When it comes to snacking, peanuts are a top-tier classic that has been loved for a long time. But have you ever heard of Japanese peanuts? They are bigger bite-sized peanuts that offer different flavors and texture from regular ones. In this article, we'll delve into what makes Japanese peanuts different from regular peanuts, the intriguing story behind their name, and the secret behind their creation. So kick your feet back, relax, and start reading.
Japanese peanuts have an interesting history because they actually originate from Mexico, not Japan. In the 1940s, Yoshigei Nakatani, a Japanese immigrant living in Mexico, created Japanese peanuts. He had moved to Mexico in 1932 at the age of 22 to make something of himself. He specifically told his mother that his goal was to be successful, and if he did not become successful, he would not return. Yoshigei worked in El Nuevo Japón (New Japan), a company that made pearl buttons owned by a Japanese businessman.
In 1941, war broke out in Mexico and affected many businesses; by the next year, the company closed, and Yoshigei became jobless. To support his Spanish wife and kids, he decided to try making candies with his wife in 1943. Turns out, back in Japan, he learned how to make candy as an apprentice. He started by making “muégano,” a Mexican candy that is basically crispy caramelized square dough. It sold so well in his neighborhood that he added another Mexican candy called “oranda,” which was a longer, salted version of muégano. The candy was so popular that he was encouraged to make his own custom candy.
Clearly, Yoshigei had that Midas touch for candy because when he decided to create Japanese peanuts using peanuts and soy sauce, the demand was so much that he stopped selling from home and got a stall in the market. Making muégano, oranda, and Japanese peanuts took up a lot of space, so the family had to rent another place on the same street. By this time, he had created what would seem like a full-blown candy factory because he would sell directly to both customers and wholesalers.
So, in the 1950s, Yoshigei officially named his small company Nipon in respect of his home country and created branded packaging for his candies. The company was successful for a long time, but in 2017, La Costeña, a large food industry, bought it. Yoshigei was able to fulfill his promise to his mother by becoming successful and gifting the world Japanese peanuts. Unfortunately, he did not acquire a patent for his invention, so many other companies make their own version of Japanese peanuts, but Nipon peanuts are the most popular in Mexico.
Initially, Yoshigei worked with what he had to create Japanese peanuts. He originally wanted to add rice flour because it was used to make many snacks in Japan, but it was hard to come across. That is why he settled for wheat flour, soy sauce, sugar, and peanuts. Today, a lot of ingredients like wheat flour and rice flour, sugar, salt, soy sauce, and potato starch can be mixed together to make the dough for Japanese peanuts.
The coating typically consists of rice flour and wheat flour, which creates the thick and crispy texture that coats the peanut.
The magic happens with the addition of many seasonings. These can include paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, soy sauce, wasabi, shrimp powder, and a dash of sweetness from sugar. The specific blend of seasonings can vary by brand and recipe.
At the heart of every Japanese peanut is, of course, the peanut itself. The flavorful coating enhances the natural nuttiness of the peanut.
At first glance, Japanese peanuts may appear similar to their regular counterparts, but there are major differences between regular American peanuts and Japanese peanuts. When you think of peanut taste, your mind immediately goes to sweet or salty. You would be right because regular peanuts are seasoned with simple flavors like salt and sugar, but Japanese peanuts take seasoning to a whole new level.
They are coated with wheat flour, not regular flour and soy sauce. This results in a complex and bold flavor that's savory, slightly sweet, and different from regular peanuts. Additionally, Japanese peanuts also have a thicker, more substantial coating compared to regular peanuts. This makes it look slightly larger and smoother than regular peanuts.
Japanese peanuts have a bold, savory flavor. The thick, wheat coating adds to the nutty taste of the peanut, and the hint of soy sauce gives a sweet umami kick. Japanese peanuts also have a subtle touch of sweetness because one of the ingredients is sugar. This sweetness balances the bold seasonings, creating a harmonious taste that keeps you coming back for more.
In conclusion, Japanese peanuts offer a culinary adventure that goes beyond ordinary snacking. Their thick and flavorful coating, bold seasonings, and unique taste make them a beloved snack worldwide. So, the next time you're craving a snack that's both savory and slightly sweet, reach for a handful of Japanese peanuts.
Satisfy your cravings and experience the joy of authentic Japanese snacks. Don't miss out on this delectable adventure by buying a snack pack from Japan – to start your Zenpop subscription today!
This article was originally written by our freelance writer Umm-Kulthum Abdulkareem and edited by us.