5 Famous Japanese Dagashi Snacks using Surimi Fish Paste
“Dagashi (駄菓子)” is a snack genre unique to Japan, which is mostly made up of so-called junk foods. In fact, the Dagashi treats are so cheap, being sold for 10 (about 0.1 USD) to 100 yen (about 1 USD), that they are popular with children.
Dagashi has several centuries of history and is said to have its roots in the snack foods that were made with cheap ingredients, such as cereals and starch syrup, in the Edo Period (Edo: 1603 to 1868), and they were enjoyed among commoners.
5 Japanese Surimi Snacks to Try
In modern times, Dagashi comes in numerous different varieties and each is quite unique. Among others, the ones using “Surimi (すり身)” or ground fish meat are especially popular among children.
There are quite a few Surimi Dagashi snacks, out of which, today let me introduce 5 famous products.
1. Kabayaki-San Taro (蒲焼さん太郎)
First off, “Kabayaki-San Taro (蒲焼さん太郎)” is a Dagashi snack I used to buy a lot in my childhood, together with other similar Surimi snacks, and its price is even now 10 yen.
As you may know, “Kabayaki (蒲焼)” usually refers to grilled Unagi eel or Unagi no Kabayaki, but the main ingredient of this Dagashi is walleye pollack.
Kabayaki-San Taro is a kind of fish jerky snack with a tough texture, which makes kids savor the taste for quite some time.
Since this Surimi snack is flavored with mirin (sweet cooking rice wine), soy sauce, and Shichimi Togarashi, it has a savory salty-sweet taste associated with Unagi no Kabayaki.
2. Big Katsu (ビッグカツ)
“Big Katsu (ビッグカツ)” is one of the most popular Dagashi varieties. Although “Katsu (カツ)” is the Japanese word for “cutlet” whose main ingredient is usually pork, beef, or chicken, this big “Katsu” is also made with walleye pollack.
With a crispy deep-fried coating, seasoned with chicken extract, curry powder, and Tonkatsu sauce, this cutlet snack isn’t fishy at all, tastes pretty good.
3. Yakiniku-San Taro (焼肉さん太郎)
As you can see in the picture above, the Dagashi “Yakiniku-San Taro (焼肉さん太郎)” is the same type of Surimi snack as Kabayaki-San Taro. It’s pretty tough, and the more you chew on it, the more the umami comes out and the better it tastes.
Although “Yakiniku (焼肉)” refers to the Japanese version of Korean barbecue, the first ingredient of this snack is also walleye pollack. Instead, the baked fish paste is brushed with a savory sauce, which gives the snack a Yakiniku taste.
4. Cut Yocchan (カットよっちゃん)
“Cut Yocchan (カットよっちゃん)“, also known as “Yocchan Ika (よっちゃんイカ)”, is one of the best Dagashi snacks using fish Surimi, which has been widely enjoyed among children for several decades.
The word “Ika (イカ)” means squid in Japanese, and one of the main ingredients of Cut Yocchan is squid powder.
With a soft chewy texture, this Japanese treat is characterized by the vinegary taste that comes from its primary seasoning “Sanbaizu (三杯酢)” vinegar sauce.
5. Sudako-San Taro (酢だこさん太郎)
However, unlike Kabayaki-San Taro and Yakiniku-San Taro, this snack is wet and limp because of the main seasoning, vinegar.
“Sudako (酢だこ)” refers to a vinegared octopus dish, but the ingredient of Sudako-San Taro doesn’t include octopus at all. In place of that, this Dagashi uses fish Surimi.