Thursday, January 20, 2011

Iwatsuka Soy Sauce and Nori Sembei

Readers who follow the trends of what I review may have noticed that there was a time when I was reviewing pretty much one type of rice cracker (sembei) a week and that lately the frequency of such reviews has dropped greatly. This isn't because I got far fewer comments on the sembei reviews than any other type or that I perceived that they were of the lowest interest to most of my readers, though frankly I believe that is true. It is because I'd pretty much sampled most of what I wanted to and wasn't going to start buying things of dubious interest (particularly shrimp-flavored crackers) for the sake of keeping up the appearance of having an interest in sembei. I'm not a sembei poser, after all.

The only reason this is being reviewed is that it was included in the supermarket fukubukuro that I bought. This isn't the sort of thing I tend to gravitate toward though I also won't recoil from it in horror. The little flecks of nori (seaweed paper) tend to turn me off. It isn't because I hate seaweed, but rather because it can be too strong a flavor and I'm not that great a fan of the sense that I'm gnawing on chlorophyll. Since you can never predict how intense the grassiness is going to be when you have a snack with seaweed, it's easier just to pass, especially when the choice is to buy such a big bag.

It turns out that these are actually pretty mild on the seweed and have a nice savory flavor influenced mainly by soy sauce, but also by bonito (which is used for Japanese fish soup stock). None of the flavors are pronounced or individual but they tend to all come together in one mild savory mix which isn't too grassy, fishy, or salty. There are 14 two-packs in this big bag, and two crackers are 46 calories. This makes them an excellent option for a quick salty snack treat.

I was surprised that I liked these as much as I did, and I'd certainly consider getting them again. The main problem for me is that these types of "traditionally" flavored rice crackers carry a particular scent that my husband finds very off-putting so I can only eat them when he's not around. If your mate doesn't mind such things, I'd say give these a try. Since I got mine as part of my New Year's grab bag, I can't say for certain what the price is, but I'd guess they are between 180-240 yen per bag and can be had at a supermarket.


Bean Bell said...

I really want to get these types of crackers - I love nori maki crackers and think they might taste like that.
I should try and find them at my local Asian market. How do you pronounce sembei?

Diane said...

I've had the shrimp-flavored crackers and they aren't that bad! It's a pretty light flavor, as I recall.
I recommend giving them a shot one of these days.

ps thanks for your blog! I'm enjoying it a lot!

Burp and Slurp~! said...

I don't really like the crackers, but I used to love to lick them, and then throw the crackers away. Bad little girl I was!

david said...

I live in SF and love all kinds of Japanese crackers! Surprise, I was in my Japanese market today and they had this exact product! I bought them and have been trying not to eat the whole bag at once...