Island Snacks & Treats – Kakimochi, Shredded Ika and Li Hing Mui

Snacks and treats are in vast abundance when you visit Hawai’i. The choices are endless! We mail home at least one box of snacks when we are on the islands and basically eat our way through the entire trip.

One of my favorites is the Enjoy line of snacks. This is a great option for omiyage (Japanese custom of bringing gifts to those you visit or to bring back home to friends and family from places you visit) because it is unique to Hawai’i, relatively lightweight (doesn’t add too much to your checked luggage weight limits) and reasonably inexpensive. These snacks are also easy to find at any ABC Store, Walmart, Costco, Don Quixote, Foodland, etc. on any of the islands.

 They carry a huge variety ranging across the full spectrum of exotic (li hing pickled plums and ika (dried shredded cuttlefish) to slightly exotic (I was going to say traditional, but realized that if you didn’t grow up eating a lot of this stuff, it’s probably not traditional…for example,  kakimochi (rice crackers) and wasabi peas.

Here are a few of my favorites:

miniyakko Mini Yakko and Mini Nori Maki: These are my favorites of their snacks. Tiny crunchy pillows of kakimochi (rice cracker) goodness. Perfectly bite sized (makes a great toddler snack, btw). For those not familiar with these delightful crunchy treats they are baked treats made from rice and coated in a soy sauce based glaze. The Mini Nori Maki is shaped like a tootsie roll and wrapped in nori (dried seaweed). I would eat the regular nori maki by the bag as a kid. What makes the Enjoy version of these snacks particularly unique is that they are MINIATURE versions of the regular kakimochi.  This essentially means you get more flavor and more crunch and more yummy goodness per piece! (Just so you know, I attempted to be more scientific / mathematical with my explanation, but I got too excited at the prospect of how yummy this stuff is and opted to just be excited without trying to pretend I know what I’m talking about regarding math and science.)

 Shredded Ika:ika My daughter, my cats and I all love the shredded ika (dried cuttlefish). I’m pretty sure they sell a variety of this specifically for cats in the pet stores. I will be the first to admit that it SMELLS like seafood (open the bag and the cats come running). I grew up eating this and I love it. My husband, on the other hand, does not. I would venture to say that this is an acquired taste. But stepping back to the basics for a moment – basically, a cuttlefish is a sea creature in the same family as octopus and squid.  This is a chewy, salty, slightly sweet seafood flavored treat. Think calamari, but very chewy with a stronger flavor profile.

 Li Hing Snacks: They also carry a variety of items that are coated in li hing mui powder. What is li hing? It’s a dried salted plum. Just thinking about the flavor of li hing is making my mouth water. It’s a salty, sour, yet sweet flavor . I can’t really put it into words – it’s not just a flavor, but a sensation. It is definitely a unique flavor profile. They put this stuff on EVERYTHING. Candies, dried fruits, nuts… Quite popular  amongst the locals (and wannabe locals such as myself). It is a fruit – there’s nothing to be scared of (it isn’t something weird like dried cuttlefish after all) –  so try it!

Li Hing Mui Gummi Bears

Photo courtesy of http://alikonacoffee.tumblr.com 

My mom told me about a crackseed shop located in the Ala Moana Shopping Center, but sadly, we couldn’t find it. Yes. I said CRACKSEED. My mind went to not so snacky thoughts the first time she said it, but we won’t go there… Crackseed is a term used to describe all of the crackers, nuts and snack food items such as those written about above. It might as well be its own food group if you ask me. These are supposedly quite common in Asian countries (particularly Japan and Taiwan). During my research for this post, I came across the Crackseed Center website. They DO exist! This has been added to the must visit list for my next trip. Perusing the site has made me hungry for crack. seed…. Snacks….arare… li hing gummies….

 Until next time…Aloha kākou