Tuesday, March 31, 2015

TRAIL MEAL: Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki

This is not my first time sampling the Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki meal. It's one I've had before and enjoyed. Truth be told, I haven't encountered a Mountain House meal that wasn't acceptable. Their Macaroni and Cheese is a little uninspired, and I haven't heard great things about their egg-based breakfast (But I'm really not an egg fan myself, so this is no great loss to me), but every entree I've consumed has ranged from acceptable to excellent. Initially, in a post to Google+ almost a year ago, I rated the Chicken Teriyaki in the "Acceptable" category, along with their Beef Stew. I felt that compared to other chicken teriyaki I'd had, their offering was a bit bland. But I felt that the addition of a little extra sauce would fix that right up.

So, Today, I added a bit of inexpensive teriyaki sauce/marinade. I just used a bottle of the store-brand 'essential everyday' teriyaki that has the same consistency as soy sauce. The ideal form to carry on a backpacking trip with you would be packets like these. But I've yet to find a commercial source for them (and by that I mean I really haven't gone looking in any significant capacity). Alternately, I could see using a small bottle such as this to contain a small quantity of teriyaki sauce. 

Like most Mountain House entrees, it required heating up 16 ounces of water, and waiting 10 minutes  after adding the water. Bob wanted to see the BioLite in action, and in particular, to see if I could start the biolite with dryer lint. As with every time I've used the stove, it took more time to harvest and break the wood than it did to boil the water. I did have to re-fuel it once, mid-boil and it was a little reluctant to start, but that dryer lint works really well at jump-starting the biolite if it smoke-stalls. Once I had the water boiled, I dumped it in the bag, sealed it and mushed the bag around a bit to distribute the water everywhere. I also like to fold the top of the bag over a couple of times, shake it around to mix it up good, and invert the bag upside down. Makes sure the water gets everywhere in there.

After I'd finished waiting 10 minutes for the food to rehydrate, I opened it up and added the extra teriyaki. just a few shakes of the bottle seemed to be enough, then I stirred it in and taste-tested it. Even the cheap store brand teriyaki sauce put a lot of life into the meal. It meshed well with the very mild teriyaki flavor already included. I imagine that if I used the thicker more flavorful teriyaki that I usually cook with, it would have turned out even better. (usually the KC Masterpiece Honey Teriyaki Marinade is what I use. Even though it says marinade, I tend to just use it out of the bottle as a grill sauce, or in a frying pan with my meat). Either way, the additional sauce made for a MUCH more flavorful meal. I recommend you give the meal a shot without additional sauce, try a couple bites and if it seems weak to you, like it did to me, add a bit of the extra sauce, stir it in. I did not regret it.

Bottom line? Yes, I would recommend it. at $7-9 per meal (depending on place of purchase) it's more costly than yesterday's rice side and salmon, but it cooks up faster and requires less fuel to produce. If you're looking for the simplest dinner you can make on the trail, something like this is pretty ideal. With the addition of a little extra flavor, the Mountain House Chicken Teriyaki meal makes it into the "Excellent" category. You can buy this on REI or Amazon.com, or find it at your local suppliers.

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