Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kameida Seika Fried Wasabi Mochi Puffs

In Japan, no one sells peanut butter cups of any sort. I'm not talking about Reese's brand being absent, but rather no one has decided to offer a confection which mixes chocolate and peanut butter. This is, in part, because these two great tastes that taste great together don't seem like such a powerhouse combo to the Japanese palate. On the other hand, I'm guessing that mochi (rice pounded to a taffy-like state) and wasabi (Japanese horse radish) really are two great tastes that taste great together in the Japanese culinary mindset.

This is a wasabi version of a fried mochi puff that I previously reviewed and liked quite a lot. This bag is a bit smaller at 75 grams, and carries a less daunting total calorie count (429) because of the smaller size. I picked these up at a Lawson's 100 shop which seemed to have an explosion of 100 yen (about a dollar) bags of sembei which I previously could only locate in supermarkets.

These puffs look and smell very similar to the plain ones, which is to say they smell overwhelmingly like cooking oil. In the case of these ones, they were reminiscent of frying oil which has been used again and again. They also, to be honest, taste a lot like them once you get past the first two puffs. There was a bit of wasabi heat, but it was relatively subdued. I had hoped for a richer, more savory and spicy flavor because of the wasabi, but really all I was getting was a fantastic, crunchy texture with a bit of heat and a lot of oil.

I'm not sure what happened with these puffs that didn't happen with the ones I bought before, but I didn't like these as much as the other ones. My guess is that the oil used in the factory starts clean and then is used again and again and I may have gotten a batch which was fried near the end of the oil's usefulness this time whereas my previous experience was with puffs made in cleaner oil.

These were not bad at all, and I think I will slowly finish the bag, but the flavor was too weak and the oil flavor made them less appealing. I don't think I'll be buying them again because I can't trust that the oil issue won't be present again.


Kelly said...

Oh, i wondered what it meant when Lawson has that 100 on their sign. Is it only senbei they sell for 100 yen, or other stuff too?

These look really good, its a pity about the smell.

Orchid64 said...

They sell all sorts of 100 yen stuff, but they also sell things which are more than 100 yen. You have to be a bit careful about it, particularly in the refrigerated section where things like cheese, butter, etc. is higher in price. Most of the shelf stable stuff is only 100 yen though. I find it pretty handy for picking up random items to fill out a recipe like an avocado here or there or a can of tomatoes. They're actually cheaper for some foods than even cheap markets.