Gluten Free Review: Saffron Road Chicken Pad Thai
We (by which I mean anyone who has to eat gluten free) all know that Thai cuisine has a tendency to be gluten free. Although there may be ingredients that get slipped in from time to time to make something unsafe (I've seen a lot of so-called "Thai" food that's chock full of soy sauce), a lot of times the rice noodles and curries are completely safe for anyone with a gluten issue.
To be honest, though, I rarely see gluten free Thai food that isn't the "Thai" equivalent of instant ramen. I'm sure you've seen them in the Asian foods section of the supermarket--these combinations of noodles and sauce that require little more than some water and a microwave. They suggest adding meat or vegetables to the mix, but that requires extra time and effort, and anyway the noodles wind up tasting like reconstituted cardboard covered in a sticky, overly sour-sweet sauce. Not exactly pleasant.
The first time I saw this pad thai dinner by Saffron Road it was not gluten free. And I was surprised! Considering it's just a sauce with meat/veggies and rice noodles, it seemed like it would be so easy to make it gluten free! And this was a company that produced gluten free chicken nuggets--how come their pad thai wasn't safe?
Well, they reformulated it and now it's supposedly safe (I hate to make absolute statements about these sorts of things) for the gluten free folk, in addition to being halal, all-natural, and containing humanely-treated chicken (until, I suppose, the time at which they were slaughtered and turned into pad thai ingredients).
The box says that the noddles are now longer. I'm not sure how long they used to be, but most of the noodles in my dinner were fragments. Still, the texture was good. Sometimes rice noodles turn to mush in the microwave, but even after nearly 7 minutes they were firm, even if many of them were about two centimeters long.
As far as I'm concerned, rice noodles shouldn't really have a flavor, and these noodles did not disappoint. They assimilated into the dish very nicely with no icky cardboard flavor, like I usually find with instant rice noodles.
This dinner requires four minutes of microwaving, then stir, then microwave some more. When I opened it to stir everything around I saw the sauce was in thick chunks while there was a lot of liquid toward the bottom of the tray. Stirring brought the two together, so that when the last two-and-a-half minutes were over, I had a not-too-thick, not-too-thin brownish-red sauce covering all of my noodles and chicken.
Unlike a lot of the instant pad thai sauces, this one was pleasantly sweet, a little sour, and pleasantly peanutty. There were detectable bits of peanut in the sauce too.
Chicken and Others
One of the great things about this dinner is the chicken! So often when I buy a frozen dinner that shows a lot of meat on the photo there's only about two or three little chunks in the actual meal. This meal had lots of chunks of chicken that were big enough to know what they were, and small enough that you could have a bit of chicken in almost every bite.
There were also some vegetables in the mix, shredded so that they mixed well with the rice noodles.
Hawaii is expensive, and natural foods are also expensive. I purchased this dinner on sale for $5.99, but I think it's usually $7.49, which means it costs about as much as you might pay for a cheap dinner out.
- Natural, gluten free, halal, etc. etc.
- Good flavor with big chunks of chicken
- Easy to microwave, and still tastes good
- High in protein (21g) and vitamin A (40% RDA)
- 450 calories and 8 grams of fat is about what you'd expect for a meal like this
- Tiny shards of pasta necessitate a fork or spoon for eating
- Pretty expensive for a frozen dinner
- High in sodium (690mg, or about 30% of RDA)
- High in sugar (24g)
I was really not expecting much from this dinner after being disappointed by pad thai in the past. It was really delicious, full of chicken, and filling. The size of the noodles was kind of annoying, but if it were cheaper I would totally buy it again.
Ingredients: Cooked rice noodles (water, rice flour), sauce (evaporated cane juice, water, tomato paste (tomatoes, citric acid), peanut butter (roasted peanuts), organic tamari sauce (water, organic soybeans, salt), vinegar, vegetable base (dehydrated vegetables including onion, tomato, sweet corn, carrot, celery, pumpkin, carrot juice, bell pepper, green leek and garlic, sea salt, sugar, east extract, corn oil, spices ad extract of celery, onion and garlic), cornstarch, red pepper), chicken (chicken breast, water, expeller pressed canola oil, cornstarch, garlic), carrots, scallions, peanuts.
Contains: Peanuts, Soy