Thursday, November 19, 2009
Kracie Muichaimashita Chestnuts
There are two ways to look at natural food like raisins or dried cranberries. You can consider that they are merely meant to be components of some more complex dish or you can see them as snacks unto themselves. In the case of the aforementioned items, they clearly fall into the category of being both. In the case of today's product for review, my sense of whether or not this was meant to be a snack is rather muddled.
On the side which indicates "snack", I look at the fact that this is sold in quite a small foil pack (35 grams/1.2 oz.). There's also the fact that the chestnuts are next to preserved foil-packed chunks of sweet potato that I have bought and eaten as a snack on occasion before. I think these things should be in snack happy shape simply because of their size and presentation.
That being said, I think that both the sweet potato and chestnuts are meant to be used as a garnish on rice or as a component in a more complex dish. The web site for this product features various recipes, some of which portray this as a garnish and others that show it as an integrated component. That being said, I think I can treat these as a snack just like I did the sweet potatoes and would regard other types of nuts. You can decide for yourself if this is misplaced or not. I like chestnuts, and I wanted to give these a chance as a healthy snack. They only have 66 calories and have 1.4 grams of protein.
I got these for 100 yen ($1.11) at a local convenience store. I'm guessing they are so cheap not only because the portion is small, but also because they are from China. The web site says that they are organic and are baked and roasted using "infrared" techniques. I'm not sure what that means. I had never heard of this type of cooking before, but apparently it's all about reaching high temperatures quickly. It's supposed to be good for dense foods, but carries a risk of burning or charring. Since chestnuts are cooked in their shells, this is probably a safe, quick method for dealing with them.
The chestnuts themselves seem pretty bland and not too dissimilar from raw chestnuts, though the texture is much more palatable. When I lived in Pennsylvania, I used to pry open and eat raw chestnuts when I was a kid so it's a familiar flavor to me. Whatever the cooking method used for these, it didn't seem to impart much added flavor to the chestnuts. Their texture is fine, slightly firm, but crumbly. They are dry in the same way that a sweet potato is dry. The flavor is subtle and earthy, and screams for enhancement with sugar and vanilla or brandy.
These were fine, but completely a flat experience. They didn't work at all as a snack, but I think they'd be good if crushed, mashed, or chopped and added to oatmeal, rice pudding, etc. They just aren't going to work as a snack by themselves.