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Recipe to Riches reviewed, episode 4: Triple “S” Korean Meatballs

Recipe to Riches reviewed: Triple “S” Korean Meatball

RECIPE TO RICHES Season 2, Episode 4

This week on Recipe to Riches, things got a touch gritty. For the first time this season, the show’s usual rapid-fire montage of home cooks vying for a spot in the final three was cut with shaky, behind-the-scenes footage of them rushing about to prepare their dishes for the judges. Likewise, the competitors, normally a polite bunch, didn’t hold back, taking sarcastic potshots at each other’s dishes and replacing the usual optimistic sign-offs with bitter parting shots. Is Canada’s most polite reality program showing a little teeth? We sure hope so.


Vancouver’s Jackie Koh—with her self-described “strong personality” (code for diva)—was the closest thing Recipe has ever had to a villain. She stole precious extra seconds preparing her sweet and spicy empress meatballs for the judges, was intransigent in the kitchen and craftily psyched out fellow competitor Benjamin Greenberg, telling him his curry crab sticks were too salty (with their marriage of highbrow taste and lowbrow delivery, they nevertheless struck a chord with the judges). Despite Koh’s confidence (“I deserve to win”), she fell behind in the batch-up almost immediately when she slowed her team to a crawl juicing onions because she wasn’t satisfied with the onion juice provided by the show (we prefer fresh O.J. too). Unsurprisingly, she drove her mentor chef crazy in the process (her competitors had little difficulty producing the requisite 500 samples). Still, after jury-rigging an oven into a smoker, Koh pulled it off and advanced (Belén Welch’s quinoa cumin bites were judged too cheesy, and she was sent home). The marketing challenge that followed was a personality battle, with Koh going up against the shy, teddy-bearish Greenberg. His carnival food cart looked like it was set to net him the big prize, especially since Koh’s fan-wielding Korean dancers got stuck in traffic (they made it just in time to impress judge Tony Chapman). Both had spectacular audience response numbers at the challenge’s end (even though Koh’s numbers seem a bit cooked), but the meatballs, inevitably, won out. As Galen Weston wisely put it: “Canadians. Love. Meatballs.”

Best product that the judges passed on: surf-and-turfsicles

Best line: Greenberg on losing: “I’m angry at meatballs right now and I don’t want to look at one for a long time.”


The Triple “S”—that’s sweet, spicy and savoury—Korean meatballs looked innocuous enough out of the package, sort of like any other meatball. Unfortunately, they were much, much worse than most. On first bite, all anyone on our office panel could taste was the cloying, insubstantial sweetness. The meatballs had a distinct fast-foodiness to them, coming off as spicy, sweet and smoky, but without any real depth. They also oozed a disconcertingly bright orange oil. The sheer number of powders on the ingredient list had a certain irony to it, too, considering Koh almost lost the competition juicing onions: sure, onion and garlic powder are old-hat, but wine powder, apple powder, soy sauce powder? When we squashed a meatball with the flat of a knife, it released its oil, then slowly formed back into shape (one panelist noted that the texture was akin to wet sawdust). On the positive side, our panel noted that they’re “remarkably spherical,” even “eerily consistent.”

Suggested pairing: one of last week’s brownies. Those were pretty good.

  • Terri Nomura

    Can not believe they chose that nasty diva with another “meatball”! I certainly will not be rushing out to purchase a meatball when I could have had crab, curry & coconut!

  • Jean

    I don’t know what show you were watching, but I loved Jackie! She was hilarious. Anyone with that much style and sass has my attention. I loved her unbelievable commitment to the quality and integrity of her food, and I will definitely be purchasing a box of her korean meatballs.

  • Michelle in St. John’s

    Very disappointed! Loblaws, you sold out to a “sure thing” and missed out on the chance to let people try something a bit different. Looks to me like you bought into Jackie’s “look at me!” Vibe. Well I don’t buy it, and I won’t be buy in’ those meat balls!

  • nother meatball

    Seriously? Another meatball? I’m sure there were already korean meatballs in the frozen aisle. Terrible choice this time… i thought Galen was a bit more adventurous..

  • GLuca

    I made the meatballs tonight and they were the best meatballs I’ve ever eaten. Thanks to Recipe to Riches for choosing Jackie!

  • Cindy

    Very disappointed!! Worst meatballs I have ever eaten.

  • Joan

    Cannot believe anyone could call these meatballs good. Glad I didn’t buy these for a special occasion. Between the texture and the flavour I can’t decide which I think is worse. You really dropped the ball on this one, R to R. I’m basing this, in all fairness, on one bite of this meatball. That’s all I could handle. Ugh, I can still taste it.

  • milo

    wow – I just bought these and they tasted like ass.

    the only PC product i’ve ever returned. And the cashier said i was the third person today.

    Crap product with an even worse personality backing it.

  • Shirley Burnham

    Boy you people are really missing it this year. As a faithful watcher I do buy each (although I did hesitate this week..What a nasty person!) Her meatballs looked and tasted like dog food.

  • Susan

    Really! Another meatball? I think that was the wrong choice. Meatballs are boring and there are already several varieties available from Loblaws and other supermarkets.. I won’t be trying them anybtime soon whereas I would have been anxious to try the curry crab sticks.

    Sadly so many of these Recipe to Riches products are a huge disappointment. This makes for good TV but terrible products.

  • Alyssa

    I was really looking forward to trying the crab, and getting them for an evening of cards and drinks. though now i can have meat balls??? na il just atempt to make my own whats the worst that will happen with that? they dont hold and i have hamburger, with buying them i have processed food, when i could have fresh, i have less money on something that as above ppl stated “tasted like dog food”
    i may get them once though as i tried everyone last season (pulled pork awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  • Michelne Proulx

    I was so dissapointed at your choice tonight.The crab sticks recipe was so innovative !
    Another meatball, as tasty as it can be ?????
    Young people love to entertain around the island in their lofts, they love food on sticks or in chinese soup spoons…you really missed the spot tonight.
    People are wanting new things.

  • Lisa

    Can’t believe she won with that nasty attitude. I won’t buy the meatball simply for that reason.

  • Brenda Bigelow

    Like we needed another meant ball, she was a bitch I won’t be buying this one, I did enjoy the first weeks fillo pastry, that was very good. You should have gone with the crab,
    I and my sister tried the polenta pockets. didn’t like the filling, won’t be getting that one again.
    still in love with last years lemon cake, yummy.

  • Crimson

    I am with most of the responses here. I prefer to try all of the winners but this is one I won’t waste my money on. The personality of the creator put me off so much that I’d have avoided it but with the reviews of the product so far there’s no way I will try these.

    Meatballs are too easy to make at home and they taste great. Even if I’m feeling lazy I can toss a bottle of BBQ sauce into a slow cooker with a bag of frozen balls and it sounds like they would taste better and be a better value than these.

    I’m going to try to track down a curry crab cake recipe now. :D

  • Dee

    I will not be buying these. I love spicy food, but meatballs… Sorry not innovative enough to warrant the trip to the store. I believe the meatballs were picked since they are more easily mass produced on already existing lines. The creators personality was also distasteful.
    The crab bites looked good, unfortunately it didn’t win. I would have bought those. I am with Crimson, am wanting curried crabs cakes tonight… And we have the recipe… Thanks Benji! You won me.

  • Bear

    Still think the Cheesy Bees Nests are the best! And so many options for cooking them, change up the fruit for a new flavour, or use light cream cheese and they could be a Blue Menu product. Like several of the other comments posted here I wouldn’t buy the Korean meat balls on pure principal, the Empress was just nasty.

  • Wendy

    I also will not be trying this weeks product A meatball a meatball nothing special .I would have loved to try the crab on a stick I really think they called it wrong this week.

  • Terri

    So disappointed. Another meatball! Doesn’t PC already have about 50 different ones? I would never purchase a product created by such a nasty diva. I would so love to have tried the curry crab sticks and I loved Benjamin; I am so disappointed for him also.

  • Deb

    Seems like I am not the only one who thought the judges blew it with this decision. I would have rushed to the nearest Loblaws to try either the Quinoa bites or the Spiked Crab Sticks. With all of the meatballs currently on the market, half a dozen choices already offered by President’s Choice, why would I want to yet try another one? I think PC missed a huge opportunity here – quinoa is a delicious and amazing “super food” that’s trending right now, and curry crab in coconut batter? YUM!!! I will not be in a hurry to try PC’s new line-up anytime soon. Such a disappointment.

  • Lynda

    I just returned the Korean Meatballs to the store…they were awful to say the least. Too spicy, looked more like bread balls than meat balls…and now that I saw the judges comment about “sawdust” that says it perfectly. There was no sweetness or smokiness to these at all. Glad I decided sample these before I considered serving to guest during Christmas.

  • Jackie Koh

    Jean, it’s so nice to see such a positive review amongst all the others here and elsewhere. I am passionate about food and what I feed to my family, friends and now the public who may enjoy the same. President’s choice did a fabulous job at producing the Triple S Korean Meatballs despite the challege of having to substitue the fresh ingredients for more a commericalizeable and consistantly produceable product. I think it tastes delicious and the product definitely features my flavour profile. Thanks a million for your kind words Jean. Jackie

  • Jackie Koh

    Oops! I missed your comment GLuca. Thank you!!

  • Glenn J

    Speaking as a very biased husband, what you see is what you get with Jackie Koh. There is nothing made up, she is a real person with a passion for food, and all things in general. If you are not enamoured, so be it, but I am, and so are many others who embrace the “Don Cherry” of the food industry. Benji was a great guy, that wasn’t the only point. It was also about food, flair, panache and charisma. Diva? For sure! Divine, intelligent, voluptuous, attractive.

    Glenn J. ((biased, husband)

  • Shmee_it

    what a waste of money… Not sure what the judges and weston were tasting!!

  • Maria

    I just made the meatballs for dinner and they were terrible. They way the judges made the meatballs sound like they tasted great, but sorry to say it was the opposite for me. My kids would not even try to taste it, I threw them in the garbage. What a waste of money

  • David H

    I didn’t care for homely girl Belen with her boring receipt and I though for sure Ben would win! God I hate meatball b&%$# with her loud cloth and personality but damn these are really really good I can’t seem to stop eating…

  • Jackie Koh

    David, you just made my day. Thanks for your passionate comment. Jackie

  • Lynda

    Worst meatballs I have ever tasted,threw them in the garbage,what a waste of money,I wish I had thought to return them to the store.

  • lawrence

    I just want to know when did Korean have meatballs as usual steal steal and mix some chinease or Korean shit and call it there own wow encourge them more stupid judges as if we gonne buy it

  • Number 1

    Being one of the privileged few to have tasted the real thing straight out of Jackie’s oven, there is a definite difference between supermarket and homemade for reasons of pricing and economics obviously. But that said these meatballs outclass the other meatball supermarket competition. Hot and spicy. Just like Mrs. Koh :)

  • Wendy

    Sorry !! they were the worst meatballs I have ever eaten.As for Jackie she’s to much into herself .

  • Lindsey

    This was the most tasteless meatball I have ever tasted. The texture was soggy and horrible. The only thing you can taste is the burning hot in them. My mouth is burning and they are disgusting. Going to toss out the remainder of them not used. Not worth freezing. What was PC judges thinking.

    Total trash and a waste of money…..Like most of this yrs products.

  • bazzz

    These were absolutely terrible. Wish I read reviews first.

  • Jodi Grossman

    I bought these to try. They were beyond hideous!!!!! Spongy, dry, mealy textured, not sweet enough, too hot, funky meat taste, like bad pork… Ugghhhhh!!! I seriously question why they like this and how did she win??? Does Canada need another meatball??? Certainly not this one.

  • c johnston

    i totally agree we did not need another meatball the judges got it very wrong i would of loved to try the curry coconut crab stick and would of ran out to purchase this product but not the meatball it would be nice if they could also bring this product in and see what the consumers think

  • Mike

    Last week my wife and I were at the superstore here in moncton nb,not knowing what to have for supper we came upon the display that had the triple s meatballs and the butter chicken, we decided that we would try the meatballs. BIG MISTAKE, they were the worst thing we have ever eaten, we do enjoy trying different types of food in our household, these were not worth $10,000, they ended up in the garbage. If this was the winning recipe, the other two contestants food must have been some bad. Needless to say we will never try any other recipes from this show. Very disappointed.

  • Ernst

    Bloor Street Market was sampling these the other week…man they were awful, liked a dried-out felafel with meat flavouring. The texture was really off. Wouldn’t be surprised to see these going for 50% off in short order.

  • Brenda Bigelow

    Just so u folks know, you can take back the products if you don’t like it and get your money back. God knows they are not cheap, and I can’t afford to waste my money on something I don’t like. I’m really into this competition, and try everything I have only taken one thing back for a refund, that was the banic casarole.
    I didn’t buy the meat balls because I didn’t like the gal who made them,judges made a bad choice I was looking forward to trying the crab on a stick, sounded yummy and different, not to mention I enjoy crab, I make the best meat balls, so why would I buy someone elses.

  • Jackie Koh

    Toronto Life, I just wanted to clarify fyi that the “orange oil” colour derived from the Korean chilli powder and chilli paste. It’s natural colour from the ingredient, not food colouring. I hope that helps.

    Mike, I feel bad that you didn’t get the satisfaction you were looking for. It’s obvious that you like meatballs over lasagna so I’d like to suggest that you try and make them following my original recipe using coarsely ground meats, apple pear puree and adding more grated ginger than stated amount. I won the category on the original recipe and it does taste out of this world.

  • shoba

    I always like to give all the winners a fair try on the product, but I have to tell you that I am from the Islands and I eat pepper in all my food. But this meat ball was the just too hot. I had to eat small pieces of it with bread to control the pepper from burning my mouth. My husband could not eat it or my son.

  • lorraine o’riordan

    Has anyone tried the Butter Chicken lasagna? It is scrumptious! Best lasagna I’ve ever had (and I’m a good cook). The only downside is that you have to cook the whole thing at once – when you live alone like I do, it means eating lasagna all week – doable because it is so yummy but wonder if there’s a way to partially pre-cut the dish. I love the spiciness (not too much), however, cannot serve it to my 4-year-old grandson whom I babysit daily because he would find it too hot. All in all, a great dish

  • Paco

    Worst thing I have ever eaten. It was like a compressed lump of sawdust and chili peppers. I threw them out to the neighbors dog. May the lord have mercy on his colon!

  • Jodie

    Thank you everyone for your comments I will take the advise and not waste my money.

  • Evan Stewart

    As a rule, I don’t normally bother to post reviews of food items. However, as an adventurous chef, I must say that these were by far the most horrendous prepared food item I can recall. Simply terrible on so many levels. Texture, spice, aftertaste, you name it – not even a hint of any redeeming qualities! I must say that the judgement of President’s Choice was so off base, I will be seriously skeptical of any future “endorsements”

  • Tim Smith

    All I can say is thank god that the creator of this horrendous product didn’t win, but I’m sure everyone knew she had no chance at all. The product is poor, unoriginal and from the statistic was the worst seller out of the winning products. Also, it’s quite amusing that the actual creator has been commenting, and yet no one really cares.

  • Karen Kardynal

    I have 2 boxes at the lake….how can I serve them or should I just toss them in the garbage. I picked them up because they were on sale and thought I would try them but after all these reviews I am afraid to serve them to my family.