By Cara Fasone
Watching movies at the theater is one of my favorite pastimes. I always bring a purse so I can sneak in my favorite cinema snack, kakimochi. These brown, soy sauce-flavored, sometimes seaweed-wrapped, rice crackers may sound like an unreal movie treat, but they are totally ono -- delish -- with or without popcorn.
Mixed bag of kakimochi arare
Photo by Cara Fasone
Kakimochi arare sometimes called "mochi crunch" was introduced by Japanese plantation workers in the 1900s and is one of Hawaii’s favorite snack foods. The bite-sized crackers are yummy sprinkled with a little bit of li hing mui (dried plum) powder or even baked into a chocolate chip cookie.
For me, the best way to have kakimochi is with popcorn. The contrast of the airy and buttery popcorn mixed with the salty crunch of arare is as complimentary as peanut butter and jelly.
Even on a Netflix night, I bust open my stash of arare (pronounced ah-rah-ray). My favorite way to have my popcorn is Hurricane style; buttered popcorn, mochi crunch, with furikake (dried seaweed flakes, pronounced foo-ree-kah-kay) all over it. You can make it yourself or buy the Hurricane Popcorn microwaveable popcorn mixes made by Hawaiian Popcorn Company with everything included, like Orville Redenbacher on the mainland.
Snuck in some kakmochi arare and furikake in the theater :)
Photo by Cara Fasone
I usually don’t mind getting elbow deep in the bag and having my entire forearm covered in butter and seaweed. But recently I discovered a new trick; I use chopsticks! Sidenote: Chopsticks also prevent Cheetos fingers!
Most Hawaiian locals have munched on mochi crunch since they began eating solid foods. But the love for kakimochi might just be an acquired one, because a lot of people who haven’t grown up on it, need an extra push.
It was only when I moved to the mainland and my roommate covered her nose, did I realize "kakimochi breath” was a thing. But others I know on the mainland try it and get hooked. They even sell kakimochi and arare at Trader Joe’s and nori seaweed sheets at Costco on the mainland.
Whether I’m catching the latest movie in the theater or Redboxing at home, I am pouring a bag of arare in my popcorn. It’s a tradition I never paid attention to until I got homesick. Now I realize how special it was when my aunty would stop at Long’s Drugs before a movie to buy a bag of arare. It is a custom that is uniquely Hawaiian and a must for me now. In each little cracker is a reminder of home; an easy trip back to the islands.
What do you like to eat kakimochi with?