Shanghai is filled with fusion foods geared towards the local palate with some proving appetizing, while others are pants-crappingly terrifying. Throughout this Halloween season, we’re trying the most hyped (okay, hyped by laowai) Frankenfoods to see if they taste as scary as people claim.
Unlike many Lay’s flavors, spicy green peppercorn fish isn’t really terrifying in and of itself – on the contrary, it’s something I really enjoy in its true form. But as Lay’s has proved, chip interpretations of such complex dishes can be disastrous. And condensing something as multilayered as fish with green peppercorns into a chip seemed akin to successfully playing Beethoven’s 9th on the washboard.
Fortunately, they successfully play Beethoven’s 9th on the washboard. You open the bag and you’re met with a hot, nutty blast of heat and spice that makes you tear up as if you were holding your face over a fish hotpot. When you crunch a chip, you immediately feel the token peppercorn tingle on your lips, which evokes pressing a vibrating cellphone against them. And the spiciness is no less atomic than you’d expect.
The only missing component seemed to be the fish, which tasted so faint it could’ve been in my head. However, the strong backup chorus of chilies and peppercorns makes it easy to imagine. Lay’s Spicy Green Peppercorn Fish Flavor is the closest thing to the real thing since the Numb and Spicy Hotpot Flavor – so close that if you don’t like it, you might not enjoy a lot of Sichuan dishes.
Though are we the only ones who think it a bit ominous that Lay’s seems to tackle more complex flavors every year, as if they’re trying to get a monopoly on all the world’s food. It starts with green peppercorn and fish chips, moves up to chips flavored like whole Thanksgiving dinners, then twenty-course French wine-pairing menus. Finally, in some dystopian future, before you get into your cryogenic sleep pod, you pop a Lay’s chip and don’t need any food for a whole month.
You can find Lay’s Spicy Peppercorn Fish Flavor at Tesco and Carrefour for 5-7RMB.
See a complete list of our Freaky Frankenfoods series here.
Benjamin Cost is Shanghaiist’s Food Editor. Email tips, recommendations, and news updates on Shanghai’s dining scene to [email protected].