Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Cisco's Shittori Sweet Potato Cookies
A few of my students know about my blogs, including this snack blog. I'm not trying to hide them from anyone, but I'm also not foisting them on Japanese folks. The main problem with telling a student about my outside projects is that they will feel somewhat bound to actually read or follow what I do out of politeness. That's a burden I don't want to put on them.
When my student looked over this blog, she told me she was amazed at the variety of snacks that I wrote about because she had never seen or experienced the vast majority of them. Considering she has two children, and presumably has purchased snack foods for them, that is an interesting reflection on the scatter shot nature of availability of certain foods in Japan. You really don't know what you'll find or where you'll find something new. There must be an elaborate manner in which shelf space is negotiated in Tokyo that I'd love to gain insight into, but I'm guessing it isn't the sort of information companies would like to share. After all, if they can effectively squeeze their products onto hotly desired shelves, they're not going to tell anyone else how they manage it.
I discovered these cookies at Don Quixote, a chain of stores that carries a variety of goods including novelties, housewares, clothing, and food. There are branches of this shop in Japan and Hawaii, though I don't think you can find them anywhere else in the United States. The package contains six 5 cm x 3 cm (2 in. x 1.2 in.) cookies and cost 98 yen ($1.07). The company that makes this is Nissin, a company that is better known for its cold breakfast cereals than its cookies, though they do make a small variety of cookies that tend to show up in 100 yen shops as well as some other sweets.
The ingredients for this includes the usual and expected suspects like flour, sweet potato, and sugar, but interestingly they also include white bean jam. It was my hope that the inclusion of sweet beans would lend these a nice, moist texture. They smelled pretty good, like cookies and sweet potato. Each cookie is 41 calories. The taste was disappointing. They're not very sweet, and though taste decently like sweet potato, the texture is a bit strange. In fact, it reminded me a bit of Play-doh.
These cookies were okay. I ate 5 of the 6 in the bag and then left the other sit around for awhile and eventually threw it away. It wasn't that they were really bad or anything. They just weren't very good. I think a bit more salt or more sweetness may have pepped up the flavor more. They also may have benefited from more butter, but the real issue was the texture. These cookies are moist (which is what "shittori" means), but that isn't enough. Frankly, I'd go for a traditional satsuma imo treat from a real sweets shop rather than these. I think these cookies are actually supposed to be an imitation of those traditional sweets, but they are too pale a one.