“ Brand: Ainsley Harriott / Type: Other Ready Meals „
I bought Ainsley Harriot's Sweet 'n' Spicy Vietnamese Kho with noodles in a caramelised sauce from Sainsburys. It was on offer for only £1. All the ingredients you need are in the box except for either the chicken or pork. The box states that it serves 2 people in 20 minutes in just 4 easy steps. This sounded ideal after a long day at work and whilst attempting to cook on a budget.
The box itself is made from cardboard so is very easy to recycle. The packaging is predominantly black and bright sky blue. I was very impressed with the packaging, everything was clearly labelled and the box itself was good quality.
Inside the box were 5 sachets. Each sachet was clearly numbered from 1 to 5 to show the order I would need to use them in. So far I everything seemed very straight forward. Now for the 4 steps...
1.) Fry the meat (I had chosen chicken breast cut into pieces) in a pan with some oil. This was very straightforward. This took about 5 minutes until the chicken was lightly browned.
2.) Then add sachets number 1, 2 and 3. This is the vegetable and ginger mix, the Demerara sugar and the sauce mix. You also need to add 250ml of water. Simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens. This happens fairly quickly and it is important to stir it often to prevent sticking.
3.) Put the noodles in a separate pan and cook for 4 minutes.
4.) Serve out into two serving bowls (I didn't bother with this I just put the noodles straight onto a plate and spooned the chicken and sauce over. Sprinkle over sachet 5 which is just dried coriander.
It looked and smelt delicious but how did it taste?
The noodles were not anything special and no different to the plain dried ones that you can buy in the supermarket. However when mixed with the sauce they were really delicious. The sauce itself is quite thin and had a very authentic texture and taste. The taste was definitely sweet 'n' spicy as it claimed. It was sweet tasting at first but it had a kick to it. It was quite spicy and I could really taste the chilli in it. If you're not a fan of hot food then this may not be for you. It does state on the box that it is spicy showing an illustration of two chillies to represent the spicyness.
Overall this was a delicious and filling meal for two and was great value for money. It was really simple to cook and the taste was very authentic. I will definitely be having it again.
Having recently been impressed by the Bengali Keema Masala Dinner kit from the Ainsley Harriott World Kitchen range, I decided to try out the Sweet 'n' Spicy Vietnamese Kho with noodles in a caramelised sauce.
It is described as an authentic noodle dish with vegetables and ginger garnished with coriander, ideal with chicken or pork. The box claims the meal can be made in four easy steps, serving two people in 20 minutes.
Upon opening the attractively illustrated cardboard box, I discovered 5 sachets, all clearly numbered for ease of use and labelled with the contents. I then began to prepare the meal following the simple instructions on the reverse of the box.
Step 1 - I opted to make the meal using 2 chicken breasts which I cut into thin strips and lightly cooked in a medium sized saucepan in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until they had browned slightly. Easy. Step 1 completed with no fuss.
Step 2 - The directions then say to add the contents of sachet 1 (vegetable and ginger mix), sachet 2 (Demerara sugar) and sachet 3 (sauce mix) to the pan with 250ml of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. I found that the sauce thickened very quickly and almost dried out, so I needed to add a little more water.
Step 3 - Whilst the sauce is cooking you need to add the contents of sachet 4 (noodles) to a pan containing 600ml of boiling water, bring it to the boil and simmer for 4 minutes.
Step 4 - Drain the noodles and divide into two serving bowls, spoon over the cooked meat and garnish with the contents of sachet 5 (coriander). Upon opening sachet 5, I noticed the coriander garnish looked nothing like the discreet chopped pieces illustrated on the box, my sachet contained a kind of dry green dust.
Does the meal taste good?
The noodles by themselves taste quite bland and I would say there are far too many noodles to be coated with the accompanying sauce so the meal as a whole appears a little dry.
The sauce is described as caramelised, so I was expecting the cooked meat to take on a sticky sweet coating, and was slightly disappointed to find that what little sauce there was didn't have any of these characteristics.
The vegetables in the meal, namely onions and red peppers, were of the freeze-dried "cup a soup" meets "pot noodle" variety and were in my opinion only there for colour rather than taste.
The overall flavour is slightly sweet and quite spicy, I found there was no distinctive ginger taste because it was overpowered by the chilli and because I am not particularly fond of overspiced food, I couldn't eat a great deal of the meal.
Overall, despite my moaning an criticism, I would say that the dinner kit does help you to produce a meal that looks, smells and tastes quite good, particularly if you like food with a chilli kick. The kit did represent good value for money, as I bought mine in Asda on promotion for just £1, however, I don't think I would pay the full price of £2.79 for it.
I can't say that I am a big fan of dinner kits I tend to prefer to cook fresh but working shifts this is at times quite difficult so with money tight I needed something quick and easy that I could make instead of relying on take away or junk food. So while shopping around Asda late one evening my eye caught a selection of black boxes with brightly coloured wording and designs on them and upon taking a closer look I discovered Ainsley Harriotts world kitchen dinner kits. There were four flavours to choose from Bengali keema masala, Kashmiri pasanda, Vietnamese kho and Moroccan kagine (I have since found that you can also get Spanish paella and Lebanese Kafta but have not seen these advertised as yet) being on offer at £2.00 a pack I picked up a Vietnamese kho and Moroccan tangine so for the purpose of this review I will write about the Vietnamese kho.
The box itself is nothing special it is made from cardboard which is great for those who prefer to recycle. On the front of the box there is a picture on the top left hand side of Ainsley Harriott and next to him a picture of the meal that you will get when you have cooked the contents inside which I had not really noticed before writing this review. under this is a blue strip separating this from the main area of the box which is a jet black square covering the rest of the box with Ainsley Harriott written in white and a luggage tag with the words world kitchen dinner kit written in black, looking a little further down it has the name of the product and a brief sentence highlighting what you should expect from this kit, in this case "sweet 'n' spicy Vietnamese kho with noodles in a caramelised sauce, this is all written in sky blue which is what really stood out to me when I first noticed this product. It then has in the bottom left hand corner a blue box with white writing stating that the meal can be made in 4 easy steps, can be ready in 20 minutes and serves 2 this is great if it is true. Your eyes then look next to this box and there ate 2 peppers with medium written next to it showing how hot the food is. If this item does exactly what it says on the box it is just what I am looking for.
The side of the box again completely black in colour shows the other products you can purchase within this range which I have mentioned before the Bengali keema masala, the Kashmiri pasanda and the Moroccan kagine but doesn't give any information on the other products which is quite disappointing and would have been a better advertisement if it had.
The reverse of the box is again in black the information specified gives the contents of the packet so you know exactly what you are getting, the ingredients, nutrition information, allergy advice, and the preparation instructions which do look very easy to follow.
Inside the box
When opening the box I found 5 sachets 3 of which are black again with blue writing another of which is silver with a black and blue label and the last being just silver each are numbered 1-5, 1 being the first ingredient you need to use and 5 being the last. The kit contains everything you need apart from the meat which is clearly written on the front of the box, It is recommended that you use with either chicken breasts or pork tenderloin.
Vegetable and ginger mix - the smell when opening the packet is very pleasant but quite strong at the same time, the first smell I noticed was a soft aroma cant quite make out exactly what it is as the next smell is a strong ginger which doesn't over power but compliments the first spice smell very well, there is also a paragraph containing a couple of interesting facts about ginger on the back of the packet .
Demerara sugar - this just smells to me the same as brown sugar a sweet and delicate smell again you can smell it as soon as the packet is opened but it is not as poignant as sachet 1.
The sauce mix - this is an array of different smells and spices fused together the first smell to hit you is that of soy source for me this is the strongest of smells next to me smells like black pepper which is followed by a chilli and garlic smell non of which seem to over power any others
Noodles - you get two packs of noodles which need to be boiled in a pan very simple, they are just plain noodles so no smell to report
From looking at the box I should be able to cook this in four easy steps and it should be ready in 20 minutes so let's give it a go
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a medium sized saucepan and cook the meat for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. I have done this in a frying pan (hope this doesn't make a difference) Well that is easy enough so far so good.
Add sachet one (vegetable mix), sachet two (Demerara sugar) and sachet three (sauce) to the pan with 250 mls of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. I used a jug to mix the three sachets and the water in so that I could get it evenly over all the chicken this worked ok for me I poured it over the chicken but it didn't form a good source as I thought it would and there were bits left at the end that I had to spoon into the pan but would use this technique again when I try the other dinner kit which was purchased at the same time as this one. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes stirring frequently until the sauce had reduced and thickened So yes another very easy step to follow.
Meanwhile place sachet four (noodles) in a separate saucepan with 600 mils of boiling water. Bring back to the boil and simmer for four minutes, Drain off excess water - now that was very easy too but I understood that from the wording I should start to cook the noodles as the meat was simmering (part way through step two) but would recommend putting the noodles on a little later as they seem to finish a lot sooner than the chicken and source mix.
Divide noodles into two bowls (I used plates) spoon over the chicken and sprinkle with sachet 5 (coriander)
Extremely easy and all done within 20 minutes just as the box says
So can something that comes from 5 sachets and cooked with ease in 20 minutes be at all tasty or will I need to order that take away.
First it looks very nice, smells very nice a subtle spicy smell with a sweet aroma surrounding it my mouth is watering already, so how does it taste. I tried the noodles first these are a big disappointment on their own they taste like the cheap packet instant noodles but ok still edible, eating the noodles with the source and chicken makes up for this though and the plain taste of the noodles really compliments the other flavours perfectly and makes them stand out. So the first bite into a piece of chicken I have a very sweet taste followed by the intense ginger flavour (enough to taste but not too strong that it overpowers) and then the slight tingle of a burn on your tongue and the taste of an infusion of spices and peppers very enjoyable. From the first mouthful to the last the flavours still stand out and leave a pleasant hint of an after taste
Typical values Per 100g (as sold) per ½ a pack 131g (as sold)
Energy 1790kj / 425kcal 2346kj / 558kcal
Protein 9.0g 11.8g
Carbohydrates 64.6g 84.6g
Of which are sugars 15.0g 19.7g
Fat 14.6g 19.1g
Of which are saturates 6.3g 8.3g
Fibre 4.3g 5.6g
Sodium 1.30g 1.70g
So would I recommend this product defiantly it is very quick and easy to make with maximum flavours