Wasabi Peanuts, Anyone?

DSCF9004WASABI, which is Japanese horseradish, is an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine. The stem of the plant is used in paste form to add flavor and a spicy kick to sashimi, sushi, maki, temaki and other Japanese rolls. It is rubbed on to sushi rice that has already been pressed onto nori (seaweed) strips and then rolled with other ingredients, such as crabstick, shrimp or tuna. For more kick, a small amount of wasabi paste is mixed into Kikkoman sauce, and each piece of sushi or sashimi is lightly dipped into the mixture and then popped into the mouth.

That is the traditional use for wasabi. These days, however, wasabi has become a favorite flavor for such interesting bites as popcorn and potato chips, and it is mixed into mayonnaise to make a nice wasabi mayonnaise dressing for salad or sauce for main entrées. Hip and innovative chef Gene Gonzalez of Café Ysabel and the Center for Asian Culinary Studies (CACS) even came up with Wasabi Ice Cream and served it in one of the events that took place in the restaurant several years before ‘revolutionary’ flavors of ice cream were introduced by other restaurants and hotels.

I like wasabi, and I like trying out food products that have wasabi in them. One of my newest ‘discoveries’ is Tats Peanut Crunch Shrimp Wasabi flavor. I found it on the shelves of SM Hypermarket when I was looking for healthy munchies in the nuts section of the supermarket. The 80-gram pack is quite attractive, as it bears a cartoon character face while other brands of nut snacks look so serious and show photos of nuts on the label. Well, this one changes color depending on what flavor it is. Shrimp Wasabi is apple green in color and, being a Green Archer, green happens to be my favorite color.

Tats Peanut Crunch is like the traditional cracker nuts, which means roasted peanuts wrapped in a crunchy coating made with a combination of cake flour, modified starch and glucose syrup. It is manufactured by TMI Food Processing & Development Inc., a snack food manufacturing company established in 2000 and has Tobi as its mother company.

Distributed by Not Just Nuts Inc. (NJN), Tats Peanut Crunch comes in four flavors—Shrimp Wasabi, Garlic Fried Chicken, Garlic Chili, and BBQ with Black Pepper. I have not tried the other flavors, because Shrimp Wasabi happens to have the most attractive packaging, although the others also have the same playful cartoon character face on the label but in a different color. Shrimp Wasabi was the flavor I picked the first time I saw it, and it did not disappoint. I like the powdery green wasabi layer on the cracker nut coating. When you bite into each nut, it is just like a crunchy cracker nut but with a spicy kick that titillates the tongue and palate. Once you start, you will find it difficult to stop until the whole 80-gram packaging is empty.

The other flavors may be good, too, but my vote goes to Shrimp Wasabi.

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