Calling for “Vegetarian Today” supermarket chain Albert Heijn sells his own vegetarian line, named Ah Fresh. These croquette-look-alikes have the weird name of ‘tree trunks’ and for a while already are drawn to my attention from the vegetarian shelf. They look like nice croquettes and despite knowing that baking croquettes in a regular frying pan never leads to good results, I am attracted by the beautiful orange color and green herbs at the ends.
On the back of the package I learn that Albert Heijn has no intention to offer these ‘trunks’ as vegetarian croquettes, but as a vegetarian “meat bar”. Ah, good to know. The trunks are naturally protein-rich in that they are made of 31% soy protein and 20% wheat protein. By the use of free-range egg eggwhite and vegetarian cheese (13%) the trunks are not vegan. The added vitamins B12 and iron provide each for 15% of the recommended daily amount.
Once you open the packaging, there is this lemony parsley mixed fragrance. Deliciously fresh even though not a drop of lemon seems to be in the product. Cooked in liquid (vegetable!) butter or oil, the trunks are easy to get evenly brown. This is an obvious difference with a croquette that you usually have to fry for the same result. As a real croquette the crust cracks during baking which makes the cheese run out a bit. Therefor it can not be prevented completely that it sticks lightly to the pan. However, this also in no way is the same as with a real croquette.
The crust is crispy and has a slightly salty taste. From inside the trunks have a compact yet also fleshy texture that you often see in soy products. This compactness makes them sturdy enough to fry in a frying pan instead of falling apart like croquettes and not getting evenly brown. The slightly spicy, broth-like taste is also known to soy products. However the cheese seems to be gone.
I am actually pleasantly surprised by the ‘tree trunks’. These croquette look-alikes are very easy to prepare in an ordinary frying pan (but stay there!) and therefore also suitable for the conscious frying-free eater. You should not be mistaken by the firmness of the trunks; much more than a croquette they are a valuable side dish to the meal and not really suitable for a sandwich.