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Senbei - Japanese Rice Crackers


Senbei are rice crackers made by kneading wheat flour, rice flour, or other grain flour, stretching them thin, and baking them. In Japan today, they are made from Uruchi rice, which is ordinary Japanese rice, a staple of the Japanese diet, and consists of short translucent grains (there's also okaki and arare rice crackers, which are similar but made from glutinous rice, which is a different ingredient from senbei). When making senbei, Uruchi rice is ground into powder, watered, and steamed. The dough is then pounded, formed into round shapes, dried, and baked.

In this week's blog posts, we will introduce the charm of senbei, senbei Maido currently offers, recipes using them, how to revive stale senbei to a crispy condition, hot to store senbei, and the history of senbei. Here we go!


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The Charm of Senbei

Senbei are easy to digest and absorb When you cook rice, the starch gets gelatinized (when starch is heated with water, the starch molecules lose their stability, becoming glue-like. Freshly cooked rice is fluffy because of that). Since senbei are made by heating the cooked rice again by baking or frying them, they undergo that process twice. It makes them easier on the stomach, which helps with digestion and absorption. Therefore, from babies to the elderly, they can be enjoyed as a snack that is gentle to the stomach. It is good to chew Since ancient times, there was a ceremony at the imperial palace to pray for health and longevity by eating hard mochi rice cakes. In fact, chewing hard senbei is very good for you body. The chewing process produces a lot of saliva. Saliva is good for digesting senbei because it contains an enzyme called amylase, which digests starch. Since senbei contain a lot of starch, if you produce a lot of saliva, which digests starch, then the digestion of senbei will be better. Not only does it stimulate the secretion of saliva, but it also works the muscles of the jaw, which in turn stimulates the physiological functions of the head and prevents aging. Furthermore, it is scientifically proven that chewing activates the brain. Chewing also helps to strengthen the teeth, and since senbei contain almost no sugar, they are a type of snack recommended by dentists because they prevent cavities from forming. Senbei are also high in nutritional value Senbei contain many important elements necessary for good health. In addition to high quality protein, they contain carbohydrates and fats for energy, minerals such as calcium and sodium, and vitamins B1 and B2. They contain fewer calories and fat than cakes, cookies, and other western-style confections, making them safe to eat even during dieting.


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Senbei Maido Currently Offers

Sanko Seika, Niigata Jikomi Norishio Seaweed Salt (left) Sanko Seika, Niigata Jikomi Shio Salt (middle) Sanko Seika, Niigata Jikomi Shoyu Soy Sauce (right) Niigata Jikomi are thinly sliced senbei with a pleasant texture created by the whole-grain method. All senbei are made from 100% Japanese rice. Niigata prefecture is famous for its rice. Jikomi or shikomi means production or preparation. The Norishio flavor has a rich flavor that reminds you of seashore - they are made with grilled seaweed from the Ariake Sea, and are flavored with secret condiments, sesame oil and chili peppers. The salt flavor is a blend of four different types of salt and brown sugar. The hint of sweetness is addicting and you will want to keep eating them. The soy sauce flavor is made from a blend of specially selected dark soy sauce and tamari soy sauce, which is slowly charred to give it a savory aroma. Tamari soy sauce has a richer and smoother taste because of a higher concentration of soy. It is also a little bit thicker than soy sauce. Most tamari soy sauce is wheat-free, gluten-free, and vegan-friendly.


(Recipe) Ice Cream Sandwich with Niigata Jikomi

Ingredients (for 1 ice cream sandwich): 2 pieces of Niigata Jikomi salt flavor senbei vanilla ice cream, as desired Recipe: 1. Place ice cream on top of a piece of senbei. 2. Sandwich the ice cream on the other piece of senbei. 3. Wrap it in plastic wrap, pressing down tightly. 4. Put it in the freezer. It is more refreshing and crispy than an ice cream cone.


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Sanko Seika, Echigo Taruyaki Shoyu Soy Sauce (left)

Sanko Seika, Echigo Taruyaki Goma Sesame (right)

Echigo Taruyaki are hard-baked senbei made with the flavor of rice. Among the many Sanko Seika products, they have the hardest texture. Each piece is small, so they are the perfect snack when you just want something little to eat.

Echigo is the old name of the country and refers to the entire area of present-day Niigata Prefecture, except for the Sado area. Niigata City's festival includes Niigata Jinku, a 200-year-old Bon dance song that is accompanied by a wooden barrel drum called a Tarukinuta. It is said that Echigo Taruyaki were born from the sound of the senbei that look like lids of barrels bumping into each other in a bag, which sounds like Tarukinuta. The packagings have motifs of Niigata Jinku.

The soy sauce flavor is crafted from soy sauce made from whole soybeans, giving it a mild taste.

The sesame flavor has the texture of sesame grains and a mellow aroma.

(Recipe) Okonomiyaki with Echigo Taruyaki

Ingredients: Echigo Taruyaki soy sauce flavor Okonomiyaki sauce Mayonnaise Aonori seaweed Bonito flakes (not in the photo) Red pickled ginger (not in the photo) Directions: 1. Arrange the senbei on a plate. 2. Pour okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise on top. 3. Sprinkle aonori seaweed, bonito flakes, and red pickled ginger to complete the dish.


(Recipe) Echigo Taruyaki Okoshi Rice Cracker

Ingredients:

10 pieces of Echigo Taruyaki sesame flavor

3 tbsp of sugar

2 tsp of glucose syrup (mizuame in Japan)

2 tsp of water

1/2 tsp of sesame oil

Directions:

1. Prepare 2 parchment sheets

2. Crush the senbei in tiny pieces.

3. Put sugar, glucose syrup, and water in a heatproof bowl and heat in a microwave (1000W for 45 seconds).

4. Take out the bowl, add sesame oil, and heat in a microwave again (1000W for 30 seconds).

5. Take out the bowl from the microwave and mix in the crushed senbei.

6. Put the mixture on a parchment sheet and spread it with the other parchment sheet put on top by pressing it.

7. Cut it into bite-size pieces with a knife and it is ready to eat. Since it is hard, be careful not to cut your hands.


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Sanko Seika, Salad Sen (left) Sanko Seika, Yuki-no-Yado (right) These two types of senbei are individually packed in small bags inside the package (each small package has two pieces). You can eat them whenever you want without worrying about moisture that makes them stale and less crunchy or crispy. Salad sen is short for salad senbei. The rice is finely ground to make these senbei fluffy and soft. They do not contain vegetables, as their name came from salad oil. They are made by dipping in salad oil and seasoning them with salt. Ako-no-Teshio is the traditional taste of Ako, which has been preserved since the Edo period. It is a bay salt that contains nigari (bittern) and has been loved over the ages. Yuki no Yado means an inn found in the snow. They have a soft, melt-in-your-mouth taste with a refreshing saltiness, and topped with a mildly sweet milk cream with fresh cream from Hokkaido prefecture, which is famous for milk. The mild sweetness and saltiness create an exquisite harmony, making this kind of senbei a unique existence.


(Recipe) Fluffy French Toast with Yuki no Yado

Ingredients:

2 pieces of Yuki no Yado senbei

1 egg

1 tbsp of milk

1/2 tbsp of butter

Honey or jam to your liking

Directions:

1. mix the eggs and milk well.

2. Soak the senbei in what you prepared in step 1 until softened.

3. Bake them in a buttered pan until browned.

4. Serve them with honey or jam, if desired.

Tip:

  • You do not need to add sugar because the Yuki no Yado itself are sweetened.

  • Even stale senbei can be used for this recipe.

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Amanoya, Himemaru These are deep-fried senbei that are very popular at Maido. This type of deep fried senbei is called kabuki age, which means deep-fried kabuki in general, but do you know why? It was created from the idea of fusing two of traditional Japanese cultures: senbei, a unique Japanese snack, and Kabuki, which has been loved by Japanese people since the early 17th century, and now people all over the world. The three-color pattern on the packaging is a reference to the Kabuki stage curtain. These flavorful deep-fried senbei are made by coating bite-sized pieces of fragrant deep-fried dough and seasoning them with a special sauce made from soy sauce and other condiments blended by Amanoya. Furthermore, there is one thing that makes Himemaru unique from other kabuki age - These deep-fried senbei have a hint of spiciness with three different spices. That flavor accents the taste and makes them extra addictive. Once you start eating them, you can't stop, and many people find themselves eating the entire bag without noticing it. It is now your turn to be one of them!


(Recipe) Onigiri Rice Balls with Himemaru and Green Tea

Ingredients: (2 onigiri) 2 bowls of rice 6 pieces of Himemaru senbei 1 tsp of green tea leaves 1/2 tsp of salt Directions: 1. Mash the senbei. They can be crushed by hands if they are in a bag. The onigiri tastes better if a few chunks are left. 2. Put salt and tea leaves in a small pan and roast until tea aroma is released. 3. Mix rice with what you prepared in step 2, then mix in the mashed senbei. 4. Shape the rice into your favorite onigiri shape and serve.


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There is a lot of food items, housewares, stationery, and gifts available at the store and our online store, Maido! Kairashi Shop, where you can place your order for shipping or store pickup! Happy shopping. :)






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