Let’s dig into the history of popular and traditional Japanese snacks!
A Brief Background
In Japan, a very well-known snack that’s quite popular during the cooler season is taiyaki, a baked Japanese sweet typically stuffed with red bean paste, or anko, and served warm. The treat’s name translates literally as “baked sea bream”, however, there is no fish in taiyaki at all! The name actually comes from the fish-shaped mold that the snack is baked into. Taiyaki is commonly found at anyamatsuri, or festival, in the winter, as they’re very easy to hold and can keep you nice and warm!
Where Did Taiyaki Originate From?
Taiyaki was created around 100 years ago in Japan, and has since remained a very popular snack. The origin of the fish shape is unknown, though some believe that because sea bream fish were very expensive at the time, the snack would make the eater feel as if they were eating a luxury food. Its first big boom in popularity occurred in 1976, and has continued to grow ever since.
What is Taiyaki Composed Of?
Taiyaki is quite a simple snack, though there are a variety of possible flavors and fillings. The typical taiyaki is a simple crispy fried ‘pancake’ or ‘waffle’ with sweet red bean paste on the inside. The one you received in September's crate is filled with airy chocolate mousse for a crunchy, creamy, sweet experience!
You don’t have to be within walking distance to a taiyaki stand or nearby a Japanese festival to indulge in these delicious snacks. Try your hand at a taiyaki pan like this one
and make your own at home! All that’s left to decide on now is what you’ll be filling it with and if you’ll be biting in heads or tails first!
Sweet Corn Pretz
A Brief Background
Sweet corn has been a popular ingredient in several snacks and foods in Japan since the late 1800s. The Portuguese brought corn to Japan in the sixteenth century, and it wasn’t grown to a large scale entitle Meiji era, from 1868-1912, when Japan began to modernize the nation. The introduction of American corn was then to be grown as a model staple grain.
During the Showa era (1925-1989), consumer demand shifted to sweet corn, due to its high sugar content and ability to stay fresh longer. Since then, sweet corn accounts for almost all of the fresh corn grown in Japan.
What is Sweet Corn Used In?
You may be surprised, as sweet corn is incorporated into a variety of foods in Japan. It is most popular on ramen, as corn ice-cream, and as flavored snacks like chips. Sweet corn is even sprinkled onto the majority of Western-influenced foods like pasta and pizza.
A Brief Background
You may have seen this colorful, sugary confection in anime and movies, as well as in Japanese markets. It’s called Konpeito, and it is made of simple, unflavored sugar. Introduced to Japan by the Portuguese traders in the 16th century, the word “konpeito” comes from the Portuguese word “confeito”, meaning “confection” or “candy”.
Fun Facts About Konpeito
Although the candies are sweet and simple in both flavor and appearance, Konpeito typically takes 7-13 days to produce, since they are made by repeatedly coating sugar syrup over a core consisting of a grain of coarse sugar.
Since raw sugar was rare in Japan, Konpeito was considered a luxury gift. The Imperial House of Japan even give the sugary sweet as a thank-you gift to high-profile contacts, usually in a small, nice box.
There are several varieties of Konpeito, including unflavored, sakura, peach, and chestnut. You can certainly snack on Konpeito, but many use it as a sweetener, like in coffee or tea.
With its great popularity and cute appearance, Konpeito has been seen in many animes and mangas. Do you recognize any of the following scenes?
A Brief History
The idea of eating seaweed may sound somewhat strange, but if you’ve ever tried sushi, then you’ve most likely already had seaweed! With Japan’s nature being 73% mountainous and 1% consisting of water, seaweed plays a vital role in the Japanese diet, especially due to its ability to balance your diet well.
The black paper-like sheet that wraps your fish and rice together is known as “nori”, and is just one of the many types of edible seaweeds. Other forms of seaweed include hijiki, arame, wakame, and kombu. All in all, there are over 400 seaweed varieties around the world. Pretty impressive, huh?
How Can We Eat Seaweed?
As we previously mentioned, seaweed is commonly consumed in sushi, but it can also be used in a variety of dishes, from seaweed soup and salads to grain dishes and crunchy snacks, like the Calbee Potato Chips in Seaweed & Salt that you may have received in your September crate!
What is your favorite traditional Japanese snack? Share your thoughts in the comments below! (✿◠‿◠)