What if there was a perfect snack pairing that you can enjoy with every cup of green tea? There is! It’s senbei. These mighty rice crackers are packed with flavor that ranges from sweet to savory creating the perfect bite for everyone. These traditional Japanese snacks vary depending on the area of Japan they originate from. Read on to learn more about this tasty snack!
What Are Senbei?
Senbei are Japanese rice crackers with a long history dating back to the 1800s. These crackers are traditionally circular, though other shapes and sizes are now available. They are also usually crafted from simple flavors.
Typically, senbei is made from uruchi-mai rice, aka white rice. This Japanese staple is a type of non-glutinous rice. Meaning it is pretty sticky and also offers a delicious creamy consistency. This snack is not always eaten alongside tea; it's also consumed plain or for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Initially, these crackers were made from wheat flour and sometimes even potatoes. Over the years, the recipe has shifted to a rice-based cracker. Senbei are some of the oldest snacks that many continue to enjoy.
Why Are They So Delicious?
There are many reasons why senbei are incredibly delicious. Part of the reason is the vast array of available flavors. These flavors range from sweet, fruity options to shrimp or nori, aka seaweed, choices. The wide array of taste options allows you to enjoy the flavors that best suit your palette. This variety makes it easy for people with different flavor preferences to enjoy Senbei.
Beyond the many available choices, senbei is also very affordable. While affordability and taste do not go hand in hand, they are a popular choice for everyone and anyone. Plus, you can try as many flavors as possible, ensuring you find your favorite senbei crackers to munch on.
How Are They Made?
The method and recipe for making senbei vary immensely depending on the region the crackers originate from. In the east Kanto region of Japan, they're made from non-glutinous rice. In the western area of Kansai, they're made from glutinous rice.
Once the flavors are added, they’re baked or grilled into the perfect crunchy round. Sweet senbei typically have a sugar exterior. In some cases, it's sprinkled, and in others, it's more similar to a coating or glaze.
Savory senbei can be wrapped in seaweed, covered in spicy chili flakes, or topped with a soy sauce coating. Part of the fun of senbei is the exterior texture found in the crackers with varying flavors.
Where Can I Find These Authentic Japanese Snacks?
Ready to munch on some Japanese treats? Here are some irresistible options that you can enjoy in your home (with or without a cup of green tea).
Iwatsuka Seika Butter Mochi Senbei (18 Pieces)
Here’s a unique (and newer) flavor option to try! These Iwatsuka Seik Butter Mochi Senbei (18 pcs) combine the delicious butter mochi dessert (a chewy, decadent sweet treat) and rice crackers for the ultimate tasty treats.
Masuya Onigiri Senbei: Soy Sauce Flavor (16 Packs)
Soy sauce is one of the original flavors of senbei. These Japanese snacks provide a traditional taste in combination with seaweed. Plus, the Masuya Onigiri Senbei: Soy Sauce Flavor (16 Packs) are shaped like onigiri, aka rice balls making for a fun, crunchy snack.
Kuze Fuku & Co. Shiro Ebi Senbei (20 Packs)
Ebi, aka shrimp, is another tasty flavor you can enjoy at home. This particular senbei is flavored with umami dashi, a delicious broth that provides a rich, umami taste. Kuze Fuku & Co has been creating snacks for one hundred years, so you know this Kuze Fuku & Co. Shiro Ebi Senbei (20 Packs) Japan box will be a winner!
Sanko Seika Yuki no Yado: Kokuto Black Sugar Milk Rice Cracker (12 Pieces)
Here’s an option for sweet lovers! This Sanko Seika Yuki no Yado: Kokuto Black Sugar Milk Rice Cracker (12 Pieces) has a delightfully sweet and salty flavor combination that can't be beaten. On top of these senbei crackers is kokuto, Japanese brown sugar, and sweet milk.
You can find even more options for Japanese rice crackers here: senbei products.
Craving other Japanese sweets and savory snacks? Head to Bokksu Market for various Japanese candy and Japanese snack boxes. Try a Japanese snack subscription box for themed monthly box options, with a first box having a "Seasons of Japan" theme.
Or, buy a Japanese snack box or Japanese candy box as a one-time purchase. You may even find your new favorite snacks from some of the best Japanese snack box options and exclusive Japanese candies available.
By Krystina Quintana