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This week we have another set of reviews from two different companies - two of our favorite frozen food companies, actually. Both Saffron Road Food and Sweet Earth Foods have had far more hits than misses in our reviews, so it's nearly always a good day when we find new products from either company.
I could have sworn that we'd reviewed the Beef Bulgogi from Saffron Road Food, but our records say we haven't. (I must have been thinking of the Bibimbop with Beef.)
The description seems promising enough: "Beef Bulgogi with Brown Rice," although the numbers are only the positive side of fair, in my opinion, at 330 calories, 590 milligrams of sodium (1.78 in our ratio of sodium to calories), and 4 grams of fiber. It's always good to see a dish presented with brown rice!
It certainly smells good while in the microwave, and as we put it into the machine a panelist noted that the pieces of bok choy noted on the box are definitely visible.
Those pieces aren't quite so obvious once the dish comes out of the oven, however, but the panel insists that it doesn't matter: the flavor is worth it.
The beef in this dish is thinly sliced and there are plenty of slices (for a frozen food meal, that is): "No skimping here!" said a panelist. The slices are a little chewy, but "no more than you'd expect for thinly sliced sirloin," with a little bit of a sweet, "brown-sugar-like," taste to the marinade.
The brown rice is as nutty and chewy as you'd want brown rice to be, and while the veggies in this dish tend to break up into the whole, the scallions and bits of bok choy and sprouts do add a bitter note and a hint of crunch. The box is labeled "mild," and the panel considered that evaluation to be accurate: "just the slightest hint of a burn," they said. Overall? "Savory, hearty, and good." If you eat beef, you'll enjoy this one.
The panel was pretty excited (as much as it ever is, reviewing frozen foods) to be tasting the General Tso's Tofu from Sweet Earth Foods. Not only does Sweet Earth have a good reputation with us, a spicy meal like General Tso's anything would seem to be ideal for a frozen meal. The numbers aren't great, at 330 calories, 690 milligrams of sodium (the very top end of acceptable at just over 2:1 in our ratio of sodium to calories), and 4 grams of fiber), but we were willing to overlook the excessive sodium in the hopes of a tasty dish.
Unfortunately, our first impression of the meal wasn't a good one: we counted 7 tiny florets of not-quite-but-nearly-overcooked broccoli ("put down that there were really 6 tiny florets and one even smaller") in the dish - not even a quarter-cup - and the tofu appeared... breaded? Indeed, the tofu is breaded with something that's "mushy... gooey... and flavorless" and the tofu itself is both chewy ("like soft rubber bands") and similarly flavorless. This is the kind of tofu that puts people off eating tofu.
Sure, the brown rice is well cooked and has its distinctive, nutty flavor. And the sauce, at least in the bowl we got, is actually hiding at the bottom of the bowl: at first glance we would have sworn there wasn't much more than a teaspoon in the whole dish. The problem is that even if there were enough sauce, it's so salty you don't want any more. "It's more like sweet 'n' sour tofu than General Tso's tofu," agreed the panel. With chewy, gooey, flavorless tofu and painfully salty (sweetish) sauce, we can't recommend it. Choose the Beef Bulgogi from Sweet Earth Foods instead (if you eat meat).
Reviewed: December 8, 2017