Senbei, a low calorie snack cracker made from rice!

Senbei was introduced to Japan from China during the Asuka period (592-710).
At the time, senbei was made by kneading wheat flour with water and roasting it with oil.
I’ll introduce the origins of present senbei, as well as different kinds and different flavors.

2016-09-09   Foods & Drinks,

senbei


【CONTENTS】
What is the origin of senbei?
Japanese people’s favorite is the soy sauce flavored senbei.
Senbei saturated in soy sauce.
How is Senbei, Arare, and Okaki different?

Rice
Rice

What is the origin of senbei?

Senbei is made from rice, which Japanese people enjoy eating. It is said that the origin of current senbei can be traced back to “Soka-senbei” in Soka city, Saitama Prefecture.

Soka-senbei was originally a salty dried rice ball used as preserved food that was first sold in the city, then developed into flat and crunchy snack. When soy sauce proved to be popular, the flavor was applied to the Senbei.

Senbei was popularized and became widespread from Soka city. At the beginning of the Edo period, it became the beloved snack of Japanese people.

Soy sauce senbei
Soy sauce senbei

Japanese people’s favorite is the soy sauce flavored senbei.

Among the various types of senbei, soy sauce senbei is the standard in Japan! Japanese people love hard-baked senbei with a soy sauce flavor.

Soy sauce senbei with coarse sugar
Soy sauce senbei with coarse sugar

There are many types of seasonings for soy sauce flavored senbei. Coarse sugar and sesame seasonings are popular.

Senbei with sesame
Senbei with sesame

 

Soy sauce flavored senbei with dried seaweed
Soy sauce flavored senbei with dried seaweed

Japanese people also enjoy miso flavored senbei.
There are a wide variety of other flavors, including wasabi and curry.

The appeal of senbei is its crunchy texture and various flavor.

Baking senbei
Baking senbei

Senbei saturated in soy sauce.

Japanese people love the crunchy texture of senbei, but senbei that defies it’s conventional form has become popular in recent years.

Moist senbei
Moist senbei

Moist senbei was accidentally invented around 1960 at a senbei shop in Chiba Prefecture.
When applying the shop’s secret soy sauce, they became oversaturated. Although the senbei was thought to be dead product, the shop owner gave it out to customers for free. This was the beginning of the ‘wet’, or ‘moist’ senbei.

Moist senbei has a unique texture. Some customers complained that they were too soggy, but there were also a lot of customers who said the secret soy sauce was delicious and enjoyed them.

After it had gradually grown in popularity through word of mouth, many manufacturers produce this type of senbei nowadays.

Arare
Arare

How is Senbei, Arare, and Okaki different?

You ‘ll see other rice crackers like Okaki (medium-sized glutinous rice cracker) and Arare (small cube type glutinous rice cracker) at the supermarket.
Senbei is made from rice, while okaki and arare are made from glutinous rice, which is the source of sticky rice cake.
Okaki and arare are generally not flat-shaped crackers. Arare is a small round-shaped rice cracker, and okaki is a little larger. Both are less crunchy when compared with Senbei, but some okaki can be very hard.

Hina dolls
Hina dolls
Hina-arare
Hina-arare

Hina-arare are sweet bite-sized rice crackers for Hina-matsuri (Doll Festival). The Japanese offer Hina-arare to hina dolls during the festival on March 3rd.
They are made by drying glutinous rice after its cooked or steamed, and coating them with colorful sugar.

Senbei, okaki, and arare all are delicious when eaten with Japanese green tea. Please give them a try when you come to Japan!

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AUTHOR

kyoami

kyoami

Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.