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Snack Shouts: Pam Mandel on salted 'kacang puteh' crisped rice treats
A bite-size interview with an acclaimed travel writer
Hello, Snackers. We're trying something new today: a bite-size interview about a specific snack. Five questions—nice and short, unexpectedly delightful, easy to digest, a snack for your brain.
I’m hoping to make this a recurring feature (once a month, maybe more?) with an assortment of interesting people discussing interesting snacks (or snacking circumstances). For example: a crane operator’s experiences eating tinned sardines at the top of a construction site, a chef confessing a secret Hot Pockets fixation, a random person’s ode to a snack found only in one public market in Andorra.
1. What snack is on your mind today?
Salted ‘kacang puteh’ crisped rice treats. It’s a Rice Krispie treat, but you coat the marshmallows in sauteed garam masala before you melt them. In addition to the cereal, you add a bunch of savory snack mix. The recipe called for Indian snack mix but my market didn't have that, so I went with a rice cracker mix instead—seaweed wrapped little crackers, wasabi peas, and some other crunchy, spicy bits.
2. Describe the taste for us.
Oh. My. God. Make this snack. It’s got the chewy crunch of a Rice Krispie treat but there’s this complexity from the garam masala. I wasn't sure if I would like the combination of that spice profile with sweet, but it works so well. I would get these hits of wasabi, or a taste of the sweet chili glaze on the crackers...it’s so good. I had to put them in the freezer so as not to eat them all.
3. Why did it feel like the right snack for the moment?
I was reading the Washington Post and saw a whole spread on salty/sweet snacks [this recipe is by Gan Chin Lin]. I was in an “eating my feelings” space but I also wanted to make something; I find cooking very relaxing. Everything in the spread aside from the kacang puteh was too time-consuming—I wanted to make a snack and eat it, fast. This checked the boxes. Something easy but also new to me and interesting. It took me longer to buy the ingredients than it did to make the snack.
4. What's another snack you've been craving lately or would like to try for the first time?
I want to make this again, this time with the crunchy/spicy Indian snack mix, or some other kind of snack mix. What if I made it with wasabi potato chips and used furikake and sesame oil instead of garam masala and coconut oil? What if I put spicy Taki chips in it? I’m kind of obsessed with the possibilities, from basic things like Chex Mix to...the sky's the limit!
5. What's your ideal midnight snack?
Breakfast cereal eaten right out of the box. Preferably Cracklin’ Oat Bran, though I'm not allowed to have that stuff in the house. It should be listed as a controlled substance.
If you have a suggestion for future Snack Shouts or general feedback on this new feature, please leave it in the comments below or email me directly at email@example.com.
I’m always looking for new ideas for my deep-dive research posts, so please get in touch if you have suggestions on that front, too.
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Go treat yourself to a snack right now. Because it’s already been a long week and you deserve it.