By Request
Betty Shimabukuro

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Tricky okoshi is
worth a second try

Okoshi, the Japanese puffed-cereal snack, sounds easy. Melt butter, stir in sugar, pour over rice cereal.

But after a recipe ran here last month, two things became clear: First, people were struggling with the recipe; second, lots of people REALLY wanted to make it, so further explanation was definitely justified.

Apologies to anyone who invested in a box of puffed wheat or rice and ended up with a kitchen covered in stray grains but no okoshi. Let's try again.

The original recipe called for 10 cups of cereal, which conveniently uses up a whole box. But that quantity is difficult to work with. I've retested it at a half-portion and filled out the instructions to spell things out. It's still a bit tricky, but it does make a good, light okoshi.

Once you get the hang of it, you can use the rest of the box of cereal, perhaps adding more peanuts or more sauce, to taste.

Perfectly shaped bars will come only with practice. For now, settle for a random, homemade look.


5 cups puffed wheat or rice cereal (see note)
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
3/4 block butter
3/4 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Set out a large bowl, large cookie sheet and a spatula. Coat all 3 with cooking oil spray. Set out a small bowl of ice water.

Spread cereal and peanuts in a pan and place in oven.

Melt butter over medium heat, then add sugar. Stir continuously. The butter will brown slightly and the sugar will melt into a clear liquid. As you stir, the substances will combine to form a smooth caramel-like sauce. This will take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Quickly remove cereal and peanuts from oven and pour into greased bowl. Stir sauce again, then drizzle quickly over cereal mix. Stir with greased spatula to coat cereal. Speed is off the essence here; the sauce hardens quickly and will become difficult to handle. If possible, have someone stir while you pour and scrape the pot of all the sauce.

Turn cereal onto greased cookie sheet and use hands to press mixture flat and push in sides to form a firm block, about 1 inch thick. If mixture is hot to touch, dip fingers in ice water so you can keep working. Some cereal will escape (and probably fall on the floor); can't help that.

Cut or break into pieces while still warm.

Nutritional information unavailable.

Note: The common brand of puffed cereal is Quaker Oats. It is not found in all supermarkets, but I did find it at Daiei.

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