Friday, October 29, 2010

S & B Chicken Keema Curry

I grew up poor. I'm not talking about the kind of poor where you couldn't have an iPod and got some cheap knock-off MP3 player at Wal-Mart instead. I'm talking about the kind of poor where you were hunting down bottles that could be returned for a deposit at the end of the month so that you could buy milk. Given that situation, I was very familiar with the type of crappy cheap food that poor parents buy to just have something on the table like store brand macaroni and cheese which could be had for 5 boxes for a dollar on sale. Of course, I'm 46 and I'm guessing that you can't get even crappy mac and cheese for that price anymore.

I mention this not to elicit sympathy for my youthful poverty, but to talk about cheap, crappy food that people buy because it fills the space. One can guess that this S & B Keema Curry falls into that category. Most of the better quality prepared curry prepared food sold in foil bags at market costs between 250-400 yen ($3.03-$4.86). This costs 100 yen ($1.21). I found it at Lawson 100, but you can also find it at Seiyu supermarket for a "discount price" of 98 yen.

S&B is famous in Japan for it's spices and I have a few jars of its product in my refrigerator. I choose their spices mainly because they're in small bottles and cheaper than imported varieties. Most of what they offer is relatively mundane stuff. You wouldn't find something as "exotic" as cardamom in their packaging, for instance, but they're good for work-a-day options like parsley or turmeric.

I chose this keema chicken curry from the plethora of other cheap curry options at the 100 yen shop mainly because when I squeezed the package, it was lumpier than the rest. I figured that this meant there was more "meat" in it. Okay, the truth is that I assumed it had more TVP (textured vegetable protein), but the point was that it had what felt like more substance than the others and the calorie count wasn't too bad at 145 calories. It also has 11.8 grams of protein which isn't too shabby for a 100 yen foil pack of junky food. The main drawback is that it has 2.5 grams of salt when the daily amount recommended for an adult is 3.8 grams of salt.

Given that latter bit of information, I expected it to be salty, and boy howdy, were my expectations fulfilled. This is a mildly hot curry and could use more kick, but has a nice savory undertone and more depth of flavor than many of these cheap preparations. You can't really taste the chicken as an individual ingredient, but you can get a real sense of it in the texture. In terms of the spices, you can really taste the ginger and something which seems like celery salt in flavor (but is not).

I don't have this often, but I do like to have it occasionally when I have a few ounces of leftover chicken and a bit of rice on hand. Adding 2 oz. of bland chicken breast helps cut the saltiness back a bit and the flavors are sufficiently intense that adding unseasoned chicken to it doesn't dilute the intensity to an unacceptable level. I wouldn't recommend this as an "every day" or even a once a week sort of thing because of the high salt content, but as a bit of cheap comforting junk food on occasion, it's pretty good.


Serena said...

For some reason I thought that this would get a bad score...It doesn't look half bad though but there's tons of salt in that stuff!

Now you can get 5 boxes of Kraft mac n cheese for 5 dollars. We get them all the time.

Orchid64 said...

For me, this sort of junky food has to be graded according to a different set of criteria. The worst thing is that the stuff may taste like nothing, or just like salt and weirdness. This had some good flavors, though certainly not authentic Indian ones. For 99 yen, it deserved its rating.

I've had it 4 or 5 times since first discovering it (about once a month), so any other rating would be hypocritical. ;-)

Thanks for your comment!

Indie.Tea said...

Adding extra chicken to balance the saltiness sounds like a good idea...
I find that if I ever eat anything out of a package, it can always been improved with some flavoring - some chili flakes and a bit of garlic might help add a little punch to this.

Audrey (hkittygirl) said...

That looks so tasty! I want to try it, but it's a shame that curry makes me feel rather ill....