4 Major Types of Senbei: Japanese Rice Crackers
Senbei is one of the Japanese rice crackers made from non-glutinous rice called Uruchi Mai (うるち米), the staple of the Japanese diet, and traditionally flavored with soy sauce or salt.
The rice snack has a long history and today comes in 4 types, based on the production method.
Each type is widely available in Japan, and we often enjoy them as an afternoon snack or Oyatsu with green tea.
Types of Senbei
The four major types of Senbei are Yaki Senbei, Nure Senbei, Age Senbei, and Ware Senbei. But how do they differ?
Yaki Senbei (焼きせんべい: Baked Senbei)
When we Japanese say Senbei, that usually refers to the most common variety Yaki Senbei (焼きせんべい: meaning Grilled/Baked Senbei).
This type consists of Uruchi rice steamed, pounded, formed into a round shape, and grilled or baked.
As mentioned above, the rice dough is traditionally brushed with soy sauce or lightly salted, but in modern times, Yaki Senbei is available in various flavors.
Nure Senbei (ぬれせんべい: Wet Senbei)
Nure Senbei, literally Wet Senbei, is a type of Senbei whose entire dough is moist or wet. Unlike Yaki Senbei, the making involves dunking into soy sauce during the 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 limp in texture.
Age Senbei (揚げせんべい: Deep-Fried Senbei)
Age Senbei, literally Deep-Fried Senbei, is made by deep-frying rice dough in vegetable oil, and representative products include Kabuki Age (歌舞伎揚) and Bonchi Age (ぼんち揚).
Kabukiage is best-known in the Kanto region around Tokyo, while Bonchiage holds the largest market share in the Kansai region around Osaka.
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, nowadays, makers produce Ware Senbei intentionally. One primary aim is to let soy sauce well infiltrate into the cracks.