Ware Senbei : What type of Japanese Rice Cracker is it?
“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, Senbei rice crackers are big and generally have a round shape.
In Japan, Senbei comes in several types. For example, “Yaki Senbei (焼煎餅)” refers to baked ones, “Nure Senbei (濡れせんべい)” are wet ones, and “Age Senbei (揚げせんべい)” are deep-fried ones. These are 3 common types of Senbei.
In addition to them, there is another type of Senbei that is commonly eaten in Japan. That is “Ware Senbei (割れせんべい)”.
Ware Senbei (割れせんべい), or Waresen (割れせん)
“Ware Senbei (割れせんべい)”, sometimes abbreviated to “Waresen (割れせん)”, is literally a broken Senbei. This type of Senbei has its roots in defective Senbei rice crackers, such as broken pieces and curved shapes of Senbei.
Since Senbei is traditionally made with hands by artisans, defective ones occasionally occur in the producing process.
Ware Senbei is originally the product that is made up of those defective rice crackers, but in recent years, what are intendedly broken are also sold.
What I purchased today is an intendedly broken Ware Senbei. Actually, it is broken for a certain purpose.
According to the label on the package, the reason why the Senbei is broken into pieces is because the seasoning, such as soy sauce, infiltrates into the cracks well. In fact, these broken pieces are seasoned by dunking in soy sauce twice.
This is why these Ware Senbei have a dark brown color and a strong flavor as compared to the regular Senbei. Nevertheless, they have a perfect crunchy texture just like the baked one.