Senbei, or rice cracker in English, is one of my vices. If Pringles claims that "once you pop, you can't stop", well then, this is worse for me. It's that crunch and texture that gets me. Though at home, it is rather difficult to produce the airy, fluffy, MSG ladden variety that you may find in stores. What the home user can do is make use of leftover rice and create these, which has the crunch factor and flavour, but unfortunately, not the airiness though.
The nice thing about making senbei is that you can put in any flavour you can imagine. But just beware that your seasoning is already salted which will make it extra salty if you keep adding for increased flavour. The key with senbei is to keep it low sodium and DRY. If it is not dry, it will not crunch and will spoil very quickly.
Adapted from Ivy Manning
Yield: Makes 30 crackers
3/4 cup sweet rice flour (such as Bob’s Red Mill Sweet Rice Flour or Mochiko)
1/3 cup cooked white rice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 tablespoons water
5 teaspoons furikake- Japanese seaweed rice seasoning condiment, or any other seasoning
1 tablespoon light (reduced sodium) soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a food processor (or a stand mixer), combine the rice flour, white rice, salt, and oil. Pulse until finely ground. If your seasoning is already salted, do not added more salt, and you may need to add less seasoning than indicated.
|My food processor was too small so I transferred to my mixer, still works|
3. With the machine running, slowly add the water.
4. Transfer to a bowl, add the furikake, and knead to combine.
|I also used shiso (perilla) furikake for a slight tangy flavour|
Right: shrimp furikake, very salty
|Shrimp with shiso|
5. Press hazelnut-sized balls of the dough between 2 Ziploc bags into 2 1/2-inch disks (use a flat-bottom brulee dish); the dough will be very thin.
|Cut the edges of a Ziploc bag|
|"La Fermier" yogurt pot to press|
6. Gently, peel the bag off the dough onto the baking sheet
7. Bake on rimmed baking sheets for 5 minutes.
8. Flip the crackers with a spatula and continue to cook until they are dry and starting to brown, 4 to 5 more minutes.
9. Remove from oven.
10. Combine the soy sauce and honey in a small bowl.
11. Bring to boil
12. Brush the tops of each cracker with the soy mixture lightly. If you soak the crackers, it will not crisp up.
13. Place crackers in oven and allow them to dry for 3 minutes.
14. Allow crackers to cool for 15 minutes; they will crisp up considerably. Return to oven for another 10 minutes if not crisp.
15. Store in airtight container if you live in a humid area, leave open if you live in dry area so it can further dry out to crisp
|Shrimp and shiso|
|Seaweed & sesame|
Again, like the wagashi that I've been trying my hand at, these were good but under-whelming. Though Meow father seems to have taken a huge liking to them, sneaking a piece in here and there while they were still cooling and even took a stack to work for the week.
I personally find the shrimp one quite salty and the basting sauce made it even more so, but a nice cup of green tea washes it down nicely. Seaweed one is quite enjoyable. But I think I need to find a different flavour of basting sauce, I just don't like the soy that much.
The dough is easy enough to make but the pressing is rather time consuming. The bake until dry is also a bit annoying since it is hard to gauge if it only crisps up after 15 minutes or so.
Will Meow be making these again? Sure, if I can find a more flavourful seasoning and basting sauce. The crunch on these are quite nice.