Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pan-fried senbei (Japanese rice crackers)

This is another post from me since the banana muffins about using up leftovers at home, and this time I`ve got rice. Since my husband and I are genetically gastronomically designed to be rice eaters, we constantly have leftover rice  at home, which we usually place on top of the freshly cooked batch in the rice cooker, wait for a while to heat it up, and eat it up altogether. The cycle repeats all the time, except for one day when I remembered watching a TV program about making senbei, or Japanese rice crackers, at home with a frying pan. During my first year in Japan, I got the impression that senbei is the national snack of Japan, if there`s such a thing. In fact, I think of senbei as  sort of Japanese potato chips due to its dominance in the non-Western snack corners in the stores.
Regular senbei sold at the stores are usually crunchy, hence the name "crackers" regardless the shapes or tastes. But these pan-fried version give a different texture of senbei with a crispy exterior and mochi-like glutinous interior. I personally don`t see it as cracker. Fried mashed rice, maybe? Oh, let`s just call it senbei, then.

Anyway, this is very easy to make. With simple ingredients too!
You just need cooked rice and grind it until you can`t see the individual grains and it turned into a very, very sticky dough. I`ve tried using steaming hot rice and cold one. Not fridge cold, though, just not hot. Both turned alright for making these senbei.
By the way, I only had like 3 (heaping) tbs of cooked rice when I made these senbei and that gave me 6  pieces of palm-sized senbei.

Before I continue, here is my verdict about the grinding/mashing. Although you can see in the pictures that I ground the rice using mortar and pestle, I recommend you to use a zip-lock storage bag instead. I don`t know if I did it wrong, but the ground rice stuck (like glued stuck!) to the pestle and the mortar and this really made the grinding harder. When I placed the rice in a bag, and mashed it with a pestle from outside the bag, my life turned so much easier. I wish I took the pictures when I did it with a plastic bag, but I`m sure you get the idea just fine.

Alright, after the mashed rice is done, now throw in your favorite ingredients (cheese? meat? sugar?). and mix well. I used seaweed flakes and sesame seeds. My must-have pantry items.

Wet both of your palms with water (I tried oil too, but I love water better) to prevent the dough from sticking, place a portion of the dough on your palm, and shape it into a thin disc. Now this is optional, top the senbei discs with dried shrimps for extra flavor.
Frying time! Put the senbei directly on a heated frying pan with a bit of oil. 

When the bottom browned, flip it over, and brush the browned surface with soy sauce and sesame oil. When the other side got browned too, flip it over again, brush with the sauce too, and you`re done!

If you want, sprinkle some more seaweed flakes on top.
Not bad for leftovers, huh. Other than nibbling on them right away, I also put these senbei in a bowl of hot kimchi nabe. Oh, loved it! Like crazily loved it! And if I have to add rice to any soup, it has to be these senbei, not the regular steamed rice.

Oh, there`s one thing you should know, especially if you`ve never had senbei before. This senbei will tend to stick on your teeth and the wise thing to do is to brush your teeth afterward. But, regardless how often I had senbei stuck in my teeth, I always ended up making them again. That`s how much addictive these guys are.

Steamed/cooked rice
Sesame seeds (better if toasted first)
Seaweed flakes
Dried shrimps
Soy sauce
Sesame oil


  1. oh yummm....not a good idea to read this when need to reduce carbs heheheh

  2. I know! I need to do some exercise before and after having this treat :D

  3. Never had anything like this before! Looks yummy!

  4. senbei reminds me of "opak" from home (made from ketan hehe). looks yummy.

  5. What a great way to use leftover rice. they look so yummy! I usually just add some green onions and seasoning to the rice, roll in a ball, dip in egg then panko bread crumb and fry it up. I have got to try making these! Thanks for the tips too.

  6. Lauren: It`s time to try then!

    Iis: Ah yes, the crunchy opak. But the chewiness reminds me of Jateng`s jadah.

    Lindsey: Your fried rice balls sounds terrific! Thanks for the recipe. Next time you want to use less oil (or don`t have enough oil), this one might work for you.

  7. Hi Arudhi! This is the recipe I have been waiting for for ages! I have leftover rice all the time, I love rice cakes, sesame seeds and I have just bought ao nori (I have seen served in one of the episodes of Shinya Shokudo on yakisoba and decided to try it this way). In short, I will make it very soon. I must also say I am glad you shared the way you heat up the leftover rice. I would have never thought of such a simple way. I always heat it separately in the microwave.
    I am very happy to have discovered your blog! Thank you for visiting mine.

  8. Hi Sissi! I use aonori a lot, really a lot in my daily meals since I love its nice scent with a kick of flavor. I sprinkle or add it to scrambled eggs, regular hot rice, fried rice, and even cheese cookies. You should try sprinkle the aonori on your pizza, you might like it too. And I hope you enjoy your homemade senbei!

  9. Thank you for all the tips! I will tell you how my senbei turned out as soon as I make them!

  10. I made these this afternoon and couldn't stop eating them! A little chewy, perhaps, but I found the thinner I got them the better they were. Delicious!