Some years ago when I was a kid and my grandma started baking (microwaving?) the original Chex Mix during the holidays, I fell in love. I’ve always been big on snacks, salty especially, and as a Grown Up I’m quite sure I’ve never sipped a strong drink that wasn’t improved with a savory, crunchy nosh alongside, amiright? Chex Mix is synonymous with parties, with gatherings; reaching into the dish while clustered around it in lively conversation and not realizing how much I’ve eaten. A friend for bourbon in my tummy. A pal for my taste buds.
Delightedly, there are endless flavors of snack mixes featuring Chex cereal. I browse the recipes on their site. I make them. They’re always good! I mean how about Indian-spiced with coriander, cumin and mint? A sweet Chai style with cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, orange peel and vanilla? Buffalo mix with celery seed and hot sauce? One of my faves had pistachios, coconut flakes and a honey-ginger glaze, that one disappeared in a flash. This chile-lime version started out in the biggest bowl I own and was nearly gone after one of our game-night parties. I’m dying to try this cornbread mix version — um, awesome!
Recently I started recipe-testing my own Chex Mix, a Thai version. There was coconut oil in place of the butter, fish sauce for the Worcestershire, lime zest, green curry paste and palm sugar. Turmeric. It smelled just funky enough and had a good zip from the lime. There were sesame seeds, peanuts and crisp chow mein noodles.
But it just didn’t strike a chord with my taste buds. It sat around in the kitchen, uneaten.
And it was too complicated.
Last weekend Nathan and I were drinking beer and watching Drinking Buddies (good movie!) and letting the dog snuggle between us – the only thing missing was a crunchy snack! I hopped into the kitchen and pulled the ingredients that had been waiting for another test version of my Thai Chex mix. I tossed them together in a bowl with a little toasted sesame oil and sprinkled some togarashi seasoning, and we ate it.
And it was the best thing ever.
The sesame oil is the star flavor, its heady toastiness heightening each crunchy handful. Wasabi peas tingle lips just enough and since everything (except the cereal) is already salted, nothing needed a lot of dressing. Shichimi Togarashi is a mix of toasted seaweed, sesame seeds, ginger, prickly ash, roasted orange peel and ground chiles. It’s not super spicy but has an umami, robust flavor, with a hint of the sea, a noseful of ginger.
I’m glad I decided to simplify. This is the Chex mix I wanted to bring you all along, but I just got caught up in all the possibilities.
So skip the nuking/baking step all together and eat this snack mix! You’ll need good beer, though. I wish you cold have a bottle of what we were drinking, a home brew from our friend Jay that was hoppy and bright — he brewed it with ginger — really wonderful. So you’ll need an IPA.
You’ll need beer and this snack mix. And a party.
Spicy Asian Chex Mix
serves a party
- 4 cups Rice Chex
- 2 cups sesame snack sticks
- 2 cups wasabi peas
- 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon shichimi togarashi
Toss first four ingredients together in a large bowl. Drizzle lightly with sesame oil, sprinkle with togarashi and toss well to combine. Enjoy!