Japanese Rice Cracker: What is Ware Senbei?
“Senbei (せんべい)”, together with “Okaki (おかき)” and “Arare (あられ)”, is one of the rice crackers that represent Japan. Compared to Okaki and Arare, in general, Senbei rice crackers are large in size typically with a round shape.
In Japan, Senbei is available in several major types and “Yaki Senbei (焼煎餅)” is the most common variety which is made by baking. As other basics, “Nure Senbei (濡れせんべい)” is the wet one and “Age Senbei (揚げせんべい)” is the deep-fried one.
In addition to them, actually, there is one more type of Senbei that is also commonly eaten in Japan, which I introduce today called “Ware Senbei (割れせんべい)”.
Ware Senbei (割れせんべい) or Waresen (割れせん)
As “Ware (割れ)” is a Japanese word that stands for “broken”, “Ware Senbei (割れせんべい)”, sometimes abbreviated to “Waresen (割れせん)”, is literally a broken Senbei.
This Senbei variant has its roots in defective Senbei products, such as broken pieces and curved shapes of Senbei. Since Senbei is traditionally made using hands by artisans, such defects occasionally occur in the producing process.
Thus, Ware Senbei is originally the product that is made up of those imperfect rice crackers, but in recent years, what is intendedly broken is also available, and what I purchased today is just that kind of Ware Senbei. Actually, the Senbei is broken for a certain purpose.
According to the texts on the package, the reason why the Senbei is broken into small pieces is that seasonings, such as soy sauce, well infiltrate into the cracks. In fact, these broken pieces are flavored by dunking in soy sauce twice.
This is why these Ware Senbei rice crackers have a dark brown color and an intense flavor of soy sauce as compared to the regular Yaki Senbei. Despite that, just like the baked one, they hold a perfect crunch.