A few weeks ago I featured these meals in my Gluten Free Finds. The New Chinese Garden Meals have been popping up on my Facebook newsfeed for ages now. Finally, I headed up to one of their stockists; Foodworks Bacchus Marsh to try them for myself. Containing eight products in the range, the Australian made meal kits are quick, simple and easy to make. They feature Asian styled classic dishes such as:
- Fried Rice
- Chilli Chicken
- Satay Chicken
- Mongolian Beef
- Beef in Black Bean
- Sweet and Sour Pork
- Honey Chicken
- Lemon Chicken
Unfortunately, the store I went to only had five of the eight dishes so those are the ones I have been able to review. To prepare the meals you must let them defrost for either 24 hours or soak them in water for 10 to 15 minutes. There are instructions on the back of each pack which are extremely easy to follow. We all know how challenging it can be to get good Asian meals that we don’t have to slave over. New Chinese Garden has definitely filled that hole for Coeliacs’ and Gluten Intolerant people alike.
Like all the meals in this range, the Mongolian Beef was simple to make. It had a good strong flavour thanks to the soy sauce and molasses with delicious beef strips. Everything cooked perfectly in the recommended fifteen minutes. Both Brody and I thoroughly enjoyed the dish and would have it again. To make it stretch to two serves, I added in some konjac noodles and extra vegetables while stir frying.
Not only does this make a delicious dinner, it could also easily be whipped up at your work if there is a kitchen handy. The meal itself sits just under 500 calories for the serve if you are counting calories. For anyone with allergies, it does contain, Soybean, chilli powder, yeast extract and cornflour as some of the ingredients.
Sweet and Sour Pork
This was my first look at their bake and eat range. Unlike the Mongolian Beef, the sweet and sour pork needs to be baked in the oven. The sauce is then prepared in a pan on the stove and the two come together when serving. For the sweet and sour pork, I served it with some steamed rice to make it serve two instead of one. This meal is much higher at 1,164 calories for the 400g serve. Thankfully since Brody and I only had half each it wasn’t too bad.
The sauce was extremely sweet for my tastes. The pork was well cooked and had a lovely crunch to it. I’d definitely add the extra veggies if you are sharing it. I just really wish it wasn’t so sweet. For those with allergies, it contains Rice, Tapioca and Corn flour. Yeast Extract, Tomato, citric acid, ginger and onion also are included in the ingredients. For a homemade version of this classic, check out my Sweet and Sour Pork. This one will still be my go to, however, it is good to know there is something to use if I’m short on time.
The cheapest of the meals and probably the one that stretched the furthest is the Fried Rice. Cooking in around 5 minutes, it was really simple. Fry the bacon, add the rice and then top with shallots. Personally, I added in an egg – because what is fried rice without an egg? – and some peas, carrot and corn. I fried everything in sesame oil for that takeaway rice flavour and then added gluten free soy sauce.
This could easily do four side serves but filled me and Brody with a few little spicy chicken nibbles. While I thought it definitely needed a bit more flavour in the mix, it was a great base to add to. If you are short on time then this is definitely the way to go.
This was another absolutely delicious meal. The sauce was a little gritty from the crushed peanuts but it was packed full of flavour. It was simple to prepare, just a quick fry in a well-oiled wok. There were plenty of vegetables that cooked through well and definitely lots of chicken. The serving size is a good portion.
For anyone with allergies, the satay chicken contains yeast extract, cornflour, crustacean and of course peanuts. It is healthier than the Sweet and Sour pork at 580 calories per serve, however as we did with the others Brody and I halved the meal. We added no extra vegetables to this mix but did serve it with steamed rice. I would happily purchase this meal again for when I am short on time. However, if you are looking for a recipe where you can control what is in it, check out my Simple Chicken Satay Recipe.
Similar to the Sweet and Sour Pork this was another bake and eat option. You bake the chicken nuggets and then heat the honey sauce in a pot on the stove and finally combine them to serve. The chicken coating again was reminiscent of the crispy coating on the pork meal. Brody thinks we should deep fry them next time for extra crisp. I will admit once you add the sauce they do go a little soggy.
After the sweet encounter with the Sweet and Sour Pork, I was concerned the Honey Chicken would be similar. While the sauce was definitely sweet, it wasn’t as sickly sweet as the pork. I could probably have watered it down a little and added in more sesame seeds but it was edible. I have no idea if it is this sweet in take away stores but if so then it is a perfect rendition. We didn’t add any extra vegetables to this meal but you could certainly do that. I served it with steamed rice which was a good choice as it absorbed the honey sauce.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t locate the Beef in Black Bean, Chilli Chicken or Lemon Chicken. Thankfully the team behind The New Chinese Garden reached out and sent me these to review.
Beef in Black Bean
This was the meal that Brody enjoyed the most, like the other stir fry meals in this range it is easy to prepare. The sauce had a deep black bean flavour and coated everything well. I found there was no need to add extra vegetables to this kit but we did add in some additional rice to serve. It was a really good portion size. As I was eating I was thinking, this is my favourite so far.
For anyone with further allergies, the Beef in Black Bean contains, yeast extract and cornflour as well as onion and gluten free soy sauce. I honestly thought the Beef in Black bean would win my top pick however it was bumped down to second place by the next variety.
Chilli Chicken would probably be my favourite dish, back when I was a teenager and too scared to ask questions I’d take risks with this all the time. Stupid behaviour that no one should undertake. I learned my lesson the hard way. In saying that this meal was the one I was looking forward to the most. It didn’t disappoint me either. It was full of heavy garlic flavour with a delicious sticky sauce and chicken pieces. There were lots of vegetables and to be honest I am sad it is gone. This one I had a single serve all by myself. I didn’t add any rice and was content after eating the portion.
For those with additional allergies, the Chilli Chicken meal contains, corn flour, yeast extract, onion and garlic. This one surpassed the beef in black bean meal just to become my stand out for the meal kits.
Last but not least was the Lemon Chicken meal. This one like the sweet and sour pork and the honey chicken is a bake and eat meal. The chicken is coated well and had a lovely crunchy flavour when baked. Instead of nuggets of chicken, this meal kit included fillets, which is more traditional of Lemon Chicken. Again I was a bit concerned about the sweetness level in the dish due to the previous two meals. I found this sauce was a relief after the sweeter honey and sweet and sour meals. It was sticky and wonderful on top of the crispy chicken fillets. Again I’d quickly pan fry them for an extra crispy coating.
If you do have other allergies, the Lemon Chicken contains yeast extract, rice flour, corn flour and turmeric. If you can’t have or find this meal kit and desperately want some, I do just so happen to have a Lemon Chicken recipe that you could try.
That’s the range of New Chinese Garden Heat and Eat Meals. Each of the meals with protein cost me $10.59 while the Fried Rice was $6.49. They are on the pricey side of meals however they are something I think is worth having in the freezer for a treat. For a full list of stockists, head to their website. I hope that this review gives you a bit of insight into whether or not you want to try them.
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Until Next Time;
Ashlee; The Aussie Coeliac.
Note: Some of these products were sent to me for review. This does not alter my opinion on the products. A variety of these products were purchased with my own money.