Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Random Asian Salty Snacks & Beer Pairing

Have you ever been into an Asian grocery store and been intrigued by packages of things you have little to no idea of what they are? We make periodic trips to our favorite, Hong Phat out on SE 82nd, to stock up on pantry staples and are drawn to the salty snacks aisle where some bags' contents are understandable through pictures and/or English labels while others remain a mystery. After our recent pairing with coffee creamers, grabbing some random salty snacks from Hong Phat didn't seem too odd.

Pool of Snacks

  • Lay's 2-in-1 Prawn & Salsa
  • Boy Bawang Cornick Salt & Vinegar
  • Oishi Prawn Crackers
  • Powers for Easy Life Rice Crackers with Tomato
  • Want Want Natori Snack

As we were inspecting the bags more closely before opening we noticed that we had ended up with an unintentional geographical assortment - two from China, two from the Philippines and one from Thailand.

We haven't seen Lay's 2-in-1 in this country but upon opening discovered that the two seasoning flavors, prawn and salsa, weren't combined onto each chip. Instead the larger, redish chips were prawn flavored and the smaller, greenish chips were salsa (verde) flavored. The prawn flavor being very pronounced was off putting for a couple of those in our group but made for an interesting combination with the flavors and carbonation in Saison Dupont and helped to balance the overt maltiness of Old Speckled Hen. The salsa flavored chips were easier to pair, going well with Heretic Lager for a mild Mexican-ish pairing. When eaten with Culmination Sour Flower the green onion of the chip came out a la onion ramen.

Boy Bawang Cornick Salt & Vinegar appeared from the picture on the label to be similar to corn nuts and indeed they were. Their flavor profile was strong enough to stand up to the hops in Breakside Wanderlust and made for solid bar snacking material. They were similarly good with AleSmith Nut Brown and like the Lay's 2-in-1, were able to balance the maltiness in this beer.

Oishi Prawn Crackers were not nearly as prawn-powerful as the red chips in the Lay's bag and found partners in lighter drinking options including coffee, Heretic Lager and Cascadia Granny Smith cider. The cider made the prawn flavor more pronounced but even the prawn-averse in our group enjoyed the light, easy pairing.

Powers for Easy Life Rice Crackers with Tomato easily had the best name of the group although the contents of the bag were probably the least enjoyable. We settled on a description of a salty version of breakfast cereal, either Corn Pops or a mild version of Capt'n Crunch. Although we have paired beer with cereal, this salty hybrid had a hard time finding a partner. Saison Dupont seemed to be the "best" by making the snack less cereal tasting. All of the other beers as well as the cider accentuated the sweetness, resulting in flavors ranging from chocolate Sugar Pops to Apple Jacks.

Want Want Natori Snack ---> had the second best name but definitely the best illustration on the back of the bag, giving us hopes that these were going to be The Snack. What we found upon opening the bag were sticks that looked like battered french fries but had a very mild flavor reminiscent of those crunchy chow mein noodles we've all had atop a Chinese-ish dish. Not surprising, both the mild Saison Dupont and the Cascadia Granny Smith made for appropriate pairings. 

Thanks again to Chris, Mag, Paul, beertender David and others who were willing to go along with our wacky pairings once again!

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