Japanese Snack Food Review: Wasabi Peas

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Happy Blog-a-versary to the JSFR! Last year at this time I came up with this whole crazy idea of reviewing Japanese Snack foods and lo! 45 entries later (which is sort of one a week…more or less. Well, actually less but hey! Focus on the 45!) a whole year has passed. So, in celebration, I shall review the (in)famous Wasabi Pea (considering I have been giving these things in pea ratings the whole time).

If you have sharp eyes, you will notice that I offer not only Hapi brand peas but Kasugai brand as well. I love you JSFR junkies enough to sample two brands for the JSFR blog-a-versary, how’s that for devotion? Well, OK in reality I screwed up and grabbed the can o’ peas because TheMan has been known to go on a pea jag (that just doesn’t sound right) and I wanted to get them in a package as well because I heart the Engrish: “A Happy Present from the Earth”. Little did I realize that they were two different brands. Oi! On the plus side, the Hapi peas have their own little weirdness going on as well. Up near the top right there is a cartoon big assed drummer guy…drumming? (what that and peas have to do with each other I am at a loss to explain) and it says around the edge: “A festive treat Hapi snacks for Happy times!”

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What is a Wasabi Pea anyway? I’m not entirely sure, but it appears to be a wasabi paste covered deep fried green pea. The lighter parts of the peas is the wasabi covering so you can see that some peas are about 75% covered while others are more like 98.7% covered. That’s a LOT o’ hot going on and let me tell you, when they say “wasabi” or “hot” they aren’t kidding around. These puppies are SssssssPIIIICAY. Wasabi is a horseradish like veggie but with a ton more chutzpah and a scoval rating that makes Tabasco sauce ashamed. I usually only eat them one pea at a time, having made the mistake of popping two peas in my mouth only once. After the fire department left and I grew a new soft palate I decided Wasabi Peas were definitely a single unit snack food.

Of course, there are the few, the proud, the asbestos lined who can eat two, three even as much as “some” peas in a single crunching but by in large, take these in small doses until you determine if your innards can handle multiple peas. BTW, both brands get big time plusses for giving the consumer WASABI! and not toning down the taste. In fact, other than the Kasuagi peas being a touch brighter green in coloring, there is not a whole lot of difference between the two brands so maybe the idea of Wasabi Pea is a universal thing. At least in taste.

Anyway, after the wash of WASABI there is a nice crunchity quality (or perhaps simultaneous with the crunch, depending on how you eat them) to wasabi peas. They are almost like extremely dense Cheetos in texture. They have a nice resistance to them which gives them a good crunch, yet they fall apart into many smaller crunchy bits once you crack them (the whole Cheeto aspect there). TheMan, martyring himself for science, sucked the wasabi layer off a couple peas to report that under the extreme wasabi he could taste a bit of pea flavor in the fried pea bit. Unfortunately, the wasabi sort of shot my taste buds so I can not confirm or deny the report. He also says that the pea casts an ever so slight sweet taste into the mix (and that Kasugai peas are just a touch sweeter). Again, the wasabi, the taste buds, the confirmation…

I happen to really enjoy Wasabi peas (one pea at a time) but keep in mind that they are SPICY. Some of my Guinea Pigs wanted to rate peas at a 4.5 and personally I’d be all over that kind of rating if they weren’t so darned hot. Those of you with ulcer problems probably don’t want to even look at them for fear of gastric distress. So, I’m going to knock half a pea off the rating for eXtreme spiciness, even though they do say wasabi right on the package and they do deliver wasabi. In difference to about half the non hot food tolerant people of the world (and much to Bubble’s amusement – she thought Wasabi Peas should at least get a 5 Wasabi Pea rating…being Wasabi Peas and all) I’m going to go with a

Rating

of 4 Wasabi Peas out of a possible 5.

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