22 April, 2010

Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers: Sesame Chicken

Costco had a great deal on Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers last time I was there. They were a four pack for something like seven bucks, and there was a coupon for three dollars off one of these four packs. Awesome deal. So the four packs had one flavor I've reviewed before (twice, even) - Orange Zest Chicken. The other three flavors are Margarita Chicken, Chicken Marinara, and today's entry, Sesame Chicken.

So the prep for these is, like all Cafe Steamers, chuck it into the microwave for four or five minutes, come back, stir, and eat. So after my four minutes are up, I pour everything into the sauce on the bottom of the bowl and stir it up and...

And...oh, are those mushrooms? Gross. Well, first observation is that there are mushrooms in the sauce. (I've always hated mushrooms; they have one of the most disgusting textures to me. But I love the flavor they add to food.) So I'll be picking around the mushrooms.

But everything tastes pretty good: the peas are what I've come to expect from Healthy Choice - cooked so that they're still crunchy but not soft and falling apart, the carrots are slightly crunchy and enjoyable, and the rice is perfectly done and - get this - actually sticky. Yes, Healthy Choice has done a miracle in the frozen food world: they have bestowed upon me sticky white rice to go with my Asian-inspired meal. Aces! The chicken is done perfectly as well, but it tastes kind of like it's been in a lemon juice base. It's got a tang if you taste it carefully, but if you're cutting it up and eating it with everything else you probably won't notice it.

Oh, remember what I said earlier about picking around the mushrooms? No such luck. The mushrooms are pretty well chopped, so it's hard to navigate around them. So other than the kind of rubbery, plasticy texture of the mushrooms, this meal rocks. So what about the sauce? It's thick - like, really thick, almost to a syurp stage - and it's got little sesame seeds in it, but they don't really lend that sesame flavor to everything. You can smell it when it cooks, sure, but other than that, there's so much more going on in this meal that you can't really taste the sesame note alone. And the sauce is very heavy on the sweet, and kind of lax on the spicy. And it tastes like mushrooms, but that shouldn't be a shocker - there's mushrooms throughout the entire thing.

So this meal is pretty good, overall. The veggies done well, and the rice was nothing short of amazing. (sticky rice that's been frozen?! Woah, cool!) The sauce was the letdown here, and it wasn't sue to flavor - it was definitely due to thickness. So, I'm going to minimize my cooking time next time I make it to see if that helps loosen the sauce up a bit.


Anonymous said...

Hi Lynn.

I just tried the Sesame Chicken. I was not impressed with it at all. The flavor was a bit off as it had an old stale taste to me. I have had other flavors of the Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers and found them to passable but not really something I would buy very often.

Say HI to your dad for me/

Fred in SC.

Unknown said...

I ran across your blog completely by random while Googling people's thoughts on Healthy Choice's Cafe Steamers. I've seen a fair amount of negative stuff in my search, so I thought I'd chime in upon finding someone whose opinion mirrored mine, by and large. I'm just finishing my first one, their General Tso's Spicy Chicken, and personally I think it's pretty darn tasty! Thanks for the detailed review, I'll be trying some more.