Thursday, February 4, 2010
Alix Goma Soy Beans (Setsubun)
After researching and shopping for this week's worth of Setsubun snacks, I wondered if soy bean producers are rubbing their hands together with glee at the notion of Setsubun just as confectioners are happy about Valentine's Day and Halloween. This notion was reinforced when I researched the maker of these sesame soy bean snacks, Alix. Alix makes a variety of soy-bean and rice-based products as well as snacks with nuts. One of their pages is nothing but Setsubun-related items. Of course, Alix also has a page devoted to Doll's Festival snacks, so I might be revisiting them if I do anything related to that holiday this year. Since this is a Japanese snacks blog, it would seem appropriate for me to hit upon the holiday foods in Japan eventually. Still, it's hard to get enthusiastic about soy beans (for Setsubun) or puffed rice (for the Doll's festival).
Confronted with a plethora of soybean snack options as part of the Setsubun displays at local markets, I opted for these sesame seed(goma)-covered ones. Among the types I passed on were ones that looked frosted with white sugar, salted and seasoned ones, and ones mixed with bits of nori. I chose these because they were only 98 yen ($1.07) for a 100 gram (3.5 oz.) bag and I have fond memories of the last sesame-based treat that I reviewed.
When you open the bag, you mainly smell the sesame seeds. Each little ball is a sphere that is nearly perfectly and evenly covered with seeds. I don't know how they manage this, but it's a pretty impressive feat considering how small they are (about the size of a small marble). The flavor is at first of sesame seeds, light sweetness, very light salt, and then the soybeans with a return on the sesame toward the end. The sweet and salty flavors are relatively subtle and allow the sesame to shine through and the soybean to peak out.
I enjoyed these and would definitely place them at the top of the heap if I were choosing a Setsubun snack to eat 45 of (one for each year I've been alive). That being said, these are fairly fattening. The bag probably holds about 50 soy peas coated in sesame and you'll consume 460 calories for the privilege of having the entire bag. They are fairly protein rich though (16.1 grams) and rather fatty (23.7 grams). I'd certainly consider buying them again if I were in the mood, but I would have to place them a distant second to the Daiiti Seika Goma Crunch candy. That being said, these are definitely healthier and less likely to produce cavities.
(Thus ends my week of Setsubun-related posts. I hope you found them interesting!)