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We are always happy to see new Saffron Road products in the market. Even though their track record is about 50/50 with our tastings I have an overall good perception of the brand and am hopeful when checking out with their products. I am equally hopeful when a convenience meal contains seafood.
You see, it is pretty difficult to pull off: cooking fish, freezing it, and then reheating in the microwave is a challenge. I have a few recipes on the Dr. Gourmet website that are designed for this. One is a Saffron Salmon Risotto. That dish can be adapted easily with a lot of flavors and it reheats well, but you have to be gentle with it. There is a risk of drying out the fish in the freezing and reheating, as microwaves are hard on fish. If you are doing this in commercial size batches and shipping it across the country, it seems almost impossible.
Saffron Road attempts this with a Masala Curry Fish dish. The numbers look pretty good: 250 calories, 470 milligrams of sodium, and 3 grams of fiber. The package says that the fish is wild caught Alaskan Pollock. Pollock is not a very fatty fish, however, and that poses a special challenge in reheating because a microwave works primarily by exciting the water in a particular ingredient, and Pollock is more water than fat. As such, when it is reheated in the microwave it runs a very high risk of drying out.
That happens with this Saffron Road meal in a big way. The dish is set up for failure by the choice of seafood. With reheating the fish dries out and the thinner slices (there's not a lot of fish to begin with) are tough and chewy.
A better choice of fish might not save this dish. The rest of it is, well, just boring. There is some spiciness and some rice that is serviceable. It contains a few scattered vegetables and some peas (the five peas pictured on the box might be an accurate representation). It's just a mediocre meal at best without the bad fish, but taken together this is a major disappointment.
If you think that seafood is hard to cook, package, freeze, ship, store in the freezer case at your local market, then reheat in the microwave, try it with rice noodles. But that's what Saffron Road attempts with their Chicken Pad Thai.
You see, cooking rice noodles can be a bit fussy on its own. They can turn out gummy with 2 minutes of overcooking on the stovetop. I did not have high hopes for this meal when I saw it in the freezer case and my expectations were met. Not with the noodles, mind you. Those actually turned out OK, if a bit dry. Not gummy at all as I expected.
It's the sauce. The front of the package describes this as an "Exotic Peanut Sauce." This is true if you think of "exotic" as Tennessee and "peanut sauce" as barbecue sauce. First off, there is not enough sauce along with the unusually dry rice noodles (and I forgot to mention the very, very, very dry chicken). The second issue is that it tastes nothing like Pad Thai sauce but too much like barbecue sauce you might get in a bottle – tomatoey and vinegary with a bit of nondescript spice. This is just bad in every way. Sadly, we are 0 for 2 this go 'round for Saffron Road.
Reviewed: May 19, 2017