Shelf Life: Strange seafood snacks

By Wynter Holden

Don't get me wrong, I love seafood. Feed me a chilled shrimp cocktail or crisp crab cakes with orange remoulade and I'll purr with delight. But I did a double-take when I saw this odd pair of snack foods at my local Asian market.

My first shock was finding Squid Shreds in the candy aisle. Yes, you read that right. The candy aisle. There on the package was a happy red-eyed squid, pleading for me to cannibalize his brothers and sisters. Creepy. Yes, I've had calamari, but let's be honest. You could bread and fry cardboard and it would taste good. The thought of consuming plain dried squid, on the other hand, sounds about as appealing as downing a mouthful of wooden boat shavings, barnacles and all.

Something tells me I'm not far off...

In Southeast Asia, squid shreds are consumed as a protein booster, like beef jerky. They're also served in lieu of peanuts at many bars. I can only imagine the blood that would spill if a local barfly stuck his hand in the peanut bowl and pulled out a wad of stringy tentacles.

The only possible reason I could see for snacking on squid is that it's healthier than chips or crackers -- except the stuff that's packaged and sold in stores is loaded with MSG and sugar. Blows that theory!

Next up is Meow brand prawn crackers, which I spotted in the snack aisle tucked between taro root chips and pretzels. Obviously, the marketing gurus at Meow didn't realize a cartoon pussy on a big bag of seafood-flavored crackers just screams 'cat treats.' I was tempted to pick up a bag for my roommate's tabby.

They are in fact for human consumption, and are usually served with dip. Want to make your own prawn crackers? Stick a bunch of the squiggly sea creatures (cooked, of course) in a blender and liquefy. Blend the prawn mush with tapioca flour, add salt and pepper to taste and fry spoonfuls in oil until crispy.

Tempting, but I think I'll just stick with the old-fashioned potato chip.