Exclusive to Tesco, The City Kitchen has released six new ready meals, produced by Kerry Foods.
These include chicken miso ramen, sweet and sour passion fruit chicken, Brazilian coconut chicken, vegetable gyoza and shiitake broth, Thai chilli sticky pork and a vegetarian paneer butter masala.
The City Kitchen’s culinary development chef, Lucy Verity, tells Food Spark it’s important to appeal to consumers who are open to trying dishes from around the world, which is why the brand is introducing tastes from Korea and Brazil for the first time.
“Consumers are always looking for something new. In the UK, thanks to our multicultural and diverse society and our fondness for travel, consumers are more open than ever before to new flavours and international cuisine,” she says.
All of the brand’s meals are inspired by upcoming food trends, she adds.
Gut health and fresh vegetables
Authenticity is crucial when developing meals, according to The City Kitchen.
It uses ingredients from traditional recipes, including udon noodles in the chicken miso ramen, arroz verde (green rice) in the Brazilian coconut chicken and toban jhan (chilli bean) paste and fermented soy beans in the Thai chilli sticky pork.
“As consumers have become more conscious about gut health, we decided to include fermented soy beans in our Thai chilli sticky pork, as they are known for their health benefits. We also noticed a growing interest in fermented vegetables in general, which we believe is because these foods introduce good bacteria into your gut,” says Verity.
Inspired by the street food of Camden Market, the Thai chilli sticky pork is a lunchbox meal that combines Thai and Korean recipes for the distinct aromas and flavours that build heat. Tamarind and fish sauce add seasoning without needing salt, and the dish is topped with crispy onions and cashew nuts as a hand-finished touch.
Meanwhile, the chicken ramen bowl is based on a traditional Japanese recipe of Hokkaido miso broth featuring udon noodles and choi sum to add a twist. The chicken is flame seared, creating a smokiness and savoury element to the meal. The vegetables aren’t pre-cooked, meaning that their first spin in the microwave will ensure the vegetable’s nutritional values and crisp texture are retained.
“We knew from the beginning that we would need to include fresh vegetables in our new chicken miso ramen meal, as it is an authentic part of the dish and improves its flavor,” says Verity. “With UK consumers more health conscious than ever, having great-tasting vegetables which could be enjoyed while retaining as much of their nutritional value as possible was another reason they were such a critical aspect of the dish.”
Heading over to Korea, The City Kitchen has taken inspiration from a traditional sweet and sour recipe, which uses ingredients such as rice vinegar and sesame oil. Fried chicken mops up the tangy sauce with the addition of passion fruit for a touch of sweetness, alongside colourful chunks of charred pineapple and red peppers.
Rounding out the Asian influences is the gyoza. With thin pastry and a mixed vegetable filling, this dumpling is matched with a punchy umami shiitake broth, while the chilli, fennel and shiitake combine to create a traditional Japanese savour.
Carnival colours and the tandoor oven
Heading further afield to South America, the Brazilian coconut chicken is based on a traditional xinxim curry of nut paste, coconut milk, chilli and tomato, which is a staple in the country.
Paired with arroz verde, this dish screams all the colours of Carnival. Aromatic herbs such as coriander keep the rice tasting fresh and the colourful flame-seared chunks of butternut squash replicate the barbacoa (or barbecue) element of Brazilian cooking.
For its vegetarian offering, the brand borrows from India. Fried paneer cheese is paired with tandoor-style roasted and seared red peppers and onions. The rice pops with fresh chopped spinach and lentils, bring the round-the-world adventure to a close.