Guilty of snacking between meals? Everyone know that snacking is bad for both our waist and health but it is just so hard to break away from calorie-laden munchies that are just inches away from our fingertips. Fret not, nine renowned Japanese rice crackers makers have made their way down to Singapore to share a healthier snack option with you. To promote rice crackers (also known as rice ‘Okaki’ or ‘Senbei’ in Japanese) to Singaporeans, Japan Rice and Rice Industry Export Promotion Association (JRE) organised a one-day fair named ‘Rice and Shine’ to showcase their proud variety of healthy Japanese rice crackers in Singapore!
The folks at JRE are no stranger to Singapore. They were also the organiser for another Japanese rice awareness event in February 2017 where Singaporeans saw how our own local chefs create original recipes by fusing Japanese rice with local ingredients in a public cooking demonstration! This time round, ‘Rice and Shine’ focuses on yet another delicious Japanese rice product – rice crackers and of course other yummy Japanese treats too!
Before attending the event, we never knew there are so many different types of rice crackers that our Japanese friends enjoy. They vary in flavour, texture, shape and size to suit all palates and occasions! At the event, everyone got to taste Japanese rice crackers of various flavours from different prefectures in Japan and learn about the special features that make each of them unique.
While some of these rice crackers are already sold locally, many have yet to set foot on our sunny island. So we were thrilled to be among the first to sample some of these healthy crackers in Singapore!
Other than the sampling of crackers, Mr Derrick Ong of Eat Right Nutrition Consultancy also shared his insights on healthy snacking. He explained that healthy snacks should be lower in calories (generally between 100-200 kcal per serving), contain adequate amounts of either protein and/or fibre to promote satiety, and preferably also contain vitamins and minerals. Some examples of healthier snacks include a fist-sized portion of fresh fruit with Greek yoghurt, a handful of plain nuts or a wholemeal sandwich with a lean meat and salad filling.
He also suggested that rice snacks are a convenient alternative which can be easily brought along to curb hunger pangs. Rice snacks can be paired with protein foods like tuna, peanut butter or cheese to provide delicious, nutrient dense snack combinations. Alternatively, for people who are watching their calorie intake, rice snacks can be eaten on their own without too much worry as each cracker serving is normally less than 100 kcal.
Rice snacks are also suitable for people with health concerns. For people with coeliac disease, rice crackers are a great go-to gluten-free snack provided that there are no wheat additives. For people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), plain rice snacks without wheat, onion or garlic additives are a good low FODMAP snack. Finally, for people who need to watch their blood sugar levels, rice crackers which are made of whole grains like brown rice would make a lower GI snack. To show Singaporeans how to infuse rice crackers into your everyday food, Chef Javed from Punjab Grill prepared a convenient but nutritious dish at the event.
After the talks and cooking demonstrations, the limelight was turned to our nine visiting rice cracker makers. Here’s a quick round-up of what they have to offer. You can also click on their company name to visit their websites to find out more.
Founded in 1951, Amanoya started manufacturing fried rice cracker from 1954. Kabukiage, a traditional fried and flavoured with soy sauce, was invented in 1960. While kabuki and senbei are traditional Japanese thing beloved by Japanese people, kabukiage is the mixture of these two elements. You can see a slight family crest of kabuki on the surface of Kabukiage.
Founded in 1947, the confectionery celebrates their 70th anniversary this year. Committed to using 100% Japanese rice for their crackers’ ingredients, make it a point to specially selected farmers for the best rice quality. One of their signature product, Rice Style, is gluten-free and rich in fibres.
Founded in 1924, Osama specialises in okaki, which is made of rice to make rice cakes. They started to export their products to Europe in 1950 as a pioneer. Our Muslim & vegetarian friends will be thrilled to know that their okaki products are Halal-certified and vegetarian.
Founded in 1950, Kingodo Seika is committed to delivering high quality of rice cracker. They use specially selected Japanese rice and US rice as their ingredients. To avoid the unwanted smell from steamed rice cake, they always use clean water to wash the rice.
Founded in 1923, Narumiya has been producing rice crackers using 100% pure Japanese rice. It is interesting to note that Narumiya produces more than just the usual rice crackers, they also make small rice crackers which can be sprinkled over rice as crispy toppings too! Kyoto people love to savour their rice crackers over tea with their loved ones.
Founded in 1931, Bonchi is known for their innovative range of rice crackers. This time round, they have carefully selected some of their most signature products to showcase to Singaporeans, one of which being their personal favourite – Uni (sea-urchin) flavoured rice crackers.
Founded in 1948, Morihaku pursues innovative new flavours while keeping to the use of traditional rice cracker making methods. Their wide range of flavours includes Salmon mayonnaise, Ebi-mentaiko, Tom Yam Goong, Cheese Curry, Chilli Oil and many more!
Bourbon was founded in 1924 under the name Kita Nihon Seika (North Japan Confectionery). It started making candy drops using a Japanese machine before gaining sufficient popularity to enter the candy market in 1984. They are well-known for their Cheese Okaki – a perfect mixture of shoyu rice crackers and cheese enclosed within.
Sincere hospitality, tasty munchies and engaging demonstrations made a great recipe for a wonderful fair. Both locals and visitors from abroad enjoyed their time with our warm Japanese hosts. Not to worry if you have missed the Rice & Shine Fair this time, you can be sure that the good folks at JRE will soon be back with another wonderful rice product fair for you. Stay tuned!