Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trader Joe's Mini Chicken Tamalitos

I've bought these "tamalitos" twice now. The first time I tried disregarding the cooking instructions, because they called for steaming the things, and who does that? I mean, processed frozen foods are intended by what our founding fathers called "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" to be shoved in a microwave oven and eaten two minutes after they come out of the freezer. Amirite?

Well, not these puppies. No. I guess you'd call them "delicate." The box does have microwave heating instructions, but they involve multiple steps, wrapping in wet paper towels, and so on. So instead I decided to forge my own path and just heat them up in my toaster oven. The result was not pretty. The parchment paper they're wrapped in got charred before the food was really heated. It was both a mess and a disappointment.

So I bought another box, determined to be a good boy and steam them properly. Fortunately, my sweet girlfriend gave me a rice cooker for Christmas, and it has a steamer basket insert. That's what I used. This time they came out fine--probably pretty close to the way they're intended to turn out. The second photo above is from this second try, not the unsuccessful first try.

The resulting texture was nice, but the taste? Bland. Really, really bland. Like, so bland your mouth asks your brain, "Dude, this is Mexican food? Are you sure? Can you check the box again?" That "red sauce" the subheading on the box promises was practically nonexistent.

I fixed that with the universal cure-all for bland food: Sriracha sauce. But then the result is that all I'm tasting is the sauce, not the stuff I paid for and spent 20 minutes steaming. What's the point of that? I could just dip some cardboard in Sriracha and get the same result.

Between the fussy heating instructions and the completely uninteresting, unexciting taste, I have to designate this item a fail.

Will I buy it again? 

Not unless somebody gives me some good reason to think that there's a way of preparing them that makes them a lot better than how I did it.

Special note 

Nina has been a committed vegetarian for many years. Over the time that I've known her, my diet has gradually shifted in that direction. I probably now eat only one-third of the meat I used to, and that fraction may will continue to drop, as I keep discovering tasty new meat-substitute products. Which means that reviews of TJ's products containing meat--like this one--are likely to be pretty rare on this blog.

1 comment:

  1. You should have nuked it. I add a tbsp of water to a dish, cover and nuke for a couple minutes. These are wonderful with a little guacamole and spicy salsa. I like that the size of them so I can choose to have just 1 or 2 as a side to a Mexican meal. Love them.