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My current Japanese snack food obsession: Yuzu Kosho Kettle Chips by Calbee

If you’ve ever been to Japan, or just know about Japanese snacks, you know that the Japanese apply their obsessive nature to snack foods too.  We benefit from this by eating some of the most inventive, and sometimes tasty snacks.  Here’s my current Japanese snack food obsession, Yuzu Kosho Kettle Chips by Calbee.

Calbee is the leading chip and snack maker in Japan, and you’ll see their products in almost every convenience store and supermarket in Asia.  These chips are yuzu kosho flavor.  Yuzu kosho is a paste made from rind and juice of yuzu, what I consider the best citrus smell/taste in the world, and chili pepper and salt.  It is originally from the south of Japan but in recent years has become common and popular throughout all of Japan.  You’ll commonly see a little dab of yuzu kosho paste on a tangle of soba noodles, or a salad, or maybe grated daikon radish, or on top of meats, etc.  It’s become trendy as of late, so you’re likely to see it somewhere if traveling in Japan.  Yuzu zest and juice is a trendy ingredient in fine restaurants and not limited to Japanese restaurants at all.  Its one of the current gimmick ingredients used by top chefs and bartenders worldwide.  You will see yuzu martinis and yuzu infused sauces and dishes in many trendy restaurants outside of Japan, like Sydney, or London, or NY or LA.

These chips have the sweet fragrance of yuzu citrus, the sharp bite of the chili and salt in the yuzu kosho, and the heavy crunch that comes from thick cut kettle cooked chips.  I think it’s one of the most perfect combinations ever in a potato chip.  During my trip, I have so far consumed six small bags of yuzu kosho chips, and have packed four to go home with me.  If only it were available in the US.

These chips are available in Japan only.  They can be found in most of the million plus convenience stores.  And just as the Japanese are obsessed with the ephemeral nature of cherry blossoms, and leaf changing and harvests, these yuzu kosho chips are only available from April to September 2010.  If you happen to be in Japan during this period, try a bag and let me know what you think of my favorite potato chip ever.


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