Name: Marco Polo Brand Shrimp Snacks
Origin: Chino, California
Found at: 99 Ranch, Irvine
Tapioca Flour, Shrimp, Eggs, Salt, Sugar, Vegetable Oils (Soybean, and/or Corn and/or Cotton Seed Oils, with TBHQ to Protect Flavor), Torula Yeast, Dextrose, Tomato Solids, Monosodium Glutamate, Onion Powder, Spices, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Extractives of Paprika, Corn Flour, Corn Starch, Citric Acid and Silicon Dioxide.
Why I Bought It: There's never a moment when there isn't an opened bag of Marco Polo Brand Shrimp Snacks in my pantry. Generally called krupuk (or cracker), these are, for lack of a better term, the Indonesian crouton. You mix it up in salads, particularly a salad called gado-gado, which is arguably the national salad of Indonesia.
Preferably though, if you were to use it for this purpose, you should get the Original flavor, which has none of the superfluous flavoring powders. Cheese flavor has no place in gado-gado.
Hard core Indonesian cooks would make these themselves. They sell the uncooked krupuk in some Asian markets. Raw, they're hard as poker chips and inedible. A careful fry in hot oil puffs them up to the lightness of foam. Lazier people (me) just buy these. Heck, I don't even wait for the salad.
These, like all good krupuks are crispy, ultra-light, and tasting mildly of shrimp. They're slightly oily, slightly rich. Eating them by themselves does make you wickedly thirsty though. A frosty cold beer would work perfectly here. But the gado-gado would be better.
Before becoming an award-winning restaurant critic for OC Weekly in 2007, Edwin Goei went by the alias “elmomonster” on his blog Monster Munching, in which he once wrote a whole review in haiku.