Senbei are traditional crackers made out of rice and rice flour that are often seasoned with Furikaki, soy sauce, dried seaweed, or other tasty seasonings. Though they don’t appear as often in modern anime, they are actually a quite common treat (particularly for children) in older anime from the 1960’s to the early 2000’s. Often in Dubbed anime, these large crackers (which are depicted as brown circles) are referred to as cookies/biscuits.
Though these crunchy snacks are certainly available to buy packaged and ready to eat, they can also be made at home for anyone to try at any time! And unlike potato chips or wheat flour based crackers, these don’t need any special equipment, it doesn’t take hours to cut out hundreds of tiny little crackers, no deep fryer is needed, and there’s no unusual ingredients needed. In fact, these crackers have very little fat in them and are naturally gluten free! So if you would like to have a little taste of anime nostalgia, why not try some senbei!
- 1 cup Rice Flour
- 1/2 cup Cooked Rice
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- 4 Tablespoons Water (or as needed)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Seasonings! (to your taste)
Tip: To make the shaping of the crackers easier, you’ll probably want to use a clear glass pie pan, a clear glass plate, or a clear glass bowl with a flat bottom.
In a bowl, mix together the rice flour, cooked rice, salt and oil. Drizzle the water in little by little just until the mixture comes together to form a dough. If you like mixing or kneading dough, go for it! The more you mix this dough the better it is! If you want the inside of the cracker to have flecks of seasonings, add that now. You could add sesame seeds, cracked pepper, chili pepper flakes for something a little spicy, or maybe your favorite seasoning salt.
Next is the shaping of the crackers! First grab small handfuls of the dough and roll it into golf ball sized balls. Place a ball between two sheets of plastic wrap. Make sure that the ball is in the center of the sheets and that the plastic sheets are pretty big, because these crackers are about to grow!
Now for the fun part. Place a ball of dough sandwiched between plastic wrap on the counter, put a clear glass plate or clear glass pie pan on top of the dough, and squiiiiiiiiiiiissssshhhh it as flat as you can possibly squish it! If you’re short, you might need a step stool for this part, so you can get good leverage. Using a clear flat object for the squishing is really handy so you can watch how flat the dough is getting and make sure that its getting flattened evenly. It’s important to get the crackers as flattened as thin as possible so they will be crispy after being baked!
If you would like some dried seaweed on the outside of the senbei (as they are often depicted in anime) then gently peel back one side of the sheets of plastic on your dough circles, and pat a 2 inch by 3 inch square of dried nori onto the surface of the squished dough. You don’t have to try too hard to make the seaweed stick, as the cracker bakes the seaweed will glue itself onto the cracker on it’s own.
Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Carefully peel the plastic off of the dough circles and put the dough on the oiled baking sheet. Put the crackers are on the baking sheet in the oven and bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes, turn over the crackers with some tongs (don’t touch them with your fingers, they are very hot!) and then bake for another 10 minutes. Home ovens can vary, so check on them every so often to make sure they aren’t burning.
Let the crackers cool on a cooling rack, and then enjoy these crunchy savory crackers!