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Senbei jiru

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Senbei jiru is a local food from Hachinohe city, Aomori prefecture, which is a soy sauce based soup with flour cracker called senbei in it. It is a popular food to eat in winter in that area. Senbei is a cracker made from grains such as rice and wheat. Senbei jiru uses special flour cracker called nanbu senbei, which is made by kneading flour with water, and baking in a special round mould. The texture of senbei soaked in soup is similar to dumplings, and is chewy.

It is believed that senbei jiru was first made in the end of Edo period (1603-1867), when the food culture of Edo, present Tokyo, started to change into eating grains as staple food. In that period, the most northern part of Honshu island, which is Aomori, could not produce rice because it is extremely cold in the winter. Wheat was the only grain available in Hachinohe area, and influenced to create a unique food culture of eating wheat products.

In Hachinohe area, soft and half-baked wheat senbei, which is the original of nanbu senbei, has started to be made in Edo period. People not only ate wheat senbei just as it is for snack or staple food, but also started to put senbei in soup along with vegetables, meat, and mushrooms, which eventually came to be called senbei jiru.

The way to make senbei jiru is by first making broth from chicken or pork, which will be the soup. Cut carrot and burdock root into long thin shavings, in the manner of sharpening a pencil with a knife. Stir fry chicken and vegetables together, and add broth. Season with soy sauce, sweet rice wine, and salt. Break the senbei into pieces, and put it in the pot right before eating.


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