A Summer of Rice Crackers
This entry was posted on July 6, 2010.
Good news everyone! Summer is finally here! Unfortunately it comes with a price... We regret to inform you that our delicious rich and creamy chocolate snacks could melt during shipping. We know, we know, it sucks majorly. Good thing we have tons of crunchy rice cracker snacks to fill the void!
We're not talking about your run of the mill styrofoam disks that you find at you grocery store. We mean the real deal. Japanese rice crackers are crunchy pieces of puffed rice that come it a wide variety of shapes, colors, and flavors. Once baked, a thin layer of savory soy sauce glaze is added to flavor. Many of them are used ceremonially. Not only are they tasty, they are way healthier than plain old potato chips.
Wet glutinous rice is first put into a giant stone mortar called an usu. It is then pounded into a thick paste using a huge mallet. When the paste becomes smooth and malleable, it is then shaped into bricks or balls commonly known as Mochi or Rice Cakes. From this point, pieces are cut into disks, squares, chunks, and chips. Each unique shape will eventually end up being tasty crackers. When added to boiling hot oil, baked, or grilled, the still moist mochi pieces puff because of the expanding gasses that are trapped inside, much like a donut or a kettle of popcorn kernels. Each piece is the glazed with flavor.
Usually the crispy crackers are flavored with rich and salty soy sauce. Other flavors include seafood like shrimp, fish, or sea vegetables like kelp and sushi nori. Originally, there was no sweet senbei. It wasn't introduced until 737 A.D. during the Tang Dynasty. Now a days, it is very easy to find. Sweet soy sauce and rice wine combine to make a very tasty salty and sweet snack. It is also not uncommon to find wasabi, kimchi, or even curry flavored rice crackers.
Some rice crackers are even considered very lucky and are eaten on special occasions. The wide round senbei with the sheet of nori on it is usually passed out to families as a gift of good luck and good fortune. A multicolored mix called Hina Arare is usually passed out during Japan's Girl's Day Festival (Doll Festival). Regular rice cracker mixes can be found year round; each is mixed with various ingredients like wasabi peas, dried seafood, and dried nuts.
So, why not give the chocolate a break. Grab a hand full of crispy crunchy heat resistant rice crackers!