Cute food doesn't usually do it for me. The sole exception: images of cute animals engaging in cannibalism, like this gigantic crab on this bag of kanikko who is gleefully devouring his thumb-sized brothers and sisters. I like to think of him as some Godzilla-like monster at the manufacturer who's actually scooping them into the package whilst eating a few here and there.
I caught my baby crabs at Sakura-ya, a Japanese grocery in Forest Hills, Queens. As soon as I walked in and saw a row of bags emblazoned with that big googly-eyed fella, I knew I’d be walking out with one. It wasn’t my first experience with these salty, sweet, almost painfully crunchy treats. Years ago I bought some from Aji Ichiban in Manhattan's Chinatown and placed them in a bowl on my desk at work. What can I say, some people like offering co-workers butterscotch candies and some like messing with ’em.
As with many Japanese snacks that combine salty, fishy and sweet, kanniko are a drinking snack. So I chose the finest, and largest, Japanese beer I could find. They went great with beer though I think sake or shochu would better complement the concentrated crabbiness. The remainder of the bag is being reserved as a sake snack, as it’s one of the ingredients. In case anyone’s wondering, yes, a stray piece of crab fell into that silo of beer during the photo shoot.
Not willing to come to Queens for candied crustaceans? They’re also available at Sunrise Mart—albeit in smaller, less festive packaging—and surely other Asian markets across the country.
73-05 Austin Street, Forest Hills NY 11375 (nr. Ascan Avenue, map) 718-268-7220
29 Third Avenue, New York NY 10003; (nr. 10th Street; map) 212-598-3040