Snacks – A Love Hate Relationship Japanese Style


Snacks a love hate relationship the Japanese style. Japan is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean. The “Land of the Rising Sun” is a country where the past meets the future. Japanese culture stretches back millennia, yet has also been quick to adopt and created the latest modern fashions and trends. Japan is not only a historic country with cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Yokohama and Nara. The home of Sumo wrestling is celebrated as a country with dense cities, imperial palaces, mountainous national parks, sushi and bullet trains. Japan is also known for its samurai swords, architecture, anime and cuisine. Please comment below to let us know what you think.

Senbei are Japanese rice crackers.
They are available in hundreds of flavors, shapes and colors.
Senbei are best fresh off the grill.

Pocky isn’t so much a snack as it is an equalizer, a Japanese common denominator. They arrive in bouquets of as many as 15 individual sticks, designed to be shared with anyone and everyone. For years, commercials ended in slogans like “Anata mo watashi mo Pocky! (You and me and Pocky!)” or “Ebibadi Pocky! (Everybody Pocky!)”

It’s natural, then, that there are Pocky varieties for every palate, over 300 types encompassing every shape, color and flavor. Though the original is a thin pretzel stick covered in chocolate, there’s also Chestnut Pocky, Crème Brulee Pocky, and Kobe Wine Pocky. Some have larger cookies or more icing. In the winter, you can buy purple Sweet Potato Pocky. In the summer, there’s pale green Kiwi Pocky.

A classic Japanese confection, Dorayaki is made of honey pancake sandwich with sweet red bean filling. It’s wildly popular amongst the children and adult alike in Japan.

Dorayaki (どら焼き) is best described as a dessert with red bean filling between two slices of sweet fluffy pancakes.  If you are familiar with Japanese cartoon from the 70’s, you probably know this dessert from the anime character Doraemon who is crazy about this snack and falls for any trap involving them.

Dorayaki is a popular Japanese snack and dessert, made of honey pancake sandwich with sweet red bean filling. A children and adult’s favorite in Japan.

Mitarashi Dango is one of the many very traditional Japanese Mochi sweets. Small round Mochi balls are skewered on bamboo sticks and covered with a gooey sweet and salty brown sauce. Mitarashi Dango is a great snack and quite satisfying without being overly sweet. You may want to try it one afternoon with hot green tea.

It is said that this dessert’s name, Mitarashi, comes from a festival of a famous shrine in the city of Kyoto in western Japan. Mitarashi Dango was thought to be made as an offering for gods at this shrine in the 14th century.  Since then, Mitarashi Dango was sold at street venders in shrines in Kyoto and eventually all over Japan.  Today it is quite common. You can find it at Japanese sweet shops, of course, and also at supermarkets and convenience stores.

Daifuku or Daifuku Mochi is a type of wagashi, or Japanese sweet. Daifuku is a popular Japanese snack and usually served with green tea. Daifuku is most commonly filled with red bean paste, but some are filled with white bean paste (Shiroan). There are also mochi which is colored and flavored with kinako (soy bean flour), yomogi (Japanese mugwort), matcha green tea powder or a touch of red food coloring.

There are two types of the red bean filling: koshian (fine texture) and tsubuan (coarse texture). It’s up to you which red bean paste you prefer as the filling, but many prefer tsubuan with its coarse texture and the azuki bean skin still kept in the paste.

Mochi is made of short-grain japonica glutinous rice (mochigome). Traditionally, mochi is made through a labor-intensive method. The glutinous rice is cooked and pounded with wooden mallets (kine) in a traditional mortar (usu). We call this mochi-pounding process “mochitsuki”. The mochi is then formed into round or rectangular shapes.

The savory, creamless version of Pocky, Pretz are also made by Glico, presumably in the exact same long-skinny-cylindrical biscuit factory.

To be honest, I never really ate these growing up. In fact, I don’t even remember them. It’s a shame, because they’re pretty darn tasty. Like many of the Japanese snacks, they come in fairly idiosyncratic flavors.

Tomato is my favorite, with a salty, glutamate-rich savoriness that is not at all tomato-like. Speaking of things that don’t taste like other things, Salad flavor has exactly zero similarities to a real salad, unless you count slightly sweet, slightly vinegary croutons.

Kaki no tane or Kaki-pi are a common snack in Japan. The two elements of Kaki-pi are kaki-no-tane (柿の種), small crescent-shaped fragments of senbei (soy-flavored rice crisps), and peanuts. They are often consumed with beer and are sometimes a bar snack. The name comes from the fact that the pieces of senbei look like a seed (種 tane) of the persimmon (柿 kaki). The “pi” (pronounced as “pea”) is an abbreviation of ピーナッツ piinattsu, or “peanuts”.

If you’re a fan of Japanese flavored snacks, you’re likely to have tried Wasabi Peas at least once in your life. Green Mame Wasabi Peas, popular both in Japan and abroad, offer a light, crunchy texture paired with a subdued wasabi flavor and a buttery aftertaste.

Anpan is a delicious Japanese sweet roll filled with azuki (red bean) bean paste. The word comes from “an” meaning sweet bean paste and “pan” meaning bread. It was introduced in the late 1800’s and became a favorite for many Japanese. Even the famous cartoon Anpanman is based on this delicious bread.

The maker of the first anpan was Yasubei Kimura, a samurai during the Meiji Period. In 1875, the dissolution of the samurai classes continued as everything was starting to become more westernized in Japan. Because of this, Kimura-san started looking for a way to make a living. While wandering around the area, he saw many samurai who had started working Western jobs which were entirely new to them. On one corner was a young man making some bread. That gave him an idea of starting his own bakery.

Taiyaki is a Japanese sweet shaped like tai (red snapper). If you haven’t heard of what makes them so good, come have a look in here!

Have you heard of “Taiyaki“? It is a Japanese snack in the shape of a fish. For foreign visitors who have no idea what a taiyaki is; and for Japanese who would like to know some surprising and random facts about taiyaki, this article is for you.

Generally, the dough of taiyaka is made from wheat flour while the paste is crushed boiled red bean mixed with sugar. On a hot iron plate, the dough is first added and then the paste. For some reasons (that we will explain later), Japanese have a habit of using the shape of a fish as the mould; since that fish is called “tai”, we call this sweet “tai-yaki”.

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