Osenbei or rice crackers are common snacks in Japan. They are pretty much traditional too. It is basically made of rice, water and soy sauce. There are variations on osenbei. They could have red pepper, sugar, green tea or plum as flavoring. Here are the steps in preparing the oishii, or delicious, snack.
1: Select the kind of rice you will use. Make sure it is fine. Grind it with water. Crush it then steam it. Afterwards, let it cool down with clear water. Do that several times.
2: When the steamed rice has gotten to room temperature, pound it into a cake. It will be shaped with a mold so that the size and thickness will be uniform. Let it dry for more than eight hours.
3: After letting the cakes dry, they will be ready for baking. A handheld metal is used to press it and turn it over. You know it is already cooked if oyu see that its surface is slightly burnt. Lightly brush the crackers with soy sauce before serving them.
Note that the taste of the osenbei may vary, depending on the weather, heat temperature, amount of air involved and how long it took for it to be turned over.
In Asakusa, there are shops that sell osenbei near the temples. You could find osenbei and other traditional snacks along Nakamise, which is known as the shopping street. Osenbei could be bought in packs.
Osenbei is also served as a part of the Girl’s Festival or Doll Festival, also known as Hina Matsuri. The Girl’s Festival is celebrated on the third of March. Osenbei, as well as rice cakes and gomoku sushi are enjoyed then. In any case, you could enjoy osenbei anytime and anywhere. These snacks are filling and quite healthy too.