Cheese has become wildly popular in parts of Asia over the last few years. Japan, in particular, has been smitten with cheese lust. The only problem is — no cows. How to make cheese without any cows, and without having to import milk at disadvantageous exchange rates? The answer — cod!
While New Yorkers may regard cod as an endangered species, or as an expensive entree in an upscale restaurant, the Japanese now regard it as a source of cheese. Indeed, the above snack represents the Frankensteinian transformation of seafood into a cheese-like substance. The package reads Cheese-Tara, the latter word meaning “codfish” in Japanese.
Indeed, the list of ingredients on the glued-on back panel reads: “Ingredients – cod fish, wheat starch, corn oil, salt, sorbitol.” Then paradoxically continues – “Allergy Information: Contains milk and wheat.” After eating several faux-lacto slivers, I’m convinced that the ingredients list is right. There is no milk in this cheese.
You’re wondering: What does it taste like? The slender stalks of oily off-white, seemingly intended to resemble string cheese, taste a hell of a lot like processed cheese–salty, slippery, and not the least fishy. Definitely of interest to the lactose intolerant, but not of much interest to vegetarians. Could we make mac and cheese with it? The jury is still out.
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Yum! Fake cheese. But please don’t eat the desiccant (left).