Recently, the social media, including Indonesia, went viral discussing one of the snacks from China, Latiao. Generally, Chinese people consume Latiao as a snack, which became popular around the 90s. Its origins developed in Henan Province, China. Latiao has a long stick-like shape and is red with a spicy taste. Latiao went viral because this snack has a savory, tangy flavor that is addictive.
Latiao is made from wheat flour, kinako (roasted soybean flour), and chili oil. The three ingredients will be mixed with water, salt, sugar, flavorings, vegetable oil, and several other ingredients and then heated at high temperatures.
Even though it is made from vegetable ingredients, there are several viral Latiao ingredients that we need to pay close attention to. What are the critical points behind the delicacy of the spicy Latiao?
First, sugar is a flavor enhancer. The critical point lies in the bleaching process, which often uses activated carbon. Regarding materials, activated carbon can come from coconut shells, sawdust, coal, or animal bones. If you use vegetable ingredients, there is no need to doubt the halal status. However, the activated carbon comes from animals. In that case, it must be ensured that it comes from halal animals slaughtered according to Islamic law. Generally, animal bone sources often used as activated carbon are pigs and cows.
Second, oil. In general, oils come from plants, although sometimes you can use animal oils to give a tempting taste and aroma. When the packaging is opened and used for frying, oil is easily oxidized and changes in smell and taste. In preventing rancidity, the oil is usually given the antioxidant beta-carotene, produced synthetically and relatively uncritical. To make it attractive, producers also purify the oil, for example, with the help of activated carbon, which needs to be studied for its halal status.
Third, the use of flavoring. Various flavor enhancers, such as Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and Sodium Inosinate and Guanylate (I+G), can be used. Both are microbial products resulting from fermentation. The growth media for the bacteria producing these two compounds must ensure they are impurities-free. According to the Halal Auditor Management Manager of LPPOM MUI, Ade Suherman, S.Si., the critical point of fermentation lies in the nitrogen source for the multiplication of bacteria, which commonly uses peptone. This peptone can be derived from animal elements, so it must be ensured that it is halal.
“The MSG and I+G purification processes also involve ion exchange resins to separate residues in the final product. The resin itself is critical from a halal point of view because, at the beginning of the polymerization process, the resin is assisted by gelatin. Gelatin must come from halal animals and slaughter in a syar’i way,” explained Ade.
Unfortunately, a search for halal products on the LPPOM MUI website found no halal-certified Latiao. According to the explanation above, it is not easy for ordinary people to ensure that Latiao is halal only by examining the ingredients. However, we don’t need to worry because many other viral snacks are halal-certified. Please check the halal snack that will be purchased through the website www.halalmui.org or the HalalMUI application, which can be downloaded on Google Playstore. (ZUL)