Translated by Hilary Keyes
Taste The Flavors Of Japan Through Potato Chips?!
Written by MATCHA
Convenient and easy to pack, Japanese potato chips come in an eye-popping variety of flavors, many of which are unique to the different regions of Japan.
When thinking of Japanese flavors, most people will automatically think of foods like sushi or sashimi, tempura or ramen, or even kaiseki cuisine. But other than these amazing dishes, there are some other incredible original foods in existence.
In a long and narrow country like Japan, with each region having its own unique climate and growing seasons, several different cuisines and food cultures have arisen.
The flavors of the various regions of Japan have been dutifully recreated and are available at most supermarkets and convenience stores through the medium of potato chips. Wouldn't you like to try these regional specialties? Let's see what flavors are out there!
1. Yuzu Pepper Flavor
Photo by Tatsuo Yamashita
Yuzu are one of the many popular varieties of citrus fruits grown in Japan. Exceptionally sour, they are far more commonly used as an ingredient or spice rather than being eaten as a fruit. Yuzu peel, which is quite flavorful, is often grated or minced and used as a garnish on a wide variety of dishes.
On the southwestern island of Japan, Kyushu, these yuzu are sold as a noted local product. Yuzu Kosho or yuzu pepper, is a flavor featuring a combination of yuzu and chili pepper that allows us to taste the refreshing sourness of the yuzu through the spice of the chili peppers.
Sold only in the Kyushu region, the yuzu kosho potato chips do not have the greasy edge to them that so many other potato chips have; instead, they have a subtle depth of flavor and leave you with a sort of refresheing aftertaste in your mouth.
Read also: Japanese Encyclopedia: Kyushu Region
2. Seto Inland Sea Lemon Flavor
Photo by Canned Muffins
The Seto Inland Sea is an inland sea located in the western part of Japan. With a temperate climate and plenty of sunny days, this area is famously known for its lemons; well over half of the lemons produced in Japan are grown in this region. For that reason, in both the Chugoku and Shikoku regions, lemon flavored potato chips are sold.
Japanese Encyclopedia: Chugoku Region
To make the seasoning for the potato chips, lemon peel is ground into a fine powder so that, when you first taste the chip, you are struck by the sharp sourness of lemon, which them melts into the savory taste of potato chips. If you eat a lot of these chips, you will soon find that that you can also taste the faint bitterness of the lemon too.
If you would like to try something interesting, add some black pepper to these chips - the flavor becomes even more exciting! Please give this a try.
3. Hokuriku's White Shrimp Flavor
The Hokuriku region, found in the center of Japan, is situated facing the Sea of Japan. This region is known for its abundant fish and seafood, of which the white shrimp are considered to be a specialty of the area. For that reason, only in Hokuriku can you purchase Hokuriku White Shrimp flavored potato chips.
Snack on these chips and you will think that you've just eaten a bowl full of deep fried shrimp tempura - the taste is so convincing you'll be wondering where your rice dish has gone.
4. Hokkaido Butter Soy Sauce Flavor
The northernmost tip of Japan, Hokkaido, accounts for more than 80 percent of the potatoes produced and shipped within Japan. Also known as a plentiful producer of dairy products, Hokkaido Butter and Soy Sauce flavored potato chips have become one of the representative flavors of the region.
Though they might be considered a bit greasy by some, the aroma is undeniably rich. Tasting very much like baked potatoes coated in butter, the soy sauce flavor isn't very strong - just a subtle accent.
Kansai and Kanto Dashi Flavors
Photo by Aan Kasman
The Kanto region is where Japan's capital and largest metropolitan area, Tokyo, is located, while the Kansai region, (also known as the Kinki region), is where you will find Osaka and Kyoto. As the popular flavors in Kanto and Kansai differ,so too do the types of potato chips sold in both regions.
Kanto Dashi Soy Sauce Flavor
Made with dashi from boiled katsuo and soy sauce, this flavoring has a somewhat strong taste to it. Though it is strong, these chips are an excellent match with water or tea.
Kansai Dashi Soy Sauce Flavor
This savory flavoring comes from katsuo and konbu kelp, and has a mild yet deep taste to it. These chips are perfect for those who want to enjoy a savory snack that doesn't taste too salty.
A Variety of Flavors: The World of Potato Chips
Dear readers, have you seen the movie "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"? In this tale, one of the main characters, Willy Wonka, creates hundreds of different and unusual varieties of chocolate that earn him world-wide fame. Given the great variety of unusual potato chips sold throughout Japan, it almost seems like this movie, doesn't it? Wouldn't you like to try some of these flavors for yourself?
Though many of these flavors are sold only in certain regions, in the convenience stores and supermarkets of larger cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, you can find most of them for sale. When you come to Japan, why not look for some of the local potato chip flavors near you?