Just when you thought ice cream couldn’t get any better.

Kaki no Tane is a long-running and beloved Japanese snack. It name literally means “persimmon seeds” but they are actually salty rice crackers in the shape of persimmon seeds. Although they are often great on their own, they can also complement other snacks such as Black Thunder chocolate bars fantastically.

▼ Kaki no Tane Thunder

And now, thanks to a tip from the official Kaki no Tane Twitter account, we have yet another way to enjoy them. The simple recipe involves putting a bunch of these snacks into a vanilla monaka ice cream, which is a bar of ice cream encased in a wafer. 

The high structural integrity of the monaka makes this recipe a cinch. Just cut it in half along the crease.

Then, put in the Kaki no Tane. They seem to recommend a generous amount.

Finally, close it up!

It’s at this point that I should address a serious controversy about Kaki no Tane. As you can see in the tweet, the standard snack includes peanuts mixed in with the crackers. The presence and amount of peanuts has long been a divisive issue among Japanese people, and in 2020 a vote of over 25,000 people resulted in the company changing the cracker-peanut ratio from 6:4 to 7:3. And since then, a special ironic version of Kaki no Tane featuring all peanuts and no crackers was released to assuage peanut sympathizers.

I personally am firmly in the “peanuts suck” camp of this debate and decided to use the plain cracker-only version of Kaki no Tane for this recipe. 

I was pretty much expecting this to be a slam dunk, but I think my expectations were too high. It was definitely tasty but not quite at the level of the Kaki no Tane Black Thunder bar.

I think the problem was that Kaki no Tane are seasoned with soy sauce which among other flavors, has a distinct umami taste. When mixed with the vanilla ice cream the umami seemed disproportionately strong and not really harmonious with the other flavors.

On the other hand, my biggest concern was the hardness of all the crackers but that actually wasn’t a problem at all. They were crunchy but yielding enough that it was very easy to eat. Overall, I think if I had used a chocolate ice cream monaka, it might have been better.

This kind of experiment is a good example of the contrast effect. That’s when our senses are thrown off by contrasting things. A famous example of a visual contrast effect is that optical illusion with the checkered floor and shadow where two squares look like different shades but are actually the same.

▼ In this image A and B are the same shade of grey though they don’t look like it because the contrasting shades of the squares next to them affect how we see them.

Image: Wikipedia/Edward H. Adelson

In the same way when two contrasting tastes are put in close proximity it affects how we sense them.  For example if you add a small amount of spicy food to something sweet, it will taste sweeter. The opposite is also true in that spicy food with a touch of something sweet will seem even spicier.

It’s part of the reason salty-sweet foods are so good. Speaking of which, since Kaki no Tane are harder to come by outside Japan, I thought I would try the same thing with normal salted potato chips.

The chips were a lot less noticeable than the Kaki no Tane but the salt on them did make the ice cream sweeter as expected.

And since we were playing around with the contrast effect, for my final trick I will try some wasabi flavored Kaki no Tane. Unlike a lot of other wasabi flavored chips and crackers, these really do pack a punch of that wasabi sting. Unfortunately, these ones were only available with peanuts, so I’ll have to pick out the legumes myself and feed them to a crow or something later.

In order to get a contrast going I figured putting a single Kaki no Tane into a square of monaka would give it just enough of a sweet boost. It worked a bit, but the salty potato chips were much more effective.

Then, I tried going the other way and loading it up with wasabi crackers. This didn’t quite work either, once again because the umami soy sauce seasoning once again stuck out like a sore thumb, even overpowering the spiciness. At this point I might even begrudgingly accept that the peanuts might have helped balance things out here.

In the end, I thought the potato chips and ice cream was the best combination, but the others had their charm too proving once again that Kaki no Tane is a very versatile snack. However, it seems that much like with peanuts, it’s really important to find exactly the right balance with Kaki no Tane and ice cream as well.

Source: Twitter/@kameda_kakitane via Tokyo Bargain Mania
Photos © SoraNews24 (Unless otherwise noted)
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