4 Common Types of Senbei: Japanese Rice Crackers
Senbei is one of the traditional Japanese rice crackers made of non-glutinous rice called “Uruchi Mai (うるち米)”, the staple of the Japanese diet, and traditionally flavored with soy sauce or salt.
Senbei has a long history and today it can be classified into 4 types based on the production method.
Each type is commonly eaten in Japan as an afternoon snack with a cup of green tea and can be bought in most supermarkets around the country.
4 Major Types of Senbei
For people who don’t know much about the Japanese rice crackers Senbei, here I will talk about the 4 major types.
1. Yaki Senbei (焼きせんべい: Baked Senbei)
First off, when we Japanese just say “Senbei” in daily life, that usually refers to the most common type “Yaki Senbei (焼きせんべい: Grilled or Baked Senbei)”.
Yaki Senbei is made of the non-glutinous rice Uruchi Mai that has been steamed, pounded, formed into a somewhat thick round shape, and grilled or baked.
As I mentioned above, the rice dough of Senbei is traditionally brushed with soy sauce or seasoned with salt, but in modern times Yaki Senbei is available in a variety of flavors like these.
2. Nure Senbei (ぬれせんべい: Wet Senbei)
Nure Senbei, literally Wet Senbei, is a common type of Senbei whose entire dough is moist or wet. This is because, unlike Yaki Senbei, these rice crackers are dunked into soy sauce during the producing process.
Since at the time soy sauce infiltrates the rice dough, Nure Senbei has a strong soy sauce flavor compared to Yaki Senbei and is soft and slightly limp in texture.
3. Age Senbei (揚げせんべい: Deep-Fried Senbei)
Age Senbei, literally Deep-Fried Senbei, is made by deep-frying the rice dough in vegetable oil.
When I hear Age Senbei, what comes to my mind right away is “Kabuki-Age (歌舞伎揚)” and “Bonchi-Age (ぼんち揚)” fries.
In terms of Age Senbei, Kabuki-Age is best-known in the Kanto region around Tokyo, while Bonchi-Age holds the largest market share in the Kansai region around Osaka.
4. Ware Senbei (割れせんべい: Broken Senbei)
Ware Senbei, literally Broken Senbei, is originally a product made up of defective Yaki Senbei like broken or curved ones.
However, in recent years, Ware Senbei is intendedly produced by breaking Yaki Senbei into pieces. The primary aim is actually for letting soy sauce well infiltrate into the cracks.