Yakiniku-San Taro: A Classic Fish Jerky Dagashi Snack
As I wrote before, in Japan, there are roughly 3 classifications of snacks.
One of them, “Dagashi (駄菓子)” is comprised of cheap, relatively small Japanese snacks and candies and has been a long-time favorite of children.
One primary reason why Japanese kids like such treats is that they are not only cheap but also unique, appealing, and fun.
As you can see in the articles about Dagashi that I posted in the past, there are many varieties of “Surimi (すり身)” or fish paste snacks in the genre, which includes Cut Yocchan, Kabayaki-san Taro, and Big Katsu.
Regarding Big Katsu, although the name is the abbreviation of “big cutlet”, the Japanese snack is made of minced walleye pollack and doesn’t contain meat like pork or beef.
Like Big Katsu, in the genre Dagashi, there is one more famous Surimi snack whose name includes a word that refers to a Japanese meat dish, which I picked up today for this blog article.
Yakiniku-San Taro (焼肉さん太郎)
What I bought this time is the pictured “Yakiniku-San Taro (焼肉さん太郎)”, which is one of the classic Dagashi treats that I used to eat as a child.
In fact, Yakiniku-San Taro is very cheap and only costs 10 yen (about 0.1 USD), so it is particularly popular with children in Japan.
As you may know, the word in its name, “Yakiniku (焼肉)” broadly refers to Japanese grilled meat cuisine, which is associated with beef and pork.
However, Yakiniku-San Taro is a snack made from minced fish paste and contains neither beef nor pork. Specifically, according to the article “焼肉さん太郎” on Wikipedia Japan, its main ingredient is walleye (Alaska) pollack.
Instead, the fish paste is seasoned with a Yakiniku barbeque sauce-like sauce and baked savory, and that makes the snack’s texture quite hard and tough like beef jerky.
So the more you chew on the snack, the more the flavor and umami come out, and the better it tastes.
As I mentioned above, the first ingredient of the Dagashi Yakiniku-san Taro is walleye pollack, and the other main ingredients include wheat flour and squid powder.
From the ingredient list, I think the Japanese fish jerky snack is flavored mainly with soy sauce, mirin (sweet cooking rice wine), sugar, and spices.
Although the baked Surimi snack is quite tough, it is savory and tastes pretty good to me. But since the Japanese treat is quite unique both in taste and texture, if you give it a try once, I think you will either love it or hate it.