At one point or another, most of us have wondered whether there is a shortcut to cooking a good meal. And surely enough, I’ve discovered such a shortcut. There is a service that allows you to select a meal online and delivers the recipe and prepared ingredients to your door, with the promise that you can cook the meal in under 30 minutes. This genius idea comes from a Hong Kong startup called Secret Ingredient.
I remember talking to the founder of Secret Ingredient, Max, when I joined one of their cooking classes a few months ago, and he told me that the idea of his company was to get people in Hong Kong to cook more. He said a lot of Hongkies choose to eat out with their busy work schedules, and through Secret Ingredient he hoped to show/remind people how easy it is to cook and hopefully inspire them to cook more.
I started using Secret Ingredient about 6 months ago, and I’ve tried a couple of their meals since then. Tonight I decided to give them a go again. I logged onto their website in the morning and picked out the Korean BBQ Salmon with Stir-fried Baby Bok Choy and Mushrooms. I selected to have the package delivered to my office in the 5-7pm time slot.
The items arrived promptly at 5pm. I peaked into the brown paper bag and saw that all the items were individually packaged, labelled and on an ice pack. I skimmed through the recipe card and found the instructions to be straight-forward and easy to follow. On the website, it said that I could cook this meal in 15 minutes.
The instructions called for pan frying the salmon for a few minutes and then “roasting” with the lid covered for a few more with some of the Korean BBQ sauce. The next step was to stir-fry the bok choy and mushrooms in the same pan, and when almost done I added the remaining BBQ sauce. Simple as that, I was done in slightly under 20 minutes. Ok, it wasn’t really 15 minutes, but I thought close enough. And the best part was there were so few dishes and pans to wash afterwards! [I know it seems environmentally unfriendly with so many plastic containers the meal comes in, but their website says they use biodegradable packaging made from corn starch.]
My review of the meal? The ingredients were fresh, and in particular the salmon fillets were gorgeous. The end result was a perfectly cooked salmon with a slightly crispy skin. The Korean BBQ sauce was just-enough spicy and seasoned to perfection.
The cost of this meal was $275 for 2, and in general Secret Ingredient meals range from $250-$350 (approximately). Delivery is free if you order over $400, and they currently deliver to many areas on the HK Island and to Tsim Sha Tsui. I admit the meals are a bit pricey if you compare to purchasing ingredients from the local wet markets. But, the meats and fish from Secret Ingredient are imported and the vegetables carefully selected from Hong Kong farms, so I think it is worth the splurge. If I were to buy the salmon fillets from City Super, that would have easily cost me over $200 already.
I keep recommending Secret Ingredient to my friends, so that they can experience how easy it is to cook a good meal and in turn inspire them to cook more. Maybe if you live in Hong Kong, you’ll give this a try too! [If you have a dinner date you want to impress, maybe Secret Ingredient can help you. What’s better than charming your date with a home cooked meal?]
A few other meals I’ve tried:
- “The Salted Pig” pork chop with roasted apple and cinnamon sauce, beer pickled onions and mash
- Sesame Crusted Tuna, Thai-Lime Dressing with Mixed Vegetables and Rice Noodle Stir-Fry
- Lemon-Oregano Chicken with SI’s Ratatouille of Sautéed Veg
Dinner Total (2 persons) = $275 (+$25 delivery fee)*
*I paid for all my Secret Ingredient meals.