USA for sample.