My encounter of Okusno came about when I was researching on what were some of the most popular snacks from Thailand that are not frequently found here in US. I wanted to import these snacks and promote an interesting mix of curated collection with distinguished products for Pandan Market.
There were many innovative snacks presented but Okusno stood out with its background invention story, interesting character of the raw ingredients, and nationally recognized award winning records. You can check out the founder's story here.
Okusno is a "shrimp chin" snack. If you ask me what are shrimp chins before knowing this snack, I would have not a clue. As a foodie myself, I thought I was pretty good at recognizing shrimp body parts and have known underrated shrimp parts like shrimp tomalley, a delicious gooey bits of shrimp heads, which the western world might not have been so friendly to this part of the shrimp and many shrimp heads are often discarded.
Now, what is "shrimp chin" then? Do shrimps have chins? Well, technically no, they do not have chins but the naming convention came through the snack inventor in which she calls the part of the shrimp used in the snack as "chin" because it was under the shrimp head shell and it encompass the "tomalley" part as well as the "legs". Mind blown!
If you're still reading this, then you might have an idea of how Okusno snack might taste like. Shrimp in general has so much umami flavor packed in its exoskeleton and when you combine the tomalley with the other "under the hood" bits, you got a flavor bomb waiting to be savored.
Imagine how many shrimp heads are discarded regularly. Majority of the shrimp that you see in stores or served at the restaurants have the head removed and trashed. Okusno brings the concept of sustainability to scale in the crustacean space as it transform a part of a shrimp frequently ignored and discarded into the most delicious edible and versatile snack that can be very addictive.
The shrimp's under the head parts are peeled from the difficult to consume head shells, then battered and fried to the optimal crispiness. The ingredients are minimally processed so you'll actually see the shrimp head like outline of the snack pieces. The texture is like a grittier and crispier popcorn, and the seasoning enhances the tomalley underlying flavor so well, I thought I was eating a gourmet condiment that is plated at a Michelin star restaurant. This snack can truly stand on its own with such a deep umami flavor and as an added bonus a very appealing crunchy texture.
The thing is, there's only a small quantity in each snack package. But if you think about it, the handful of shrimp pieces is actually dozens of whole shrimps which definitely got me thinking of how many shrimps had to be processed in order to acquire this amount. Either way, this snack is truly amusing and touts many health benefits as well as sustainability points so give it a try and let me know!
I did mention that this snack is versatile, especially when it's this preciously packaged in small quantity, I used it as topping for dishes to stretch its utility. It's definitely great with plain rice or fried rice like furikake, and I've also topped salads and soup for that gourmet touch.
As for the health benefits, this product is Non-GMO, uses Thai white shrimp only with guaranteed local sourcing, is high in calcium, not oily, 0% transfat, and in one package you get twice as much calcium as a small carton of milk. I guess it's nice to know what I'm eating sounds healthy. But heck, I just like it because it tastes good! Who's in with me here?
Check out available Okusno products here.