Sunday, February 22, 2009
Corn Potage Sembei (Rice Crackers)
When you think of Japan, you don't think of them being "corn-fed", but it is the largest consumer of corn crops from the United States and their appetite for imported corn just keeps on growing. Most of the corn is used to produce processed foods rather than eaten as fresh corn.
One of the most popular corn-based products is corn potage soup. You find it for sale everywhere as a powdered "cup-a-soup" style drink, but also in refrigerated and frozen food sections as "heat and eat" soup. Corn potage soup is made with cream, butter, onion, and various spices. It's a mixture of slightly sweet corn with rich, creamy fatty flavors and savory elements.
These sembei are meant to offer the flavor of that soup on a salted snack. The front of the bag touts "super sweet corn powder" and "milk" as ingredients. Flavorings include a lot of different powders including corn, cheese, "super sweet corn", onion, butter, and whey. I picked this up at a Family Mart convenience store for 218 yen ($2.32) and there are 17 large (2.7 in./7 cm. diameter) crackers in it. Each cracker is 38 calories.
When you open the bag, you are immediately hit by the scent of the same type of flavors that come with instant corn potage soup: corn, cheese, and onion. The texture is very crispy and these were very fresh. When you put then on your tongue, you get a strong sense of their buttery flavor followed by sweet corn. These are both sweet and salty at the same time. Personally, I find them to be incredibly delicious and I had to will myself to stop after 3 crackers.
I recommend that you seek these out and buy them while they're available. These are a limited edition that are only being sold in convenience stores for about 4 months. I don't know when they were first released (the information is not on Kameida Seika's web site), so act fast.