Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cheese Potato Otsumame Arare

I was drawn to this snack by the picture of the baked potatoes covered in gooey cheese. While I wasn't entirely fooled into thinking that a bunch of little pellets flavored with whey and cheese powders was going to fill my mouth with the flavor of cheesy baked potato, I figured I'd see how close this came. Incidentally, this is another one of those snacks which is designed specifically to be consumed with alcoholic beverages (otsumame). There is an endless parade of them in Japan.

"Arare" means "hail" in Japanese. It's used in reference to food to indicate that something is being produced in little pellet-like pieces. I guess this is supposed to make them easier to eat when you're too drunk to bite off bits of a potato chip without having it crumble into your lap, or your beer glass. Japanese snack manufacturers are so considerate.

The bag is full of small pouches of what are essentially sembei (rice cracker) pellets and peanuts. Each pouch is 12 grams (.4 oz.) and contains a very small portion of peanuts and tiny cracker bits. The amount pictured above is the entire content of one little triangular packet. This portion contains 63 calories, which seems like a lot for such a tiny amount. The peanuts are average in size and comparing them to the sembei gives you a good idea of how small the pellets are. The entire bag cost about 170 yen, or about $1.60 or so in U.S. dollars.

Despite the fact that potatoes are on the cover, glutinous rice is the first ingredient, followed by peanuts. "Potato powder" and smoke flavoring are added in addition to cheese powder, yeast extract, and other seasonings. The smokey flavor is what hits you the most when you bite into these. It's somewhat surprising that they don't smell like much of anything given how intense the smoke flavor is. After the first nibble, the smoke flavor gives way to more of a cheesy bite. The peanuts are blanched so they aren't too intense. It's a nice mix. The texture is pleasantly crunchy.

I liked these, but I'm a bit dissatisfied with the wastefulness that comes along with putting nine tiny plastic packages in the bag. I'm all for portion control, but this is such a small amount that I have the sense that they are more for handing out at parties than for personal snacking. I imagine most people would want just a little more than what is in one package. I'd consider buying these again if I were in the right mood or if I wanted to exercise extremely judicious control of my eating.


ebidebby said...

Those do sound tasty! And how very Japanese to over-package. It happens in the US, too, but it's definitely chronic in Japan, and I feel like it's mostly for aesthetic reason.

ted said...

Hi!, I have compiled a list of the top Asian Food blogs, and yours was included! check it out at http://thedailyreviewer.com/top/asian-food

Orchid64 said...

Ebidebby: Hi there and thanks for your comment. These were nice, but I have to admit to not being a huge fan of smoked cheese. I think s smoked cheese fan might enjoy these even more than I did.

ted: Hi, Ted, and many, many thanks for including me in your list!

I've added your site's Asian food listing to my list of links!

Anonymous said...

Really - a recursive redirect? That's not cool.

Orchid64 said...

Anonymous, I'm not sure why your talk about a recursive redirect, but there is none implemented on this blog. Could you tell me exactly what is happening to you and what actions are leading to it?

If you are being redirected, it has nothing to do with anything on my end and something to do with another page you have loaded, your browser, or spyware. I don't have the programming capability to do such things - and blogger sets all of the code for this blog (and no one else has encountered this issue).

Orchid64 said...

Anonymous - I've learned that if you use Feed Burner and try to force the entire post to be read through the reader, then you get a recursive redirect. I don't use Feed Burner (and I never tried to force anyone's feeds through Google Reader).

I don't put the entire post in the feed because I want people to come to the actual site for reading (because I'm hoping to get a little money from this site eventually - haven't gotten any yet - but I put a lot of time and effort into this and I think it isn't so much to ask that people load the actual site).

So, all you have to do is read the posts on this site rather than try and force it through the feed.