02579: Rocky's Quorn Guide (2018 Q1)

So I've been on the Quorn train for some time now. What started as a little product research for work (as we support the brand in Singapore) has become a rather genuine shift to reducing meat consumption. I'm not going full vegan/vegetarian, but I do recognize the health benefits of reducing meat coupled with many documentaries reminding us that cattle farming remains to be one of the biggest sources of carbon emissions on the planet more than industrialization or continued use of combustion engines for vehicles.

So I thought it might be a useful (and fun) exercise to go over all the Quorn products I've tried thus far. So let's start with the core line more widely available in the Philippines, albeit in smaller bags.

Things to Remember - Most Quorn items provide instructions for up to two cooking methods, varying between stove top/frying, oven, grilling, and microwave. I tend to default to baking via the GoChef for more of their ready-to-eat stuff. In general add a bit more oil when you cook - I favor olive oil - as the bigger patties / pieces can feel a bit dry. Most Quorn items tend to be light on flavor so they work better if you prepare accompany sauces or dips as appropriate. I've tested cooking a lot of their ready-to-eat stuff with an air fryer as well and I think the results there feel a lot better texture-wise than my all-in-one cooker baking.

Quorn Meat-Free Nuggets (Rating 5/5) - This is the easiest entry-point for most folks curious about Quorn. But it's also one of their strongest products and should go the furthest in terms of convincing anyone that Quorn's ability to simulate meat fiber and texture is way more superior than any other soy- or gluten-based meat substitute. This has been enough to get us to promise to avoid ordering McDonald's McNuggets for as long as Quorn remains available. The only real barrier is figuring out what sauce to match with it as ketchup alone doesn't feel like enough. I prefer to fry or bake it versus the included instructions for microwave cooking.

Quorn Meat-Free Chunks (Rating 4/5) - Many may have encountered this item whether you realize it or not because it's the one most-used by Shakey's as part of their partnership with the brand. The chunks roughly approximate chicken and have the sort of taste of white meat. It's a little spongier than meat ought to be but it works great in recipes that call for smaller chicken pieces like Chicken Ala King or something. Very light on seasoning on its own, but it that makes it more useful when added to soups or with flavorful sauces. I've even used it in tinola  and several white sauc pasta dishes.

Quorn Meat-Free Grounds (Rating 5/5) - For someone who enjoys cooking, this is one of the most useful and versatile Quorn products and can be used in any recipe that calls for ground pork or ground meat save for very big patties (mainly because I haven't tried). I've mixed it into fried rice dishes and I've done more "traditional" local dishes like with potatoes in a tomato sauce or with sayote. It's naturally great for pasta and related dishes. One of the most surprising things is how it cooks so quickly from frozen - no more time wasted waiting for it to thaw! The same principe applies to the chunks actually.

Then there are the products that you can't find on the official Quorn Philippines website but have started to make appearances at Rustan's Marketplace, probably as a parallel import of sorts.

Quorn Southern Fried Burgers (Rating 3/5) - Despite the grounds/mince product, for these burgers think more turkey burgers instead of beef burgers. The patty is bit too breaded for my tastes and the flavoring doesn't really make me think of the American South. They don't taste bad but they're just not what I look for in a burger experience. At least can work from a convenience cooking department. Be sure to add oil whether you fry them or bake them as they can feel rather dry.

Quorn Garlic & Mushroom Escalopes (Rating 4/5) - I didn't really know what escalopes were before this dish but I do appreciate it now. Think of a nicely flavored breaded chicken fillet, a long the lines of cordon bleu  but witout the cheese. Baking this in the GoChef with olive oil can result in a nice smokey flavor which I really like. I keep a pack on-hand for emergency cooking when I'm tired from work but want to avoid ordering out for dinner. It could benefit from some sort of a gravy if you take the time to make some.

Quorn Sausage Patties (Rating 5/5) - While the burgers felt too heavy on the breading, this product is a lot more delighful and feels like a breakfast patty. This, in my mind, is sort of like the patties you get with a McDonald's McMuffin but again a bit dryer so be sure to add olive oil when cooking. They're smaller than the burgers and I suspect that speaks of the stability of the grounds-like material when it comes to forming structures like patties.

Quorn Swedish Style Balls (Rating 5/5) - Despite the fact that they're shaped like cylinders and not balls, this is another favorite product. They're not quite the full IKEA Swedish meatball experience, but they are fairly close. Thus far I tend to prepare a cream sauce for them and it goes quite nicely but I'm also excited to use them as possible meatballs in a pasta or something. The pieces are quite dense and that can make it feel a bit spongey at times but on the whole they still taste good. Quite the solid addition to the Quorn family.

Now my regular trips to Singapore have given me the chance to try other Quorn products that I have yet to regularly find here. I look forward to when (?) more of these items make it over here.

Quorn Hot & Spicy Burgers (Rating 4/5) - One of the few fully vegan Quorn products, the burgers got me worried since I didn't quite like the Southern Frieds ones that much and I was intimidated by the spicy label. But think more European spicy than Asian spicy so it really just felt more flavorful than hot. This was a somewhat better burger experience but still on the chicken/turkey patty side of the world.

Quorn Sausages (Rating 3/5) - I had higher hope for the sausages since I already liked their sausage patties, but something about this didn't quite feel right. They're still generally good and quite tasty but they don't quite cross that line to make me want to stock them regularly versus the nuggets. I guess the full sausage experience needs to feel a bit more greasy and this feels somehow sanitized to a significant degree. If you really need a sausage-type experience in your eating, this is as good as it gets.

Quorn Cottage Pie (Rating 3/5) - Found this item in Singapore even though it's not listed on the official website. It's a legitimate enough cottage pie but it does have a bit of weird texture for the potato layer, probably related to how it is prepared to last in store freezers. It's okay, but part of me prefers to try and make my own potato mash and just use the grounds/mince to create the sauce independently.

Quorn Hot Dogs (Rating 2/5) - They're not like Filipino hotdogs so they're less sweet and more briny/spicy along the lines of canned Vienna sausage. It has the same texture and that feeling of being very dense. It's not clear but they individual hotdogs are actually wrapped in plastic like conventional hotdogs so be sure to remove that coating before cooking / eating. This is in the category of being just okay but I don't miss hotdogs specifically enough to need a meat-free substitute as part of our meals.

Quorn Chicken & Leek Pies (Rating 3/5) - I don't typically look for savory pies and this was at least more of a decent meal experience than the cottage pies. Depending on how you bake this and oil it accordingly, the crust can feel quite dry and will rely heavily on the chicken filling to make it more edible. The seasoning for the filling is very light and relies on the same chunks that are sold indepdentlly.

Quorn Fishless Fingers (Rating 5/5) - Okay this is another one of those Quorn products that really makes you ask "How do they do this?" It nicely recreates the texture of fish fillet fingers down to the flakiness when you bite. The breading seasoned and I could do with a little less of it, but it's not a deal-breaker. The overall flavor is great and it works on their own or in sauces that you can try coming up with. Plus it's another of their fully vegan items!

So that's all the Quorn I've had the chance to try so far. I know there are more products available in Singapore through places like Redmart and I'll be sure to experiment with more of the range as I find them. I haven't done any local Quorn shopping yet this year since I had stocked up a bit from Singapore so I'll need to reconfirm which items are available. I may try another update next quarter or even sooner.