Japanese Language Blog

Japanese Food: Regional Munchies Posted by on Feb 5, 2009 in Uncategorized

Time for our Kyoodo Ryoori (郷土料理) series!  For those of you who don’t know, kyoodo ryoori (郷土料理) means ‘regional specialites.’  Today we’re going to take a trip to Kamakura, Kanagawa (鎌倉, 神奈).  Kamakura (鎌倉) is a city steeped in history.  Before Tookyoo (東京) became the capital city of Japan, Kamakura (鎌倉) was the foremost prosperous city in Japan.  To make a long story short, family intrigues and violent disputes amongst various clans lead to the downfall of the Kamakura (鎌倉) city.

Now, let’s get to the more interesting part: food!  Kamakura (鎌倉) is known for its senbei (せんべい).  Senbeis (せんべい) are Japanese rice crackers.  Sometimes the senbei (せんべい) is wrapped with a thin strip of seaweed.  Senbei (せんべい) come in all shapes, sizes, colors and flavors.  The most popular flavors are the senbei (せんべい) that are sweet, salty and spicy. 

Although senbei (せんべい) are low in calories, especially when compared to American potato chips, they can be quite addictive.  I finish about a half a bag in one sitting, something which I’m not to proud to share!  Anyway, when you’re eating senbei (せんべい), you’ll notice that your fingers become sticky.  The stickiness comes from the mirin (みりん) used on the senbei (せんべい).  Mirin (みりん) is used a lot in Japanese food.  It contains some alcohol content, but more importantly it contains lots of sugar.

If I were to make a suggestion, I would be careful with the round, green crackers that come with the senbei (せんべい).  These green balls look harmless.  In fact they kind of look like hardened green peas.  Guess what!  They’re not peas, they’re balls of wasabi (わさび) hardened into crackers.  Wasabi (わさび) is a VERY spicy green paste that is used as a condiment.  You see, I didn’t realize they were wasabi (わさび) balls and went straight for the green crackers because they stood out among the brown senbei (せんべい) crackers.  I basically took about 5 wasabi (わさび) balls at a time and chewed on them.  Well, all I have to say is that I’m glad I still have a functioning tongue. Lol. 

If you want to try out some senbei (せんべい) for yourself, just peruse the aisles of your local Asian grocery store!

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