I’ve had a package of mochiko (sweet rice flour) in my cupboard for months. I think I bought it to make crispy rice crackers, but the recipe in my book called for joshinko. So off I went then to buy the correct flour, and until beginning Ella’s Challenge the package has sat, neglected at the back of the shelf.
There are two kinds of rice flour: joshinko (上新粉) is made from rinsed, dried, and powdered regular Japanese rice (uruchi-mai). Joshinko is used to make steamed cakes. Mochiko, or shiratamako (白玉粉), is glutinous rice flour, made from rinsed, dried, and powdered glutinous (sweet) rice. It’s used for making gooey dumplings (dango) which are cooked in boiling water. (A note just to make things more confusing is that I found one reference to shiratamako as mochiko mixed with a little potato starch.)
This recipe can make three different kinds of rice crackers. They can be deep fried and puffed like doughnuts, or baked into a cracker like a wafer, or finished with a soy sauce and sugar glaze. I used only 1/3 of the dough for this post, with plans to try the other 2 variations soon. I rolled the dough thinner than instructed by the recipe, so I had 9 rather than 6 crackers.
Senbei: Japanese Rice Crackers
Japanese Cooking for the American Table by Karen Green
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 cup mochiko (sweet rice flour)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 to 1 cup water
- additional flour
- oil for deep frying or lightly greased cookie sheets
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
In a food processor, combine the dry ingedients (the first 7 above). Add the water slowly until the dough becomes a firm ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 3 hours, until the dowugh has somewhat firmed up for rolling.
Roll out the dough to aout 1/2″ thickness on a surface lightly dusted with flour. Dust cutter with flour. Cut circles of dough, rerolling as necessary until all dough is cut.
To deep fry the dough: heat oil to 375°F and deep-fry a few circles at a time, removing when golden. Drain. The dough will puff up beautifully as it fries. Serve immediately.
Or: bake the circles on lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until they turn light brown. Remove and cool. The baked dough circles do not puff up as much as the deep fried crackers. They have a firmer texture.
Or: glaze the crackers. If you do this version, don’t back the cookies too long because they are going back into the oven to dry the glaze. Over low heat, combine the shoyu and sugar, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce thickens. Use a pastry brush to spread the syrup over the cookies. Pre-heat oven to 300°F for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat. Place the crackers on cookie sheets, and allow senbei to dry out for 6 to 8 hours. The glaze will soak into the crackers and dry a little.
Store in an airtight container. Note: I wouldn’t make the glazed version again: mine dried out too much and became rock hard.
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9 thoughts on “Senbei Japanese Crackers”
I’ve read most of your blog now and got so inspired! Tomorrow I will try to get hold of what I need for senbei, although a bit difficult here in Norway…. you’ve really inspired me to cook even more japanese food and to pack a bento for work…
I’d like to know if mochiko is absolutely necessary, or will rice flour made from non-glutinous Japanese rice work? Thanks!
I’m not sure! Seems as though it would be worth a try, though.
Note, this is not the book I usually cook from and it’s quite old.
The author calls these rice crackers, but there is more wheat flour than rice flour so I don’t think this is very close to Japanese rice crackers!
The fried version was best.
And to be honest, I liked these a lot more:
(They do not use sweet rice flour.)
Sweet rice flour and normal rice flour have very different characteristics and do not substitute for each other at all–try adding the same amount of water to a half a cup of each and you’ll see what I mean! (Or try cooking sweet rice like you’d white rice. Oi.)
OOOO! I hadn’t thought about it like that. Of course you are right. Thank you.
I hope mike did go on to make the rice crackers that I like better.
for my new Kamishibai street show, I ‘d like to offer to kids some traditional “MILK Senbei” ( they were the traditional sweets sold by Japanese Kamishibayia street storytellers prior show) for which I am not able to find out an original recipe. Maybe I have just to add some milk to usual senbei recipe, I guess, but is it enough? Or shd I add some more sweet ingredients??? After hours of searching, still not able to find on web how to cook MILK senbei. Thanks in advance for kind help…
Roberto – Italian street Storyteller
I had to Google Kamishibai! Very interesting. From what I saw, it seems that the story tellers were selling cheap candy rather than rice crackers?
I wouldn’t think that adding milk would work; I haven’t seen traditional Japanese recipes using much milk, though more modern ones do occasionally. Perhaps soy milk, or coconut milk (also I don’t think that would be traditional) because some of the info I looked at indicated kamishibai having roots in Buddhist temples which would most likely be strictly vegetarian.
Somewhere I have a recipe link for a snack made with roasted and sugar coated beans, and lots of recipes for wagashi, but none of these seem to fit what you describe. Could be something on this picture, but no recipes included!
I’ll put up a post with your comment to see if a regular reader may have more information.
Do you have a recipe for baked senbei that does taste good? I’d like to avoid the better tasting deepfrying version.
I really want ginger senbei — any suggestions on how to do this? Should I put ginger in the batter or the glaze?
I liked this recipe a lot more than the one in this post: https://1tess.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/crispy-rice-crackers/
They were most excellent. I don’t know why search engines find this post more often than the one I linked to here. !!???? Well, I don’t know if you came here from Google or such… at any rate, that one is a much nicer recipe. In my opinion.
These crackers are much crisper and have no glaze. If I were going for ginger flavor I’d add ginger juice to the dough.
BUT, I have not actually done this. It seems logical and flavorful from my long-time cooking experiences but keep in mind that it is untested.
Grate ginger. I use a fine microplane so the ginger is very finely grated. Put it into a cling plastic sheet (or even to layers of plastic) and twist it into a pouch. Make 3 or 4 slits in the plastic with a knife and squeeze the juice onto a glass plate.
Add juice to the measuring cup for the liquid (1/2 cup total) in the recipe.
I’m guessing, but if you want a ginger glaze as well, it will be sweet. I’d make a sugar/water mixture guided by a recipe for a glaze on maybe sugar cookies, then add ginger juice.
Hope this helps!