Simon Rimmer is one of those unique people with a double talent. Firstly he has a talent for being a celebrity chef nobody has heard of, secondly he has a talent for being a shit TV presenter. You can tell he is a long shot to endorse products as the packet has to explain who he is “Chef and TV presenter Simon is the author of 4 cookbooks including The Accidental Vegetarian and is Chef/Patron of 2 award winning restaurants, Greens and Earle”. Compare that mouthful to the branding Heston gets at Waitrose, which is a stocky font with “Heston” written in the corner and you get the picture. As far as I can tell, poor Simon hasn’t persuaded a supermarket to stock his products, so he has to make do with Holland and Barrett, but if you’re going to make vegetarian packet mix, what do you expect?
Forgive me if I dwell a little longer on the packet quote and mention Simon’s “2 award winning restaurants”. I have done a quick google and I cannot find any awards either restaurant has received. I’m not saying that they are lying, but I suspect that the award maybe something like “Best vegetarian restuarant called Greens in Didsbury”. As I say my google was brief and there could be a catalogue of prestigious awards lurking – if so I hold my hands up.
Anyway onto the product itself… the packaging is very white, very bright and very Holland and Barrett. It looks like a health food product with 4 boxes on the front telling us it has “284 calories per serving”, it is “vegetarian society approved”, it has “no artificial colours or preservatives” and that you can “cook in 8 minutes”. The information continues on the back of the packet, but I won’t bore you with that.
The first stage is pouring the powder into a bowl and mixing well with boiling water. I was put right off at this stage, the smell when I mixed it was like a dog had farted into a pot noodle, it did not make me want to eat it.
Next I had to leave it to cool for 5-10 mins before rolling into patties. Then shallow fry for 5-8 minutes until golden on both sides and thoroughly cooked. It sounds very simple but it was surprisingly hard to get right.
As the instructions didn’t specify I cooked them on a medium heat and let them fry for a few mins. When I flipped them over they were beyond golden, sitting somewhere between dark brown and burnt. I thought I may have cooked them too fast, but 10 mins in, the middle was raw. I decided I must have made the patties too fat and squashed them to try and cook the middle. After about 14 mins they were ready to eat, but looked a mess, my perfect patties now splatted into squelchy uneven discs.
I had a taste and it was like eating a spicy stock cube that had the consistency of mash. That is to say not nice. The flavours were harsh and manufactured and the coriander which I assume was there to give it a thai fragrance, gave it more of a toilet cleaner effect. The chilli heat was powerful though, which I liked, quite often things billed as “spiced” or “spicy” are anything but – however these potato cakes had a good kick.
I can’t see myself trying these again, but I do have a sachet of Simon’s Onion Bhaji mix in the cupboard, so when I get the stomach for it I’ll report back about them.
Simon Rimmer Thai Spiced Potato Cake Mix £1.55 for 100g