Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hot enough for you?

What's in worcestershire and pickapeppa sauces, some kinds of chutney, and me?


Tamarind candy

But what's in me, specifically is Asian Best Hot Tamarind Candy from Eastland Food Corporation (product of Thailand). That's tamarind, chili, sugar, and salt. Because why not top off an extremely hot day with a snack of spicy candy?

Tamarind candy

Though this box has been languishing in my snack jail, the tamarind treat was actually introduced to me a few months ago by David, a coworker. After a cursory test, I subsequently spotted and bought some for myself (and Dion, who was quite taken with them) in a small Asian grocery in Beacon, NY.

Purchased mostly as a novelty, these guys are growing on me. Initially, I found the chewy texture and unfathomable scent to be off-putting. I'm not a big raisin fan (which is a bit of an understatement), and the chewiness sometimes reminds me of raisins or dates. The salt and sugar granules on the outside of each piece help to counteract this yielding and bounce the flavor from sweet to salty and back again, though I prefer the hot and salty angles to the sweet one. Then, after a couple of chews, the heat of the chili starts to spread out through the mouth and conquers the fruitiness coming through. Speaking of chewing -- pit alert! Don't bite down too enthusiastically. There's a dark reddish seed in the middle of each piece.

I find these candies are best experienced by consuming more than one (recommended serving size given on the box is 5 pieces), as the heat lingers and layers with each subsequent piece, but invite you to eat just one at a time, and to give yourself time. Don't be in a hurry to eat the next one and the next one and the next one. Go slowly and snack thoughtfully. I'm still meditating on my spicy tamarind experience. Who knows what little mysteries of flavor and texture may unfold for you?

Note: If you're trying other kinds of tamarind candy, watch out for pulparindo's possible lead content! Anyone know if this has been resolved?


la duchessa said...

i am enormous fan of snack-shopping in chinatown. the hong kong supermarket (east broadway and allen) sells this dried squid snack that, while not for everybody, i find completely addicting.

don't even get me started on the abundant fruity chewy awesomeness in these stores!

Jennette said...

Squid snacks would be new to me, and potentially hard for me to eat -- I don't know what to believe in the debate over cephalopod intelligence -- but I definitely have some more snack shopping to do in Chinatown.

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