Sprucing Up Your Holiday Spreads With Asian Snacks & Sweets
Color, crunch—and surprise!
Entertaining guests for the holidays is no easy feat. There’s the challenge of creating a menu with main courses, sides and desserts, not to mention what nibbles to serve while the bird is roasting in the oven.
Add a fresh take and an element of surprise to your holiday hor d’oeuvres and desserts by serving unique Asian snacks and sweets—tasty tidbits that also serve as great conversation starters.
1. CALBEE: SEAWEED & SALT POTATO CHIPS
Japan’s most popular snack brand, Calbee, may be best known for Shrimp Chips, but its other creations are just as ubiquitous in Asian markets. Calbee’s Seaweed & Salt Potato Chips are a unique take on the light and crispy Lay’s Classic, but packed with umami via soy sauce and seaweed. The chips are best enjoyed without any dips, as they’re flavorful enough on their own. If you want to do a trio of Calbee chips, consider adding the Honey Butter and Hot & Spicy varieties. Available at 99 Ranch.
2. LOTTE: CHOCO PIE
The popular South Korean brand has been making Choco Pies—marshmallow sandwiched between two slices of biscuit cake and coated in chocolate—since 1979. Think of these treats as a blend between American MoonPies and Ding Dongs. Over the years, Lotte has come out with clever flavors, such as green tea and black sugar milk tea. Why not try them all? Available at 99 Ranch.
3. MAE PLOY: SWEET CHILI SAUCE
You may recognize this sweet chili sauce, often served at Thai restaurants as a dip for fried egg rolls and barbecued chicken. For an easy-to-make appetizer, blanket the mildly spicy sauce over a block of softened cream cheese and pair it with crackers. It becomes a compelling salty, sweet and creamy combination. Or use to baste chicken satays. Available at 99 Ranch, Farm Boy, Bangluck Market
4. SHAO MEI: BROWN SUGAR BOBA ICE CREAM BAR
Taiwanese company Shao Mei created a viral sensation when it debuted its Brown Sugar Boba Ice Cream Bars a few years ago. A creamy vanilla base is covered in swirls of brown sugar and dotted with tapioca pearls that are chewy to the bite. It’s a formidable dessert for kids and adults alike. Available at 99 Ranch and Seafood City Supermarket.
5. IRVINS: SALTED EGG POTATO CHIPS
Irvin Gunaman, a Singaporean restaurateur, created a salted egg sauce consisting of 30-day brined egg yolks, curry leaves (no relation to curry powder), and bird’s eye chili peppers and coated it over potato chips. The result of this unique concoction? An incredibly crispy chip packed with salty and creamy goodness. Irvins Salted Egg Potato Chips and their Salted Egg Cassava chips are good entry points to the brand, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try their Salted Egg Salmon Skin and Spicy Salted Egg Salmon Skin options. Available at 99 Ranch and Seafood City Supermarket.
6. GLICO: POCKY
It’s easy to quickly get through a box of Glico’s Pocky. The Japanese thin biscuit sticks, which have been around since 1966, are lacquered in a variety of creams and chocolates, from strawberry to matcha to crushed almonds & chocolate. A pretty way to display: Drop the sticks in small mason jars, vases or silver cups and make a mini buffet of the different flavors for guests to try. These versatile sweets can be served as a light snack before or after dinner, or even to jazz up a bowl of ice cream. Available at 99 Ranch, Seafood City Market and Bangluck Market.
7. HUANG FEI HONG: SPICY PEANUTS
A perfect accompaniment to a frosty pint of beer, Huang Fei Hong’s Spicy Peanuts take nuts to a new level. Popular throughout China, these savory and lightly sweet nuts are flavored with a Sichuan peppercorn-based seasoning called mala that leaves a slightly numbing spice sensation. The peanuts are grown in Jiaodong Peninsula in Shandong province, where the terroir produces flavorful and crunchy nuts that beat Planters on any given day. Available at 99 Ranch.