This Navratri, make sure to check out these moreish ‘chicken’ bites.
By Aiden Jewelle Gonzales
I won’t lie, while I enjoy the occasional plant-based meal, I’m an omnivore through and through. I like my seafood and meats, and those who know me best can attest that I order gai tod as a mid-afternoon snack far too often. However, in the interests of pursuing a more healthy lifestyle as I enter my 30s, I’ve been on the lookout for plant-based alternatives to my favourite nibbles, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much First Pride by Tyson Foods delivered.
Founded in 1935 in Arkansas, Tyson Foods started as a purveyor of high-quality, farm- grown chicken, delivered to peoples’ doorsteps. Having expanded around the world, including Thailand, they’ve continued to evolve with the times and now offer a range of ‘chicken’ bites under their First Pride label, that are 100 percent vegetarian, and made from wheat and soy. Though I was sceptical of whether they could capture the texture and flavour of a good gai tod, I never soy never, so we’ve sampled their products just in time for Navratri so you don’t have to break your fast while you snack.
Easy to prepare, the products can either be deep fried for 1.5-2.5 minutes or air-fried at 200°C for 6-7 minutes (or at a pinch, stuck in an oven for the same length of time). I tried both, and while the latter is the healthier alternative, I must admit that deep frying gives it that extra crunch that I’m looking for.
First Pride Plant-Based Crispy Nuggets (170g, THB 99)
At first glance, these looked exactly like the classic chicken nuggets, harkening back to countless childhood fast food runs. When fried, the outer skin acquires a crunch that’s extremely satisfying to bite through, and the soy mimicked the white meat very well, with a texture that wassurprisingly tender and flaky. Less heavy than its meat alternative, I had eaten three before I knew it, and I’m sure that it would go remarkably well with your dipping sauce of choice.
First Pride Plant-Based Popcorn Bites (170g, THB 99)
Fast-food Chicken Pop is one of my guilty pleasures (and one that I often treat like popcorn in the amounts that I indulge in), so I was especially excited to try this guilt-free product. What struck me during the first mouthful was the surprising hint of sweetness, no doubt from the sweet corn of their three-step coating process, with added real popcorn flakes. With zero percent cholesterol, I’m convinced that I’ve found my new movie-snack alternative.
First Pride Plant-Based Larb Bites (170g, THB 99)
My runaway favourite of the three, this one packs a lot of flavour and spice in a single bite. Crispy and remarkably moreish, each bite has an outer coating of larb flavour that hits you with the quintessential Thai spices that we know and love. High in protein and fibre, I’m glad that I didn’t have to feel guilty eating this treat because I wolfed down half the pack in one sitting. This protein can also be incorporated into a variety of dishes to elevate them, as it already holds a lot of flavour by itself.
Looking for plant-based alternatives to your favourite Thai dishes? Try making a Thai yum salad with their popcorn bites, and we guarantee that you won’t be able to tell the difference.
First Pride by Tyson Foods products are available at:
Lotus’s, Lotus’ Express, Lotus’s go fresh, Big C, Central Food Hall, Tops, Gourmet Market, Home Fresh Mart, Villa, Foodland, Max Valu and Rimping
Happy Fresh: https://bit.ly/3kFmGFa