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Easy to prepare, suitable for microwave or stove. Made from natural ingredients, a healthy and fast meal.
"Instant" or "two-minute" noodles are one of those modern convenience foods that are often the staple diet of teenagers in their last years at secondary school or their first years in tertiary training - quick, filling, reasonably tasty and inexpensive. These noodles are one up on the student variety: they take longer to prepare (5-7 minutes), and the addition of oyster sauce and dried mushrooms adds flavour without that artificial salt/sweet taste of common instant noodles.
As noodles go, I thought they were among the nicest I had tasted, and I can see a wide range of uses for them. First of all, our kids all love noodles whether on their own or as the starch component of a meal. We tried them with prawns and spring onions stirred through (for the adults) and with some shredded meat instead of prawns for our fussy kids. Everyone said that they found the noodles quite sweet and very tender. I had followed the instructions on the packet and broken up the noodles before cooking them, and was glad that I did as one little corner that had been missed ended up stuck together and quite hard. Clearly it pays to read the packet!
I kept some noodles back and put them into one of my favourite dishes - omelette with spring onions, peas and chopped mushrooms. I usually put plain thread noodles into this dish, so I used the shiitake mushroom noodles instead. It made a very nice, filling meal which had a lot more flavour than the plain version. Although you could not see the mushroom pieces in the noodles themselves - they were too small - you could taste the difference when they were prepared this way.
The "best by" date was hard to read because it was printed in black on dark blue, but a combined effort by two people armed with a strong torch enabled us to work it out. It is a pity this was not more visible as that is something that is essential when you are buying dry goods; it is important to know the shelf life. In this case, the "best by" date turned out to be March 2019 - something which would influence me to buy it as I know it is not going to deteriorate overnight.
I will probably buy this product again as I know the children will eat and enjoy it, and the ingredients don't rely on lots of chemical additives to make them more attractive. It is marketed as being a healthy snack food, and this is exactly what it is.
Sometimes life just means that I'm in a rush and a good portion of that time, I forget to feed myself, so I liked the idea of what looked like it could be a fast and filling meal. Now, it's very important to point out that the image on the front is not what you get, though I didn't expect anything other than the shiitake mushrooms to be in this product. The packet has a handy tear open option, but the little bag of flavour inside ended its me needing to get a pair of scissors to open it. The front of the packaging lets you know all you need to add is water and throw it in the microwave for seven minutes.
The back of the packet is very hectic, there's two sets of ingredients listings (with a 0.5% discrepancy in mushroom quantity, which one is correct?), instructions for both microwave and frying pan cooking and it isn't helped by wording in two languages. It took me a moment to find the red line for measuring the water, but I measured it out, poured it into a microwave proof bowl and added the flavouring. It did take me a little while to mix it in completely, but once I added the vermicelli you could see it soaking in. The instructions say that if you want to add meat or veges then you get it out at five minutes but as I wasn't, I went for the full seven minutes.
Getting it out of the microwave, I wasn't impressed or eager to give it a try, it was one big lump of noodles. I had to try and give it a good mix for a little while to break it up a bit and to mix the mushrooms through, as they'd all sunk to the bottom. These pieces of mushroom are tiny and given that the packet states that 9.5-10% of this product is mushroom, I had the impression that there should be more. I found the food itself to be a mix of stringy, rubbery and chewy, even the little bits of mushroom. The flavour was ok but I did find that the pepper overpowered pretty much everything in this dish.
The appeal of a quick meal is a good one but this was a dish I couldn't finish, so this will not be on my to buy list.
I have an issue with these products that try to save time by having multiple languages on the packaging. Sure it might save a bit of money, but it really isn't appealing from an aesthetic standpoint. Trying to find the English instructions is a chore (even trying to find the name of the product took time, and it made me feel like the product wasn't really designed with me in mind. Such directions like "stretch the packet and place it on the table before filling with water" come across as a little confusing with its choice of wording.
But I went ahead and tried anyway. The directions state that you microwave for 7 minutes. That seemed like a very long time to me (considering you can heat the thicker noodles in 2 minutes), but I tried it for 7 minutes to see what would happen. Perhaps the most important thing within the instruction is that is species an 800W microwave. I don't know if people really know what wattage their microwaves are, but a quick scan of the Noel Leeming website shows that the majority of microwaves sold are 1000 to 1100W. So really if I was writing the instructions for this packet I'd err on the side of caution and give a time for a higher wattage microwave. You can always heat it for longer if it is undercooked, but you can't uncook something once you have overdone it.
As you may have guessed, my microwave is probably much stronger than 800W, and I let it run for the full 7 minutes. The product I had ended up dry, and overcooked. When I was mixing the water and "seasoning" as per the instructions I noted that the mushrooms were just tiny little pieces; nothing like the large pieces and entire mushrooms that were present in the picture on the front of the packet. Whether it needed more water, less time in the microwave, or both, there was no way this product was going to live up to the expectations set by the imagery on the packet.
It is unfortunate. I ended up with a ball of twine, and as I tried to eat it, I couldn't help but note how some parts at the bottom were saturated with flavour, while the top didn't absorb any of the water at all and was still uncooked. The entire thing remained in one piece, which proved difficult to eat.
Perhaps someone will have better luck by stirfrying the product as you can easier gauge how well the product is cooking throughout the process and ensure everything is properly mixed. But the microwave instructions were a fail for me, and the end product didn't feel worth the effort to try get it right.
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Joan Didion (1934 - ), 'Slouching Towards Bethlehem'