Pari Pari! Perfectly Crispy Senbei, Japan’s Gluten-Free Rice Crackers

Two dishes filled with an assortment of rice crackers served with a cup of green teaWhen it comes to Japanese snacks, there’s one crunchy treat that will always be a fan favorite: senbei crackers. These gluten-free crackers are made from rice, come in various flavors and textures, and have been a part of Japanese cuisine for centuries. So, what’s the history behind these addictive treats, and where can you find them?

History of Senbei
Rice crackers being grilled

Senbei crackers are said to have been introduced to Japan by the Chinese during the Tang Dynasty, around 737 AD. Originally made from ingredients like potato and wheat, gluten-free rice senbei became popularized during the Edo period, where rice was steamed, pounded into a dough, and then baked or grilled. This is around the same time that senbei started being flavored with soy sauce, as a light and salty cracker you could enjoy any time of day. 

Today, you can find them everywhere in Japan, from supermarkets to local street food stands. If you look hard enough, you can even find specialty senbei masters who will make you the delicious Japanee snack fresh from the grill!


Types of Senbei

Square plate surface with an assortment of rice crackers

One of the great things about senbei crackers is that there are so many different variations to try. Some, like zarame senbei, are sweet. Others, like kare senbei, are savory. Some are crispy and light, while others can be dense and chewy. There are even types of seafood senbei that are popular in Japan, incorporating ingredients like squid and fish as a popular bar snack. Whatever your taste preferences are, there’s a senbei out there for you.

Some of the most popular types of senbei include:

  • Shoyu senbei (soy sauce flavor)
  • Age senbei (fried senbei)
  • Atsuyaki senbei (thick senbei)
  • Kometsubu senbei (grains of rice senbei)
  • Nori senbei (seaweed senbei)
  • Nure senbei (wet senbei)
  • Usuyaki senbei (thin senbei)
  • Kuro Goma senbei (black sesame)
  • Togarashi senbei (spicy)
  • Zarame senbei (granulated sugar)

Smaller rice crackers in various shapes and colors

One of the most popular senbei you might recognize is the “arare” variety, made from glutinous rice. These small, bite-sized crackers come in various flavors, colors, and textures. They’re perfect for snacking on the go or adding to a lunchbox and are easy to find at any grocery store or Asian market.


Make Your Own Senbei

At Zojirushi, we make delicious Cheese Senbei with brown rice and parmesan cheese. It’s simple and easy to make; just pop it in the microwave!

Red bowl filled with rice crackers next to a small glass

In terms of taste, senbei crackers are hard to beat. These Japanese snacks are crunchy, satisfying, and packed with flavor. Have you tried senbei before? What’s your favorite type of senbei? Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on. Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Toro Toro! Discover the Sweet and Refreshing World of Warabi Mochi

Bowl filled with glossy warabi mochi spheres topped with golden sweet soy bean powder

Get ready to satisfy your sweet tooth with a delicious and refreshing Japanese dessert – warabi mochi! Often associated with the term “toro toro,” which describes rich and creamy foods that melt in your mouth. This soft and chewy delicacy has been enjoyed by Japanese people for centuries, and its popularity continues to grow worldwide. Its unique texture and refreshing taste make it the perfect dessert for a warm spring day.

In today’s blog, we will explore the history and culture of warabi mochi, how to make it, and where to find it. Let’s dive in!

History and Culture

Warabi mochi originated during the Heian period in Japan (794-1185), and it was a popular delicacy among the aristocracy. It was made from bracken starch, which was a rare and expensive ingredient at that time. Bracken starch is rich in fiber, which can help with digestion, and is also a good source of protein and vitamin B1. The dessert became more widespread during the Edo period (1603-1868) when it was served in tea houses as part of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.Stacks of green ferns in a basket

The name warabi mochi comes from the word “warabi,” which means “bracken” in Japanese. Bracken is a type of fern that grows in Japan and is used in many traditional dishes. Warabi mochi is typically eaten during the summer months and served chilled.

Unlike regular mochi, it has a much softer, jelly-like texture. In Japan, it often comes in a variety of flavors and toppings, such as matcha green tea and black sesame. The dessert can also be enjoyed in different shapes, such as cubes or rolled balls in various sizes.

Small cubes dipped in sweet soy bean powder

The dessert has become so popular that it has even inspired fashion trends, with warabi mochi-themed clothing and accessories! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your own variations of the dessert by experimenting with different flavors and toppings.

How to Make Warabi Mochi

Burgandy-colored jelly-like cubes topped with sweet soy bean powder served with a cup of green tea

Making warabi mochi is fun and easy but requires a few specialized ingredients. Because bracken root starch is difficult to find, you will usually find warabi mochiko starch instead. This powder, although similar in appearance to hon warabiko, is generally made of sweet potato starch, tapioca starch, or kudzu arrowroot starch.

Here is a simple recipe for making warabi mochi:


  • 80g of bracken starch
  • 500ml of water
  • 100g of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of kinako (roasted soybean powder)
  • 1 tablespoon of sweet soybean flour
  • Water, for boiling
  • Ice cubes


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the bracken starch and water and stir well.
  • In a separate saucepan, mix the sugar and 200ml of water and bring to a boil.
  • Slowly pour the bracken starch mixture into the saucepan while stirring continuously.
  • Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir for 5-10 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  • Pour the mixture into a rectangular baking dish and allow it to cool and solidify.
  • Once the warabi mochi has solidified, cut it into small pieces and set aside.
  • Boil a pot of water and add the warabi mochi Cook for 1-2 minutes, until the pieces float to the surface.
  • Remove the warabi mochi from the water and place it in a bowl of ice water to cool.

Serve the warabi mochi with kinako and sweet soybean flour.

Where to Find Warabi Mochi

Warabi mochi can be found in many traditional Japanese sweet shops and some restaurants specializing in traditional Japanese cuisine. It is also available at some specialty grocery stores and online retailers. If you are in Japan, you can find warabi mochi in almost any department store or shopping center.

Learn more about wagashi, or Japanese desserts, on our blog Essentials of Japanese Cooking: Wagashi

So, whether you’re a fan of traditional Japanese desserts or just looking to try something new, make sure to add warabi mochi to your list of must-try treats! Have you tried warabi mochi before? Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Kari Kari (カリカリ)! Get to Know Japan’s Beloved Crispy Chicken Karaage

Golden fried chicken with a side of a leafy salad and a slice of lemon

Karaage, also known as Japanese fried chicken, is a simple yet delicious dish that is loved for its signature soy and ginger flavor and light and crispy texture. Often associated with the words “kari kari” or “crispy”, in Japanese. The history of these golden brown, bite-size portions of crunchy chicken date back hundreds of years, becoming a core part of Japanese cuisine and culture today.

In appreciation of this ultimate Japanese comfort food, we’ll be exploring some of the lesser-known facts about chicken karaage to showcase its influence and popularity around the world.

White plate with crispy fried chicken over a green leaf lettuce with a small white plate with spicesWhere Does Karaage Come From?

There are a few theories on how karaage came to be in Japan. One is that the Japanese started incorporating Chinese-style fried foods into their cuisines in the Edo period, anywhere between 1600-1868.

Another theory credits the Portuguese when 16th Century missionaries arrived in Japan and brought their fried cooking methods with them.

It may come as a surprise to some, but karaage didn’t become popular across the country until after WWII, when eating more meat, and especially chicken, became the norm. Until this time, Japan was mostly pescatarian, favoring seafood or vegetarian foods due to their Buddhist beliefs.
Pan filled with hot bubbling oil and small pieces of chicken and in the foreground a pair of chopsticks holding a piece of fried chicken

Karaage’s Etymology

Karaage was originally called “tsuage” in Japan and was made using small pieces of chicken that were seasoned with salt and pepper before being fried in oil. Over time, the dish evolved and became known as karaage, which is derived from the Japanese character “唐 (kara)” which denotes its Chinese origin and “揚げ (age)”, which means “deep-fried”.

Who Makes the Best Karaage?

Japanese festival stand offering five different types of fried chicken karaage.

Not only is chicken karaage a staple for festivals and events in Japan, but there are also dedicated competitions around this specific dish to determine who has the best karaage recipe in the whole country! Every year, hundreds of thousands of people vote in a country-wide competition called the Karaage Grand Prix where over 1,000 shops compete!

Nakatsu City, a small city located in the Oita prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu, usually wins the most awards, with more than 50 karaage restaurants dedicated to the dish.

The Japan Karaage Association

So highly regarded is karaage in Japan that there is a dedicated Japan Karaage Association that focuses on training and certifying karaage specialists. One of the goals of the Japan Karaage Association is to create a comprehensive map of the best fried karaage establishments, so that anyone can find delicious karaage in Japan.

To become an association member and “Karaagenist,” applicants must pass a written test about karaage knowledge. If you pass the exam, you will receive an official business card issued by the association, deeming you fit to work as a certified karaage specialist.

Make Chicken Karaage at Home with Zojirushi

Plate with golden and crispy fried chicken karaage served with a bowl of white riceAll this talk of juicy fried chicken making you hungry? Make karaage at home in a few easy steps by following our Zojirushi Karaage Recipe. We like to add dark sesame oil and marinate our chicken in a plastic bag to lock in all of the flavors.

For more tips and tricks on how to perfect your karaage recipe, read our Mom’s Home Cooked 唐揚げ (Karaage): Japanese Fried Chicken article.

How do you like to enjoy Japanese karaage? Did you learn anything new about this dish today? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Fuwa Fuwa! Fun Facts about Japan’s Famous, Fluffy Omurice (オムライス)

Fuwa Fuwa, Fluffy Omurice

Did you know that fuwa fuwa means “fluffy fluffy” in Japanese? Whenever we hear this word, we automatically think about one of Japan’s most famous (and fluffy!) dishes: omurice. Also known as “Omelet Rice” in English, omurice is a delicious, comforting, and irresistible dish of artfully folded egg served on top of a ketchup fried rice.

But, how exactly did this dish originate? Keep reading for a brief history of one of our favorite dishes and our take on a Zojirushi omurice recipe. We can almost smell the buttery, tangy aromas of egg and ketchup in the air!

First thing’s first, what is omurice?

Eggs and rice - a perfect pairing

Eggs and rice, what a perfect pairing! Omurice is a classic Japanese dish that consists of an omelet filled with fried rice and ketchup. The word “omu” in Japanese means “to wrap,” which is why you’ll see it used in many other traditional dishes, and the combination of omu with raisu (rice) gives us the word for this dish: omurice. 

If you want to pronounce it like the Japanese do, “omurice” is a 5-syllable word pronounced as “o-mu-ra-i-su.”

Where does omurice come from?

Closeup of Omurice

Omurice is said to have been invented at a Western-inspired restaurant in Tokyo’s Ginza district when Western-style cafes were becoming widespread. It was so popular that it quickly spread all over Asia, and the world!

This type of fusion Japanese cuisine is known as “yōshoku.” Ketchup may be American, but it is actually a very popular Japanese condiment. Ketchup is one of the stars of this dish because it adds a sweet and tangy character to the dish.

The egg on top serves a purpose!

Whisking the eggs for omurice

Omelets, cooked rice and ketchup were not the only ingredients in omurice‘s infancy. The dish was born as a way to use up leftovers, which included the day’s left-over egg and meat or fish. In order to make sure that the food didn’t get soggy from sitting out for too long, it was served with an omelet on top of it so that all of its moisture would be absorbed by the egg instead of seeping through it and ruining your meal.

This method worked so well that many Japanese restaurants began serving omurice as a regular menu item—and they still do today!

From comfort food to art.

Omurice - from comfort food to fine dining

These days, omurice is available at restaurants and cafes, but it’s also available in convenience stores. And its popularity has spread to other countries as well. In fact, this dish has evolved from a simple egg and rice dish into a culinary art form.

Nowadays there are many varieties of omurice: some people add vegetables or meat or make the sauce thicker with soy sauce or mayonnaise; others make it spicy by adding chili pepper flakes…the options are truly endless.

Make Omurice at Home

Zojirushi Blog - Omurice

At Zojirushi, we like to make a classic version of omurice using leftover ingredients like chicken thigh, mushroom, onion, butter, and Worcestershire sauce. If you want some insider tips and tricks on how to make the perfect omurice, read our “Mom’s Home Cooking: Rice Omelet (Omu-rice)” article.

How do you like to enjoy omurice? Do you have your own special recipe or go-to restaurant that you’d like to share with us? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

What is Mochi? A Guide to One of Japan’s Most Iconic Dishes

When it comes to traditional Japanese foods, mochi is definitely one of the most popular. Though it is enjoyed all year long, these chewy rice cakes are especially revered on New Years Day, as it is believed to bring good luck and fortune to whoever enjoys them. Today, we’ll be diving into the deep history of this delicious Japanese snack – from how it’s made, how it’s enjoyed, and how you can make your own! Let’s dive in. 

History of Mochi 

Made with processed rice flour, mochi “rice cake” has been enjoyed in Japan for centuries, and comes in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. In Japan, locals traditionally make this in a ceremony called “mochitsuki,” where people take turns pounding the mochi with wooden mallets in a stone or wooden mortar called an usu.  but today, mochi powder has made it easy to make mochi quickly and uniformly at any time. 

It is believed that mochi was first introduced to Japan from South East Asia during the Jōmon period (c. 14,000–300 BC), with homemade production of mochi increasing during the Kofun period (c. 300–500 BC).  

How is mochi made? 

Mochi is made of mochigome (short-grain glutinous rice), where the rice is steamed, pounded, and mashed to create a chewy paste. It is then molded into its desired shape, and can be enjoyed immediately or dried for later use. It is recommended to freeze mochi if preserving it, rather than refrigerating it. 

The great thing about mochi is that it can be enjoyed both as a savory or sweet dish. When enjoying it as a savory dish, you can dip the mochi in soy sauce, or make it into a rice cake soup, or even chikira udon! 

There are many different sweet forms of mochi as well, such as, but not limited to: 

  • Daifuku (soft round mochi stuffed with red bean paste or white bean paste) 
  • Kusa mochi (green rice cakes colored and flavored with mugwort) 
  • Warabimochi (or bracken starch dusted with nutty soy bean powder)
  • Akafuku (covered in red bean paste) 
  • Chichi dango (sweet mochi served on a stick) 

New Year’s Mochi, or “Kagami Mochi 

Kagami mochi, or “mirror rice cakes”, are traditional Japanese New Year decorations made with two round mochi cakes, one large and one smaller. The smaller piece of mochi will be placed on top of the large, and a Japanese orange with an attached leaf will take its place on top. In addition, it may have a sheet of konbu and a skewer of dried persimmons under the mochi 

Traditionally, the kagami mochi was placed in various locations throughout the house at New Years’. Today it is usually placed in a household Shinto altar, or kamidana. It can also be placed in the tokonoma, a small decorated alcove in the main room of the home, as a New Year’s offering for good luck and fortune.  

Make Your Own Mochi 

Are you ready to make some mochi on your own? At Zojirushi, we like to make Butter Mochi, a sweet and slightly savory dessert that is made of rice flour, eggs, butter, and milk. Grab your Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme® Breadmaker BB-CEC20 or any of our other wonderful Zojirushi Home Bakery Breadmakers and get ready to indulge in this delicious sweet treat! 

How do you like to enjoy mochi at home? Do you have your own special mochi recipe that you’d like to share with us? Remember to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan