My life has been a little hectic as of late. I won’t bore you with too much of the detail, but there’s been a fair bit going on. So over recent weeks, I have found myself looking for a little help in the kitchen, with a view that I could put a little review together of each item for you all. Yes, I’m talking about those handy little ‘recipe kits’ you can buy in the majority of supermarkets these days… And I’ve had quite a bit of fun doing it too!
I’m not talking about those fajita kits… Although they always were very popular in my University digs. The sort of recipe kits you can get now are much more adventurous, and along this mini home-culinary journey I’ve created some really authentic flavours from Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Jamaica, all reasonably (fairly) priced and easy to put together. Some I’d recommend higher than others, and below is a summary of them all in terms of taste, ease and value for money. I have scored them all out of 5 🙂 1 = worst, 5 = best. I hope you enjoy!
Waitrose Cooks’ Recipe Katsu Chicken Curry Kit, £3.99, serves 2
Waitrose Cooks Range
Contains: 1 pouch of katsu curry sauce, 1 pouch of panko bread crumbs and 1 sachet of gochujang chilli paste.
Shopping List: 1 egg, 2 chicken breasts, rice and oil to cook.
Verdict: Overall, this was a fantastic tasting dish. The katsu curry sauce is fruity, spicy and really authentic (I’m comparing to decent restaurant versions). The gochujang chilli paste is an excellent, sweet yet spicy addition. In terms of value for money, I think £3.99 is a little steep, as other supermarkets (such as Tesco) do a version which also includes the rice for only £2.99. However, based on the quality and authenticity of the katsu curry sauce and addition of the gochujang chilli paste, I’d say overall this is a fantastic, cost-effective alternative to a Friday night takeaway for you and ‘bae’ 😉
In terms of ease, it couldn’t be simpler. The instructions, although brief, are easy to follow and the results looked and tasted great. The chicken breasts I used were quite large, I cooked them for about 7.5 minutes on each side over a medium-high heat, and used Rapeseed oil to shallow fry them. Just make sure you check the chicken is fully cooked through before serving!
Score 4.5 / 5
Tesco’s Vietnamese Spring Roll Meal Kit, £1.99, serves 2
Vietnamese Spring Rolls
Tesco Recipe Kits
Contains: 6 rice paper wrappers, vermicelli noodles, peanut dipping sauce.
Shopping List: Cooked prawns or meat, fresh crunchy veg and coriander.
Verdict: Overall, this was easy and they did taste good. The peanut dipping sauce, however, was a little on the tangy-side for me. But then again I was recently spoilt at the launch party of Vietnamese restaurant Pho, in Manchester’s Corn Exchange, so I might just be being a peanut-dipping-sauce-snob.
The instructions were simple, with little illustrations to demonstrate each stage. In terms of value for money, the price is OK to just serve 2, and only 2 (makes 6 rolls) but if you wanted to make any more buying the ingredients separately is much better value.
I wouldn’t buy this kit again, as rice paper sheets and vermicelli noodles are so cheap. If they don’t sell them in your local shop you can easily order them online. The best thing that came away from this experience was the desire to create my own peanut dipping sauce that rivals that of Pho restaurant. Yuuuum.
Score 2 / 5
Spicentice’s Jamaican Jerk Chicken, £2.00, serves 4
Jerk Chicken Thigh / Drumsticks
SpicEntice Spice Kits
Contains: 1 pouch Jamaican Jerk Spice Mix.
Shopping List: Chicken (12 Wings or 8 drumsticks or 8 thighs), 1 small onion, 5 spring onions, 1 lime, 2 garlic cloves, 1 inch piece ginger, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 2 tbsp cooking oil.
This isn’t really a recipe kit, it’s a spice kit, but I am including it anyway because it tasted amazing. It probably tasted amazing because you add so many fresh ingredients to it, but hey-ho, it tasted great and was actually pretty healthy so it’s worth a mention! You do need a food processor or blender to prep the paste, which I guess is a downfall if you don’t have one. The instructions are thorough, clear and include handy tips and extra information which is a nice touch. I got mine via the Portly Grocer, but you can also purchase them direct from their own website.
The instructions are to skin and wash the chicken and score it several times, so the marinade really penetrated the meat perfectly, and you lost all the fat content of the skin. Win win. The paste clung to the chicken and it says to marinade for at least 30 minutes, I left it for 3 hours or so which worked well. Overall, an easy bit of Jamaican sunshine right into your own kitchen. Highly recommended.
Score 4 / 5
Taste Thai’s Easy Pad Thai Kit, £2.29 in Tesco, serves 2.
King Prawn Pad Thai
Taste Thai Range
Contains: Rice Noodles, Pad Thai Sauce and ‘Peanut Mix’.
Shopping List: King Prawns or Veg, 1 egg, fresh coriander, a lime to serve.
Verdict: I do really like the Taste Thai range, their curry pastes are delicious and so is their palm sugar. So I had quite high expectations for this Pad Thai sauce to be authentic and delicious. And it was. The rice noodles were a decent portion for 2 on a weeknight, but Bradley was pretty hungry about an hour later, so next time I would bulk it out a little with more veggies.
The instructions were thorough and straightforward and I guess the best thing about this experience is that now I’ve tried this recipe out at home, next time I’m going to re-create my own ‘pad Thai sauce’ by combining tamarind, fish sauce, palm sugar and chilli. Overall though, a cracking little recipe kit!
Score 4.5 / 5
What sort of recipe kits have you tried recently? Have I missed any which you would recommend trying?
Drop me a note in the comments box below or use the hashtag #sophiesscran on Twitter / Instagram to show me your creations!