Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Salads

The other day I happened to catch an episode of "semi-homemade" on the food channel. In this episode, Sandra Lee created a cashew chicken salad using deli coleslaw, cooked chicken strips, mandarin oranges, and cashews (a bit of olive oil optional). I thought this might be a good candidate for veganizing. So here's how I went about trying that:

First I made a vegan coleslaw because I couldn't find one at my local deli. I made the one I described in this post. Easy to make, tasty. Can keep in fridge a day or so.

Second, I took a package of Veat vegetarian chicken breast from the freezer. It looks like this:

When I took it out of the package it looked like this:

I didn't really want to eat that. Doesn't look so good. But I thought maybe I could make it more appetizing by cooking it in a teriyaki sauce. For this purpose, I chose Trader Joe's Soyaki sauce. I cut the baby out of its little plastic package and cooked it on the stove in a small frying pan, turning it now and then to get it warm and covered with the sauce. When I could put a fork in it I took it out and sliced it. It looked like this:

So that did help. At least aesthetically. I cut these slices into two pieces, bite-sized. Then I was ready to put it all together. Coleslaw, chicken, mandarin oranges, cashews. Here's what it looked like:

It looks okay, huh? Well, it was okay but it was far from great. In fact, I'd say maybe not ready for prime time. But it wasn't as bad as some of the reviewers of the original dish said. Comments on the original chicken salad, using a mayo coleslaw and real chicken, included these gems:

I thought this would make a quick and easy lunch but my husband just stared at me. I tried a couple of bites and threw the rest out. Nothing could save this dish.

terrible. I used a good cole slaw (Rudolph's) and it still turned out to be pretty disgusting. My husband absolutely hated the mandarin oranges in it.


I served this for lunch and my husband just laughed at me. He wouldn't even try it. I ate a bit but I have to admit it was a bad idea. The mayonnaise in the slaw just serves to slime everything else up and the taste isn't that great.

To be fair, not all of the comments were bad. But these are representative of those that were, and they seem to have some elements in common: husbands, for example.

I'm not recommending the vegan version as I made it. I wonder if one made with a vegan mayo might be better. Or another type of faux chicken. I'm open to suggestion!


Anonymous said...

That is truly frightening. Why on earth would they shape it like a real chicken? It's saddening to see what looks like a dead animal.

Judith said...

I agree, romina. It shows some misunderstanding of a large part of their customer base.