Friday, October 24, 2008

Chinsukou (ちんすこう) Cookies

a packet of 6 chinsukou cookies (three two-packs)

My husband and I have received this particular brand of cookie twice as souvenir gifts from Japanese folks. The first time, we received a large box of them and this time a somewhat smaller packet. In both cases, the cookies were wrapped inside of their larger packaging in two-packs. We did our best to savor these wonderful cookies and make them last awhile. They are little white sweet blocks of cookie heaven.

a big box of these delectable biscuits

There are a wide variety of confectioners who make these types of biscuits. These ones were made by Nanpudo and can be ordered on their site, though they are generally purchased as a souvenir from Okinawa (as they are a specialty of that area). Several of the makers of chinsukou have ships as part of their logo or the cookie packaging. This is a common icon because the word chinsukou is related to the Yangtze River in China. It's not exactly clear, but there is a relationship between sinking snow and salt and the Yangtze which have something to do with the story behind these cookies. Fortunately, the cookies taste nothing of snow, salt or the Yangtze river.

These cookies is that they are a good example of how some similar food concepts develop independently of one another. These are mainly made of lard, flour, and sugar and are very much like a shortbread cookie you might buy in the U.K. These are a bit more sugary than conventional shortbread and this particular variety also has a wonderful vanilla flavor which is pronounced but not overwhelming. In fact, the taste is likened to vanilla ice cream by the marketers who sell these cookies.

When you sniff the cookies, they smell like fresh Christmas sugar cookies. The smell is very familiar and not at all foreign to those of us who grew up outside of Japan. They are dense, but crumbly. They have coarse bits of sugar in them which add to both the texture and taste. They start off mildly sweet and floury and get a bit sweeter (in a good way) as you nibble away.

As I've mentioned before when writing about snacks sold mainly as souvenirs, there is no calorie information, but I'm guessing these are very evil on that front given the main ingredients. That being said, the cookies are very small and the two-packs encourage portion control.

If you're in Okinawa and are looking for a souvenir to take back home, by all means buy these. I can't imagine anyone would find these anything but a delight unless they had some crazy aversion to nutritionally suspect food. Pick yourself up a box (or two) to have with tea or coffee as well if you have the self-control not to eat yourself sick. They are just that good.


Anonymous said...

Yum, Christmas Sugar cookies- I have not had the opportunity to try these yet = ) I like black sugar from Okinawa = )

Orchid64 said...

These are so good that my husband and I actually considered ordering them from one of the web sites that offers them. We didn't follow through, but we were tempted.

Thanks for commenting!

Hiyoko said...

Chinsuko is basically made from 3 ingredients: flour, sugar, and lard. That's about it. I believe that 1 cookie was around 100cal last time I checked -- but they really are crazy addictive. Love the blog -- keep it up!

Orchid64 said...

Thanks, Hiyoko!

Julie said...

These cookies have been my favorite since I was a little girl. I couldn't remember the name of them for a number of years. Then, my mom gave me a box of cookies which she purchased while in Okinawa. They ended up being Chinsukou (similar to shortbread cookies with a light coating of sugar). They are still my favorite cookies. Absolutely wonderful!

Orchid64 said...

Hi, Julie, and thanks for your comment! I haven't seen these cookies since reviewing them over a year ago. I wish they were more readily available!

sariroo said...

Sorry to bring up such an old post but since finding out about chinsukou a few months ago, I have become quite the fan. I have tried all sorts of flavors including sakura, green tea, pineapple, beni imo, vanilla, and my favorite, sea salt. The sea salt ones taste like my mom's pie crust, salty but a bit sweet at the same time! I seriously could eat my weight in these cookies. Thankfully, there is a little candy shop a few blocks away where I can get a package of 2 cookies for only 21 yen. I just get one flavor each time I go and pretend I'm working off all the calories by walking to the store and home.