Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Fried Cut Mochi Puffs (Kameida Seika brand)
I've been on a bit of a mochi kick lately, so I decided to make this packet of fried mochi puffs my next very Japanese snack experiment. I've had mochi (rice pounded into a taffy-like consistency) in several forms, but never all puffed up and salty like this. I wondered if the end product would end up tasting like the fresh stuff in any way.
This bag cost 180 yen ($2) and contains 100 grams (3.5 oz.) of fried rice cake bits. It sounds like this should be healthier than a bag of chips, but there are 581 calories in this bag. That's 166 calories per ounce (28 grams) and it'd be easy to eat between half and all of the bag in one sitting of munchy goodness. For the record, one ounce (28 grams) of plain chips is about 155 calories. These are brought to you by Kameida Seika, maker of the tasty edamame rice crackers I reviewed earlier. By the way, the "cut" in the name probably refers to the scoring on the mochi which gives it a different texture when fried up.
Unlike many other Japanese snacks, these do not come in individual packages for easy portion control. They come in one big plastic tray. This makes it even harder to control eating too many at once. The primary ingredients are rice and vegetable oil. They're salted and made with soy, yeast, and chicken flavorings. The puffs are rather craggy and look a bit like Styrofoam packing peanuts, especially on the inside. They smell slightly like oil. The bag promises that these are crunchy and "light", though the calorie information doesn't bear out the claim that they're light nutritionally.
Despite the discouraging aroma, these are very tasty. They are super crunchy and salted at just the perfect level. The flavor is very hard to pin down, but they carry a hint of the flavor of a sembei cracker (unsurprisingly), a slight oily flavor, and a meaty flavor which is difficult to pin down. I'm guessing that the combination of soy, yeast and chicken is blended such that nothing dominates, but they all form a pleasant melange.
I really liked these. I ate the bag in two sittings and felt bad for all those nasty, empty calories. I would definitely get these again if I were being indulgent. I wish they weren't so bad for me, because I could easily eat these on a regular basis. I think they're as tasty or tastier than potato chips.