This is something I’ve seen in the frozen section of Trader’s and have past it by a thousand times and haven’t bought it. I have to say that when I see these Chinese food in a bag in the freezer section, they are usually sweet and without a lot of interesting flavors, so I’m hesitant to taste them. I would rather try something more interesting. When I tried the #1 rated (by customers) item at Trader Joe’s, the Mandarin Orange Chicken, I was underwhelmed by the whole thing. I thought it was basically fried chicken popcorn slathered in a spicy, sweet sauce. Meh… Not very healthy for you either.
This looked a lot better for you with all the vegetables and it includes rice. I figured that it’s been around for a while, it must be a popular dish so I picked one up the other day to see what it was about. I have to say that this is one of the few times that the picture on the bag looks exactly like what I made!
I don’t have any great expectations that this will taste anything remotely like good Chinese food (So how does Trader Joe’s get the name Ming’s for it’s Chinese foods?), but it’s not always about authenticity but does it taste good and is it good for you? In this case I think both are true.
This dish is a little more complicated than your average ready to eat meal. Just look at what comes in the bag! Three smaller bags and mixed in with that is all the vegetables and chicken. I had to cut open the outer bag and dump everything into a bowl and fish out the three smaller bags. Wait it gets better!
The instructions say that the best method is on the stove top and I agree for these types of dishes, but really you need to use a microwave and the stove top. One thing I noticed right off the bat is that the apparent lack of chicken. I mean like there is three pieces in there from what I can tell. Usually with Trader Joe’s there is a good balance between meat and vegetables and sometimes too much meat!
To start off the whole thing you need to put the sauce pack in a bowl of hot water, then you need to start to saute the vegetable/chicken mixture in some oil for a couple of minutes until cooked through. Then you stick the rice in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Then you dump the sauce in the pan with the rest of the stuff. Rice comes out into a bowl then the mixture on top of that then you sprinkle the cashews on top that. I opted not to use the whole sauce pack, it just seemed like it was way too much sauce. I think I used about half of it and I thought the amount of sauce was perfect!
I really loved the all the vegetables in the is and then the nice crunch of the cashews. The sauce was slightly sweet but really had nicely coated all the vegetables and chicken pieces. The read peppers were a little mushy, but not too bad. The sauces was spicy but not too over the top like some I’ve had from Trader Joe’s. There was a slightly orangey flavor to the sauce. The rice was good, but tasted a little too processed like Uncle Ben’s rice. Finally, where’s the chicken?!?!? Like I said, I only had a few pieces of it. I’m not sure if it was just a one time thing with this bag or just the way it is with this product. I’d love to hear from anyone else that has had this dish.
All in all, I really liked this dish. I thought it was a great meal in a bag for a busy weeknight and was slightly complicated to make, but to be honest, so much easier than making it from scratch. I would easily buy this again for myself when Becky is away for the evening and I don’t want to eat pizza again with the kids!
I am going to rate this Trader Joe’s Citrus Glazed Chicken a solid 8 bells!