Nanbu Senbei: Aomori’s Traditional Wheat Crackers
When Japanese think of snacks served with hot green tea, many will be reminded of “Senbei (煎餅)”, a traditional Japanese rice cracker that comes in several types.
The majority of Senbei crackers are made from non-glutinous rice called “Uruchi Mai (うるち米)”, the staple of the Japanese, but some are made of wheat flour without using rice.
As an example, the classic Japanese cracker I introduced a while ago, Kawara Senbei is a type of Senbei whose main ingredient is not rice but wheat flour.
Actually, in addition to Kawara Senbei, there is one more famous wheat cracker classified as Senbei in Japan, which is what I introduce here “Nanbu Senbei (南部煎餅)”.
Nanbu Senbei (南部煎餅)
Nanbu Senbei is a traditional Japanese cracker made of wheat flour that originated in Hachinohe, Aomori.
Originally, Nanbu Senbei was an emergency food excellent in preservation. In modern times, Aomori and Iwate Prefectures are well-known as production areas of the wheat cracker.
Unlike regular Senbei varieties, Nanbu Senbei has a crispy rim, while its central part is somewhat thick where some food for flavoring is embedded throughout.
Typical flavoring foods for Nanbu Senbei are sesame seeds, peanuts, or walnuts, but other than these, various foods can be used in Nanbu Senbei.
In fact, in recent years, there are many variations of Nanbu Senbei, some of which contain even squid meat, pumpkin, apple, or cocoa powder as a flavoring.
Incidentally, Nanbu Senbei without using any flavoring foods is generally called “Shiro Senbei (白せんべい: White Senbei)”.
The taste of Nanbu Senbei varies depending on the region and the variety. In general, Aomori’s Nanbu Senbei features a bit salty taste, while the one consumed in Iwate is slightly sweet.
As for what I have now, this peanuts-embedded one is a bit sweet,
This one with white sesame seeds has a subtle salty taste that comes from soy sauce,
And this one with black sesame seeds doesn’t use soy sauce but is lightly salted.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 南部煎餅 )