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Taste test: frozen chicken fried rice

Serving size 12 ounces 10 ounces 6 ounces
Calories 260 310 270
Fat/Fiber 4.5g / 2g 6g / 2g 4g / 2g
Sugars/Sodium 8g / 1080mg 11g / 800mg 5g / 830mg
Carbs/Protein 39g / 17g 47g / 20g 47g / 10g


While ordering Chinese takeout food is a treat in our family, sometimes we are too hungry to wait for the delivery. We wondered if the frozen options showing up in local grocery stores would work as a satisfying alternative. Our panelists tried four brands of frozen chicken fried rice and found three of the brands worthy of consideration. We prepared all four dishes in the microwave, although each manufacturer gave the option of adding a bit of oil and stir-frying the meals. If I were to serve any of the options for my own family, I likely would add some frozen egg rolls to the dinner and, maybe, some store-bought fortune cookies.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
Hannaford 73Chung's 57InnovAsian 55
Judges'

comments
"This looks like it came out of the neighborhood Chinese restaurant," said one judge of Sweetbay's store brand. "It's the best of the bunch with giant chunks of chicken and a nice mix of flavors." Another said he liked the "nice char" on the chicken pieces and the big selection of veggies, including sweet snap peas. He said he would "crisp up" the rice on the stove top a bit before serving the dish at home. "This definitely tastes like you made it from scratch," said another.This brand had plenty of color and texture. Judges loved the bits of corn, peas and carrots in the mixture. The final dish was especially moist. "It's really soft and reminds me of a risotto," said one panelist. "I really like the nice, big chunks of chicken." One panelist said the flavor was a tad too salty and another detected a sweet flavor she couldn't identify. "I would prefer more soy flavor," said another. All four judges said the dish would be a great start to a home-cooked Chinese dinner.Panelists raved about the colorful appearance of this dish. They liked the pieces of red bell pepper, fluffy scrambled eggs and cubed carrots. "This has an authentic, great look," said one judge. "The chicken has a decent Asian flavor with a light soy taste that is not too heavy." One described the taste as "wholesome," saying he might add soy, scallions and ginger or garlic to spruce it up a bit.
Would

they buy?
All four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$4.99 for a 24-ounce bag from Sweetbay.$4.59 for a 20-ounce container from Publix.$4.37 for an 18-ounce box from Walmart.


Also Sampled: Tai Pei ($2.79 for a 14.2-ounce container from Publix, 29 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute in St. Petersburg; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to jkeeler@sptimes.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to food.tampabay.com.

Taste test: frozen chicken fried rice 09/06/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 5:30am]

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