Hawaii Food: Arare

arare isopeanut
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Hawaii’s got a very mixed bag when it comes to the types of snacks we love, thanks to the many cultures that have made the islands their home over several centuries. The colors, sounds and flavors of their mother countries traveled with them to Hawaii, becoming a part of the local culture that’s still enjoyed today.A colorful mix of arare is packed with different flavors of Japan. Disclaimer: Shells not for eating.

One in particular can be found mixed with popcorn, covered in li hing mui or chocolate or all by its lonesome. Arare (ah-DAH-day), a dry roasted rice cracker from Japan, has almost become a staple in Hawaii’s snacking repertoire. Made from glutinous rice (sticky rice) and doused in soy sauce, arare (also known as mochi crunch or kakimochi) has a salty crunch to every bite.

The tasty snack comes in a variety of shapes, colors and flavors that can be bought at stores by the bag or by the jar. Arare is named after snow pellets because the smaller ones look similar in size and shape to snow (hina arare). Some are wrapped in dried nori seaweed (norimaki arare) to give it an extra crisp taste while others are filled with peanuts (kaki no tane). Mixing arare with li hing mui or covering with chocolate are examples of how Hawaii put a twist on the traditional Japanese snack.

My favorite has got to be the red nori iso peanut, which has a lightly sweetened crisp cracker shell and a peanut inside. A few summers ago, we did a road trip across the U.S. and made sure to bring a bag to snack on; we should have actually brought three or four bags because we ended up having to ration our only bag like we were trapped on a deserted island! Arare is great for those long drives around the island, in the movies, on the beach and at home. Pack them in your carry-on to take back with you and to enjoy on the plane and all year long.The earthy red color of iso peanuts sticks out in any bag of arare.

Japanese usually ate arare when they celebrated the Doll Festival (Hinamatsuri) on March 3. It’s better known as Girl’s Day in Hawaii. This is when the special colored arare (like pink, yellow, green and blue) can be found between January and March in preparation for the festivities.

It takes about seven days to make arare and includes several steps – cooling, aging, drying and roasting. The rice then gets milled into a powder and steamed into a sticky dough. The dough’s then formed into shapes, dipped in some soy sauce and dried. Popular Hawaii brands you’ll see are Enjoy, Tamoe Brand and Big/Mini Pounder. Get in the mix and try arare today!

Sources: Suresave.com and Wikipedia

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