Saturday, January 12, 2008

Mystery Food

Note: Updated below the dotted line on, January 12, to add the answer.

Click on this picture to get a good close look at this bit of sustenance.

One of my students is married to a doctor and he often receives gifts from his patients. Sometimes, she passes these gifts on to me because her husband tends to receive far more than can be consumed by her family, and she's a nice person and wants to give me nice things despite suffering some financial hardships as of late.

Most recently, she gave me the bag you see pictured on the right in the photo above. I had no idea what it was and if I had to guess just by looking at it, I'm not sure I would have been able to discern the nature of its contents. The plate on the left is one of the items after being placed in the toaster oven for a few minutes which is something she recommended I do.

I thought I'd give my readers a shot at guessing at what this is by making comments with their guesses. I'll update this post with the answer some time within the next 24 hours. Happy guessing, friends.

(Please note that any comments posted through the night Tokyo time won't be moderated for about 8 hours so there will be a delay in posting them, but they will be posted in the order they are received!)


Those living in Japan who took a guess had a distinct advantage over those who live abroad since they may have encountered this item before. That being said, though I live in Japan (as does my husband), I hadn't seen this delicacy before. My husband guessed it was some sort of dried beef and remarked that "it looks even worse in person" (than in the picture). I thought it was flayed eel.

Yes, this can be turned into what you see at the top of the page.

The picture is of dried sweet potato. Despite how bad it looks, it actually pretty much tastes just like a sweet potato, though the texture is somewhat different.


thomas ( said...

my guess: satsumaimo

mjgolli said...

To me, that which is on the plate looks like piece of thick-sliced bacon, having been overcooked.

That which is in the bag looks kinda like the liver my friend Kenny had for dinner last night.

Either way...eeeewwww.

But all things being equal, it probably tastes better than it looks.

tornados28 said...

Beef Tongue.

AlaskanGeekArchitect said...

I'm going to guess a dehydrated fruit loaf/roll of some kind. Maybe pears.

Though in all honestly the first thought that popped into my mind was "emu Jerky" but that didn't seem terribly likely.

Shawn said...

I'm no "scientist", but I'm fairly certain that's the legendary thousand-year-old-corn paste smeared and compressed into bar form. Similar to the Chinese Century Egg, the corn version of it actually has more potent (and much improved) properties. From my research (read: I ate one of the eggs and am letting the hallucinations take me where they will), thousand-year-old-corn paste can actually help you lose weight, increase bust size, make you last for hours, and, oddly enough, cure cancer. You should thank your student!

ilovepearly said...

No idea...
is it fish paste?
Meat patty?
Some kind of herbal jelly

lina said...

really? why would anyone dry up sweet potato?

mjgolli said...

Very interesting, that. I would never had guessed. Is there a specific purpose for this, or is it just a candy-like treat?

Anonymous said...

Good guessing game! Did you like it?

Shari said...

Nihonhacks: You were the only one to get it right, though I'm guessing that you've had more exposure to Japanese food than most other folks given that you have a Japanese wife. ;-)

Mjgolli: It does have a distinct "liver" look due to the shape. I'd wager the guesses would have been different had they been sliced the other way into discs and dried out. As to why it's dried, I'm guessing that it's for convenient preservation without it going bad so quickly. Sweet potatoes are hard to peel and sticky. These things are sticky, too, but they're pre-cooked. All you have to do is eat them as is so it's like having a "ready to eat", non-frozen version of it (albeit a greener-looking one).

tornados28: It does actually look like a tongue!

Alaskangeekarchitect: You were the "close but no cigar" one. Closer than me and I could see and smell it! (though they really don't have much of a smell)

Shawn: ROFL! The hubby loved that comment, too.

Ilovepearly: Good guess (I liked the herbal jelly one). BTW, I tried to access your site but it requires registering!

Lina: While there may be some specialized use, I'd guess it's just for convenience - a quick potato snack for folks on the go. ;-)

1tess: Yes, I did. Since I like sweet potato, it's pretty much just a handy way of eating it, but it is still dry like a real sweet potato...and it's a lot harder to butter up so you just have to eat it as is. Still, I'm guessing it's pretty healthy just to eat it that way. One has to be really careful not to over-toast it though or it just charred easily on the edges and can have an unpleasant taste in those spots.

Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to read, comment and guess!

thomas ( said...

If your post had been about a week earlier, I wouldn't have had any idea what it was. But we happened to buy some at the store a few days before your post, so it was fresh in my mind :)