Taste Test: Iceland Vegan No Chick No Porkies Paella

Meat replacements have been hitting the shelves hard over the past year or so, with supermarket own brands, Oumph, and Vivera all offering alternatives to popular meat items and meals. Iceland impressed vegans and omnis alike when they brought their No Bull burgers to the ring, complete with beetroot 'blood', and recently they expanded their line to include plenty more plant based products.

The one that caught my eye was their No Chick No Porkies paella. I understand that traditional paella varies across Spain, with some regions adding rabbit or seafood, but as the name suggests, Iceland kept theirs simpler with slices of soya chorizo and alarmingly realistic chicken. The mixture also included courgette, pepper, and peas, to introduce more flavours and texture.

a bowl of iceland vegan paella with a hand and fork reaching in


I'll start with the negatives, because it's always nicer to end on a high, isn't it? The chicken and chorizo really did not float my boat, and I can't see many people enjoying them to be perfectly honest. Most of the chorizo was bordering on mushy, with only a few chewy edges that felt closer to meat. The chicken was the same, some chunks were soft and spongey, then others were harder. If you've ever had chicken that has dried out a little in the oven and become tough, I can liken it to that.

The inconsistency in textures is what leads me to believe this won't be for everyone. If you're a omnivore used to tougher meat you might find the softer pieces odd, and vice versa for vegans, who may find the realistic chewy pieces unappetising. Personally I didn't hate it and I wouldn't label it disgusting or gross, but it did surprise me as I was expecting a close comparison to meat after the hype surrounding their burgers.

This may be me being fussy, but I'm also not a fan of the packaging. As I browsed the store I saw three other paellas, all with boxes or bags depicting juicy prawns, zesty lemon, and fluffy rice. The No Chick No Porkies version was just in a beige and green bag that clearly showed which range it belonged to, but also made it look quite boring. It would be nice to have a transparent area of the bag or perhaps an illustration, something to add colour and make it more exciting.

a beige bag with 'no chick no porkies paella' written on a plate in green text

Negatives aside, let's weigh up the positives. The paella costs £2, and I think this is fair for what you get. It microwaves in 6-7 minutes, and while it may not be the healthiest of meals, it is still more nutritious than its meaty counterparts, and it's really handy that vegans can have a quick, convenient option available. It is labelled as a meal for one but could also be used as a side for a stuffed peppers, a tomato bean stew, or roasted vegetable kebabs.

The flavour of the dish is pretty good overall. The mock meat pieces aren't total dupes of chorizo and chicken, and are a little bit salty, but they're not bad at all taste-wise. I was surprised that the paella tastes very rich and authentic, like it would if the fat from pork chorizo had melted in to the cooking. The vegetables also helped to add bursts of fresh flavour but if I had this again I would include either more vegetables or a salad for some crisp texture.

Overall, I wouldn't rush to buy this again but I wouldn't turn it down if someone put it in front of me, you know? If you enjoy paella and you're happy to try new textures, this is a good one to stash in the freezer, but for me the textures were a little offputting and they were the only thing in the meal that varied. It started to feel stodgy and same-y halfway through, so I'd much prefer it with the aforementioned sides. I'm still open to trying the rest of the range, and it's always great to see more well priced, accessible options out there.

Have you tried this range?

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