Sometimes I amuse myself by picking up random things from Chinese grocery store shelves. There are some odd sounding things out there – some of which I grew up with, and some of which are relatively new to me. I’ve freaked out friends with dried squid (or as a friend who actually likes it calls it – squid jerky). I’ve sampled many varieties of Pocky. But there is always something new from Taiwan or Japan on the shelves, or even something old that just wasn’t available here before.
On one shopping trip to T & T Supermarket, I grabbed a bag of tamago kani (direct translation is “egg crabs” but they probably mean “baby crabs”). These are dried (possibly roasted or fried, I couldn’t tell) and seasoned mini-crabs.
Cute, but at the same time slightly horrifying to think about putting into your mouth, right?
I’m used to eating odd (well, at least to Western standards) Asian food, so I wasn’t too horrified. I mean, it’s just like eating soft-shell crab or some particularly deep fried shrimp that is so crispy that you can eat the tails. Each piece of tamago kani was very crunchy, slightly sweet, and incredibly salty. Way, way too salty for my taste. And no wonder – just take a look at the ingredients:
Crab, of course. Sugar – ah so that’s where the sweetness is from. Starch, ok. Soy sauce, sure. And wait, MSG too?? Oh those crazy Japanese. Soy sauce and MSG? That’s just way too much salt for me. This is a fun item to try (and would make a good Fear Factor-type food challenge), but I wouldn’t recommend it for constant snacking unless you want your sodium levels to shoot through the roof.