Arare or Okaki proves to us that snacks do not have to contain many unhealthy additives to taste amazing. Crunchy, tasty, and versatile, it is no wonder that this is one of Japan's popular snacks.
In fact, these crackers are fun at parties. And by fun, we mean that they go perfectly well with alcohol.
If you're looking for a healthy alternative to your usual late-night snacks, you've come to the right place. Are you unsure what to do with the leftover rice cakes from your last mochi-making session? You've also come to the right place. We have the best solution to that problem!
This homemade snack is fun to make and does not require many ingredients. While some homemade Japanese snack recipes can be lengthy and tedious, we can guarantee that this recipe isn't. So, without further ado, let's make this crunchy treat in the simplest and quickest way possible!
What is Arare?
Arare is a bite-sized traditional Japanese rice cracker made from glutinous rice. You may find that some may also contain Senbei, a snack made from Uruchimai or non-glutinous rice flour.
You will also find that these snacks are often doused with soy sauce, so the snack is salty and crunchy. Moreover, it falls within the category of vegan Japanese snacks since all its ingredients are vegan!
The name of the Japanese snack refers to snow pellets since it is similar in size and shape to hailstones. In Hawaii, you would call them Kakimochi or Mochi crunch. You can also typically enjoy this sweet and salty snack as a trail mix along with some beer.
Besides that, the Japanese often prepare this snack to commemorate specific festivals. For example, Japanese people often make this snack after New Year from the leftover mochi cakes used for New Year festivities.
There are numerous flavours available for this Japanese rice cracker snack, from plain to unique such as chocolate matcha. However, these are the common ones which you can easily find and include in your Japanese snack box collection at home.
This variation gives off a mildly sweet and nutty taste. The sesame seeds also provide extra crunch to the snack. To make this flavour on your own, simply add a tablespoon of sesame seeds to the dough.
The shrimp-flavoured glutinous cracker leans more towards the savoury side with a slightly sweet and salty taste. To give an idea of its taste, it is like eating shrimp-flavoured Cheetos. You can make this cracker by adding a few teaspoons of shrimp powder or paste to the dough.
Curry is also one of the popular seasonings for this Asian snack. You can upgrade the plain version by adding curry powder to the dough, this variation adds some pleasant spice to the treat. However, it is not too spicy and makes a good treat for children as well.
Shiso-flavoured rice crackers are made with Yukari, a shiso rice seasoning. These crackers have a distinct salty and slightly tangy taste. Shiso crackers are typically reddish due to the natural colour of shiso leaves.
This type of Arare is usually a mix of sugar-coated rice crackers and a different kind of cracker that is seasoned with soy sauce. They provide a pleasant blend of sweet and salty flavours when eaten together.
You will find that many Japanese people make these bright and colourful crackers in honour of Hinamatsuri or Doll's Day. Sakura mochi is another popular treat made for this Japanese festival.
This variation consists of crackers wrapped in small pieces of dried and roasted nori seaweed. So, the rice crackers are savoury and salty. You can find variations of Norimaki crackers that have wasabi flavours to make them spicy, or Umeboshi plums to add sourness to them.
Kaki no tane Arare
Also known as 'Kaki-pi', the snack consists of crescent-shaped crackers and peanuts. It is pretty spicy with flavours such as wasabi and pepper. You can typically enjoy these Japanese snacks with alcohol.
For this variation, you would shape these crackers into tiny balls or pearls and season them with soy sauce. You can use them as a traditional garnish for Ochazuke, which is a traditional dish that soaks rice in green tea. However, the pearls also make a light, crunchy snack that you can have just by themselves.
Arare vs Okaki
The only apparent difference between Arare and Okaki is the sizes of the crackers. Okaki crackers are usually big and chunky.
On the other hand, when making Arare crackers, you cut them into smaller pieces which are typically spherical or stick-like in shape. But regardless of the shapes and sizes, the rice crackers are generally called Arare in Kanto and Okaki in Kansai.
Apart from these distinctions, both of them are the same. Both recipes use glutinous rice flour with the same preparation method.
Arare (Okaki) Ingredients
This Japanese cracker only demands three essential ingredients: glutinous rice flour, hot water, and preferred seasoning. However, you will also need some cooking oil if you're frying the crackers using the deep-frying method.
You can use premade mochi rice cakes readily available in most Asian supermarkets. However, making it from scratch using glutinous flour is a healthier option.
Moreover, you can add extra flavours to the snack simply by mixing your preferred seasoning with the flour.
For example, we recommend adding wasabi or curry powder for spicier crackers. But for this recipe, we will make the traditional Arare seasoned with soy sauce.
You can cook these Japanese rice crackers with the traditional deep-frying method. Using this method, you will have to preheat the oil to 170°C in a skillet. Then, put in the sliced rice cake pieces and deep-fry for around 5-10 minutes until they puff up.
You can dip the dough in soy sauce before frying or brush some of it over the crackers afterwards. To make it saltier, sprinkle salt over it immediately after deep frying.
Air fryer method
Alternatively, if you use an air fryer you can save more time and energy than frying crackers. Just place the crackers in the air fryer, ensuring space for them to puff up. Then spray a little bit of spray oil over them.
Set your air fryer to 180°C and fry the crackers for about 10 minutes or until they puff up. Open up the basket every now and then to flip them over so that you can evenly cook each cracker.
Once they are fried, brush them with some soy sauce and let them cool. This method will make the crackers less oily due to less oil usage. So, you can use this method to prepare the snack more healthily.
How to make Arare
The process of making glutinous rice crackers only involves four main steps.
Firstly, you will have to make the dough using glutinous rice flour, hot water, and your preferred seasoning. Afterwards, you will have to slice the kneaded dough into thin and tiny pieces.
If the rice cakes are too big, they will become Okaki. The next step is to dry the pieces for at least a week. Once the crackers are adequately dried, the final step is to fry and enjoy them.
How to make Okaki
As mentioned earlier, the process of making Arare and Okaki is the same. Making Okaki also involves making the dough, sun drying the rice cakes, and frying them.
However, Okaki is slightly bigger in size. So, you would typically cut the dough into bite-sized blocks or squares. If the pieces are too small, you'd be making Arare instead!
Use the right tools
We recommend using the right tools when kneading the glutinous rice flour, as it can be challenging. A silicone spatula might work in mixing the flour with other ingredients for flavouring.
However, it is best to use a silicone scraper with a core or one made only of silicone to knead the rice flour. We also recommend using a heat-resistant round-bottomed bowl for an easier mixing process.
How to dry the rice cakes
It is essential that you leave the rice cakes to dry before frying them. If the rice cakes are not dry enough, they will not puff up when you fry them.
Drying them will also minimise splashes from the cooking oil when frying. But most importantly, drying will make the Japanese crackers crispy and crunchy.
However, the rice cakes will easily crack if dried too quickly. To ensure the cakes are dried properly, you should dry them for at least a week. Make sure to occasionally flip them over so they can be thoroughly dried.
Making the rice cake slices thin will help make the drying process easier. Thinner pieces are easier to dry and are less likely to break. Thus, each rice cake should be 1-3 millimetres thick and laid on a flat tray in a single layer.
Alternatively, you can bake the rice cakes in an oven as a quick yet safe way to dry them. Simply place the crackers on a flat tray and bake for 15 minutes at 200°C. If you use a convection oven, bake them for 15 minutes at 15°C.
How to fry Arare and Okaki
Make sure to leave some space between the rice cakes when frying them. This added space will allow them to puff up.
Arare (Okaki) Recipe
- 100 g glutinous rice flour
- 130 ml hot water
- Cooking oil
- Soy sauce
- Kosher salt
- Yukari (optional)
- Firstly, start preparing the dough. Pour the rice flour into a heat-proof container. Then, add hot water and mix with a silicone spatula until it becomes a sticky mixture. Add another 10ml of hot water if the mixture does not hold together.
- Remove the mixture from the bottom of the container and press down on it to mix well. Then, heat the mixture in a microwave for 15 seconds. Mix well and repeat this step 2-3 times.
- Next, place the dough on a tray and spread it thinly with a rolling pin. Prepare the cracker pieces by cutting them into small rectangular pieces. Each piece should be about 1-3mm thick. Lay the Arare pieces on a flat tray and bake them in an oven at 200°C for 15 minutes.
- Add about 2 cm of cooking oil into a skillet or pot and heat it to 170°C. Then, add a few pieces of rice cakes. Add in more once small bubbles start to appear around the cakes.
- Flip over each piece of rice cake and let them cook until they puff up. Once the rice cakes have puffed up, increase the heat to 180°C. Then, fry until the crackers turn golden brown.
- Take out the rice cakes from the oil and place them on a wire rack. Brush some soy sauce over the rice cakes. Then, sprinkle a pinch of salt over them for extra seasoning.
- Serve and enjoy or keep the Arare in an airtight container for later.
- Cut the crackers into bigger bite-sized blocks to make Okaki.
- You can use other seasonings to add flavours, such as curry powder, shrimp paste, or Yukari.
- You can replace Kosher salt with table salt. Use half the amount for table salt.
- You can replace salt with sugar to make the snack sweeter.
- You can use the traditional way of sun drying the rice cakes with good ventilation for a week. However, this method will take longer for the snack to be prepared.
- The baking temperature using a convection oven is 15°C. The baking time remains 15 minutes.
- After frying, you can place the rice cakes on a plate lined with paper towels instead of a wire rack.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and is only a rough estimate.
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