Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Corn Potage Snack
Everyone associates Japan with sushi, seafood, and rice. Japanese people have a few guilty nutritional secrets that you don't really notice unless you live here for awhile. The first "secret" is that the Japanese love mayonnaise. In fact, there are fan clubs devoted to mayonnaise. I sometimes joked that mayonnaise is the fourth food group in Japan because they can consume it in great abundance.
The second "secret", however, is the one that applies here. That one is that the Japanese love corn. Many newcomers to Japan are appalled to learn that you can order it as a topping on pizza. Back when I first arrived, my husband and I used to occasionally stop by a Shakey's Pizza while we were out shopping. Shakey's offered lunch time buffets at which you could eat as much as you wanted provided you were willing to eat whatever types of pizza they happened to put out there. We were displeased to learn that tuna and corn was the only variety on offer.
If you peruse convenience store baked goods, you'll often find an unholy marriage of these two secret loves in a corn and mayo sandwich. Well, it's not really a sandwich. It's a white hot dog bun type of thing topped with mayonnaise and corn. I can promise you right now that I won't be reviewing that nutri-bomb of bad carbs and fat.
Getting back to corn though. One of the more popular varieties of soup in Japan is corn potage. You can buy it in cans, as an instant powdered cup of soup mix or you can get it in family-size bags so that the whole family can put away some tasty cream corn soup. This particular flavor is what the makers of this corn snack are trying to reproduce.
This salted snack item is brought to you by Riska which makes a variety of small bags of cheap snacks for 27 yen each (about 25 cents USD). The bag contains 20 grams (.7 oz.) of puffy, light yellow corn puffs. They are airy and smell like sweet corn. Each puff is covered with a light yellow powder and a few flecks of parsley. The powder is hard to see because it is the same color as the puffs and sticks pretty well.
These are very crispy and really couldn't be better on the texture side. They taste both salty and sweet. This is no doubt to reproduce the sweet notes corn sometimes carries and is managed by adding Sucralose to the mix. The flavor is intensely savory, but very reminiscent of instant corn potage soup. Quite frankly, I love these and if I were looking for a crispy, salty snack, this would definitely be something I'd want to partake of.
I once sent a bag of these to a friend living in the U.S. and he told me they reminded him of Cap'n Crunch cereal. I can see where they might bring that to mind with their sweetness and crunch. Cap'n Crunch is, after all, made from corn (and oats). However, they are much airier and more like a cheese puff or ball so I think the comparison stops there. Also, there is no actual sugar in these and eating one of these 20 gram bags will set you back 118 calories. I'm guessing that's a better bet than 20 grams of Cap'n Crunch, and these won't cut up the roof of your mouth.