Rice crackers are a traditional Japanese snack food. Japanese rice crackers are known as senbei or sembei. These rice crackers are available in a variety of flavors, sizes and shapes. Senbei or sembei is often paired with a cup of green tea.
This traditional snack food is prepared either by grilling or baking. To enhance their natural flavor, the sembei or senbei are often brushed with a special sauce made from a mixture of mirin and soy sauce. The senbei may be wrapped with nori or alternately they may be sold lightly salted.
History of Senbei
Senbei came to Japan sometime in 737 AD during the Tang dynasty. Even today there are some types of senbei which are prepared with the same ingredients which were used to prepare the rice crackers during the Tang dynasty.
Types of Senbei
Today many varieties of senbei are sold in Japan. The two main types of senbei are rice candy senbei and sweet senbei. The sweet senbei is extremely popular in Japana and there are nearly 15 varieties of sweet senbei. The other less popular varieties of senbei are the bone senbei, fish senbei and lotus senbei.
The Japanese word ‘arare’ literally translated to hailstones. The arare senbei are small and bite sized. These senbei which are made with glutinous rice are flavored with soy sauce. The distinctive size and shape of this senbei is what distinguishes it from other types of senbei.
Sweet Rice Flour – 2 ½ cups
Almond Flour – 2 cups
Sugar- 4 ½ tbsp
Sesame Seeds – 4tbsp
Baking Powder – 3tbsp
Mirin – ½ cup
Warm Water – 1 cup
Canola Oil – 3 cups
White Sugar – 3/8 cup
Corn Syrup – 3/8 cup
Soy Sauce – 3/8 cup
1. Take three cookie sheets and line them with butter paper.
2. Sift the rice and almond flour together. Next transfer the sifted flour into a large bowl and add four tablespoons of sesame seeds, four and a half tablespoons of sugar and three tablespoons of baking powder. Mix the dry ingredients well.
3. To the dry ingredients, add one cup of warm water and half a cup of mirin. Knead the flour to form soft dough.
4. Flour the kitchen tabletop lightly and place the kneaded dough on the lightly floured surface. Continue kneading the dough for another five minutes.
5. Now divide the dough into five equal sized balls.
6. Roll out the dough balls. Each of the flattened dough pieces should be of about 1/8 inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter, cut the rolled dough into different shapes.
7. Take a deep bottomed frying pan and fill it with canola oil (about 2/3rd full). Heat the oil to about 375 degree Fahrenheit.
8. Now fry the dough bits till they are golden brown. Drain the crackers and place them on absorbent towels.
9. Take two cookie sheets. Spray the sheets with cooking spray and place the cooled crackers in a single layer on the sheets. Preheat the oven to 300 degree Fahrenheit.
10. In a saucepan combine the corn syrup, sugar and soy sauce. Place the saucepan over medium heat and stir the ingredients continuously till they melt and begin to boil.
11. Remove saucepan from the fire. Dip a pastry brush in the glaze mixture and gently brush the mixture over the crackers.
12. Once the glaze is applied on the crackers, transfer the cookie sheets to the preheated oven.
13. Bake the crackers till they begin to crack. Remove the cookie sheets from the oven. Allow the crackers to cool and transfer them to airtight containers.