Fried peas are a timeless snack undeniably associated with the East, made with marrowfat peas and flavored with wasabi powder or sometimes plain. In China we have access to these flavors and more, resulting in an interesting examination for our locally-sourced taste buddies.

Zhuangweifu Mala Peas (RMB 5)
“More like a bulbous spicy pea nugget. I love the mouth numbing, and the thick crunch.”
“This would be a great road trip snack for keeping you awake at the wheel.”
“So spicy and addictive, it’s like eat, drink, repeat. Be advised, wash your hands before contact with your eyes or sexual partner.”

Kam Yuen Spicy Flavor Peas (RMB 6)
“Not spicy at all. There’s more of a slight barbecue taste, and by slight we mean minuscule.”
“Copious amounts of peas in each little baggie trying their best to be barbecue-flavored Doritos.”
“Easy to eat because of the addicting crunch and fake BBQ flavor, but lacks the pizzazz of the mala ones.”

Jiangnan Meishi BBQ Peas (RMB 4)
“Kind of like barbecue-flavor Fritos made with peas, not as impossible as it may sound.”
“A crunchy, greasy sheen topped with MSG barbecue powder. Probably not ideal for those who shy away from processed foods.“
“This could be a staple part of your diet if you completely relied on convenience stores for all of your nutritional needs.”

Jiangnan Meishi Roasted Garlic Peas (RMB 4)
“If my eyes were closed I could tell it was garlic flavored. A good way to achieve awesome garlic breath.”
“A bag of these little peas a day to keep the vampires away, although maybe the whole vampire and garlic allergy is a myth.”
“I would rub the powder on my neck and arms to prevent mosquito bites.”

Shangzhen Wasabi Peas (RMB 8.5)
“These are tasty but they’re not giving me that painful tickle that I desire in a wasabi flavored pea.”
“Super ordinary, and lacking in the spice department but kind of addictive.”
“I could rub my eyes after eating these without too much discomfort, which isn’t ideal.”

Hengkang Garlic Peas (RMB 8.5)
“These are really tiny and without any obvious flavoring. They don’t taste bad but I could easily leave it for the weasles.”
“What they lack in taste, they make up for in quantity. Which would be a great tagline for a top-40 radio station.”
“The flavor is instantly forgettable, but they taste fine. Maybe more natural than the other varieties.”

The best by far were the spicy mala peas from Zhuangweifu. These you can barely throw down your throat without reaching for a cold beverage. Maybe too spicy for people who shy away from heat, but after a couple you will learn to suffer through this deliciously stimulating snack. Garlic is also a good choice for those who prefer that strong synthetic, MSG-laden flavor to satiate your desperate snacking.

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Photos: Ken

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