I’ll apologise now for how slack I’ve been with updating this. The truth is I’ve been quite busy having a creative block, and trying to come up with features for a radio show I’m presenting. I seem to work better under pressure because I’ve known about the show for months, and a week before the first one, the ideas started and just kept coming.
Maybe I should give myself deadlines for other things that are very close. I can’t immediately think what though. Answers on a postcard please.
So anyway, a week or so ago, bored, browsing Tescos. I had an idea I’d cook something involving duck (instead of chicken) for a change. I was disappointed to see Tescos don’t sell it. Unless it’s not with the beef, pork, chicken, etc for some reason, they don’t seem to do it.
As I wandered the aisles aimlessly, I spotted something similar to the fajitas I’d done before, but described as “Chinese”. For some obvious reason, anything oriental always grabs my attention.
It was pretty much tortillas as before, but involved a few ingredients I’d never eaten before. To my knowledge, I’ve never had “Hoi Sin Sauce”.
And I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a spring onion before either.
It’s a kit of tortillas and sauce and you add your own spring onions, cucumber and chicken.
I did alright with the cucumber, but if truth be told, I couldn’t really think what spring onions looked like.
I browsed the entire vegetable and salad section hoping for something to jump out at me.
So I called my sister and asked her what spring onions looked like. I believe she described them as “little onions with long stems”. I wandered a bit more, then finally gave in and asked a guy putting out apples if they had any spring onions. No.
I had something boring for tea that night. Oven chips or something most likely.
Several days later, I got the spring onions (or “salad onions” as they’re actually described in Tescos for some reason). Went home and followed the recipe on the packet.
Now, as I said I’ve been busy. I intended to write that up when I had it a week or so ago, but never did.
So – tonight I did this same meal for a second time. Partly to refresh my memory, and partly because it’s pretty quick and I didn’t go to Tescos til gone 20.30, so wasn’t cooking til gone 21:00.
So this meal’s ingredients (what it says on the Uncle Ben’s packet):
– Uncle Ben’s Wraps – Chinese Hoi Sin Meal Kit (tortillas, hoi sin sauce, and “oriental spice blend”
– Chicken – about 200g of skinless breast
– 1/4 cucumber
– 2 spring onions
I’ve cut the ingredients in (roughly) half, as it’s meant to serve 4. The first time I cooked this I bought 1/2 cucumber, and it was horrible, so I didn’t bother when I did it tonight. Other than that, I did the same tonight as a week or so ago.
So, back to my trusty wok, chicken cut into strips and fried. I’m fine at that. If anything, I overcook it a bit, but it tastes fine to me and nobody else is desperate enough to need me to cook for them.
That done, you add the “oriental spice blend”. This is a very odd looking thing. It’s a type of powder that looks like a sand and gravel mix that a tiny builder from a model village might use.
It smells bizarre. Not nice at all.
Not to be put off by this, I added it to the chicken and stirred it around.
For those of you wondering, the ingredients listed for the “spice blend” are:
anise seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, pepper, clove, chilli powder, ginger, sesame seeds, garlic powder, sugar, tamarind powder, salt, and plain caramel.
While this is finishing cooking, I set about cutting up the spring onions. The instructions on the Uncle Ben’s Wraps say: “slice the spring onion into thin sticks and place into serving bowls”. I guessed I had to wash the spring onions first, but after that I had a slight issue.
Which bit of a spring onion do you eat? The bulby/oniony bit, or the green bit?
I gave it a sniff at either end, and both ends smell like onion. I guess that’s to be expected.
I had a look on the photo on the box, but you can see a lot more cucumber than onion. I couldn’t see much white – mostly green vegetable-wise, on the box.
As it was a 50/50 shot, I decided on the green leafy bits. After all, they tell you to eat your “greens”.
That done, the instructions tell you to “remove the tortillas, cover with cling film and heat on full power for 1 minute”. Nice and easy that.
Tortillas do intrigue me, as they’re not easily breakable. After warming them, you can fold them around, scrunch them up, and then straighten them back out again.
They should make shirts and trousers out of tortillas. You wouldn’t have to iron them, just put them in the microwave to warm them through, then put them on. Hey presto – instantly to the shape you want them.
I removed them from the microwave and instantly burnt myself.
Maybe trousers made from tortillas aren’t such a good idea after all.
I opened the sauce, and turned off the heat on the chicken and “spice blend”.
It’s just a like a big sandwich from here on. Spoon in some Hoi Sin sauce, spring onion, chicken, roll up, eat.
The first mouthful was ruined the first time I did this by the awful cold cucumber.
I removed the rest from the first one and binned the rest. Tonight when I cooked this, I didn’t buy cucumber at all. Maybe if I cooked the cucumber with the rest it might be nicer.
Spring onion is quite nice though. I’m not saying I’d want to eat it on its own, but it doesn’t taste too bad with something.
The oriental spice blend tastes like nothing I’ve had before.
When it’s cooking it smells like you’ve just set fire to something.
Before it’s cooked it smells bizarrely strong.
After its been cooked and coated all over chicken though, it doesn’t seem so over-the-top. Weird.
The Hoi Sin sauce smells a bit tomato-ey, looks a bit tomato-ey, and according to the ingredients is made of mostly…tomatoes, plum juice, soya, soy sauce, sugar and vinegar.
Altogether, its not bad. Unusually I don’t have to say “but I might change my mind when I have it again”, because I did have it again. Tonight. And it was still nice.
I’m really not sure if it’s good for me at all, as the only vegetables my version of it contains is a couple of small spring onions.
It’s probably healthier than oven chips and and baked beans though.