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Review: Trader Joe’s Hake En Papillote Frozen Entree

Posted Dec 27 2012 6:06am
hake [As a reminder - I don't do paid reviews for products . If I ever did, I'd let you know...]

Before we left on vacation, my wife stocked up on some frozen stuff from Trader Joe’s so that we wouldn’t come home on Christmas day to an empty fridge. On a whim, she bought this ‘Hake En Papillote’. I had no idea what the hell this was and had no plans to go near it – one of my rules of eating is: don’t eat it if a picture of the item with the words ‘serving suggestion’ appear on the box. To me, this is short-hand for ‘I contain crap’.

My wife had put in one box for me, however, and I was the guy who took them out of the oven. They were still in their boxes in the oven – which I didn’t get at first. Curious, I read the label:

“En Papillote” which translates as “in parchment,” is a microwave and oven friendly package for steaming foods but can sometimes be unwieldy to open once cooked. Trader Joe’s Hake en Papillote is presented in a slick little parchment origami box which steams the fish and vegetables and is easy to open: just remove the paper lid. Hake is a mild white fish with a solid texture which we’ve combined with grilled zucchini, cherry tomatoes and pesto sauce for a super easy and flavorful entrée.

Hmmm…interesting. Not your usual ‘nuke in plastic tray’ stuff here. I figured that they had to screw it up some other way so I checked the ingredients:

grilled zucchini(zucchini, sunflower oil), hake, cherry tomatoes, basil sauce (sunflower oil, basil, cheese [cultured cows milk], salt, lemon juice concentrate, garlic), extra virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley, basil, parmesan cheese [cows milk, salt, rennet], pine nuts, pea extract (pea fiber, pea starch, pea protein), salt, and spices(black, white, green, and pink peppercorns, and chili powder).

OK…I try to avoid seed oils as much as I can, so I’m not particularly thrilled about the sunflower oil, but a little won’t kill you. The ‘pea extract’ is a new one on me – I wonder what it’s supposed to do in the dish? Other than those qualms, it seemed like something I might eat.

The last check was the carbs. Net carbs for one serving: 6 grams. That is pretty darn good considering that with no added sugar they must be coming mostly from the vegetables.

So I tried the darn thing.

My verdict: pretty darn good for a $3.99 frozen entrée. I could picture someone at a restaurant buying these, plating them on fine dinnerware and charging you $20.

This is not a ‘supersized’ meal – it totals 8.1 ounces, but the fish was not rubbery but flaky, the vegetables tasty, with the ingredients packed separately and actually looking somewhat like the picture on the box – perhaps a first – and looked attractive as it came out of the oven, and the paper box actually did what it was supposed to do – steamed the ingredients – and did so without some plastic leaching God-knows-what into the food.

We went to Trader Joe’s again and I grabbed a few more – I definitely think I’ll be having this again.

I’d say this is Atkins-friendly and induction friendly to boot.

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