It's a logical response. Let me explain: Back in the day, when my food magazine internships would end, I would spend the night before baking batches of the corn- and rice-spliced cereal, gingerly coating the kernels with a shoyu-laced syrup and tons of furikake (the sesame seed and nori kind, not the fishy ones). Then I would bundle them in little bags and bashfully make my way to all the editors I worked with (read: idolized) to give them the goods.
I tried baking chocolate chip cookies instead once, but I freaked out mid-oven sesh, and they ended up way overdone. So that's why I eventually went with arare, a Japanese word that translates to "snow pellets" and refers to rice cracker snack mixes. It became sort of a catchall for Japanese snacks for me at home growing up in Southern California.
This recipe is minimal compared to others—no nuts, Bugles or Honeycomb—just like my mom likes it. She took it from the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center's cookbook, compiled by the Nisei (second-generation Japanese Americans) to raise money for the organization. "That generation were all wives of farmers. They cooked and didn't go out to eat," she told me over the phone. "I bought it because they have nice recipes that they're trying to carry on from generation to generation."
She made it for road trips, church gatherings at our home or just because. And after shyly sharing this mix with my coworkers and watching them eat handful after handful, only stopping themselves to make sure we had enough to shoot a photo, I realized I should do the same. Arare can be for all the time, not just goodbyes.
Recipe adapted from Debi Inamine
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, plus 10 minutes for cooling
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
4 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup corn syrup
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 box (9½ cups) Crispix cereal
½ cup nori furikake (seaweed and sesame mix)
1. Preheat the oven to 250°. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter.
2. In a small saucepan, melt together the butter, oil, corn syrup, sugar and soy sauce over medium heat. Stir until the ingredients are well incorporated and the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes, then remove from the heat.
3. Add the Crispix to the greased dish and spread into an even layer, then slowly pour the syrup mixture over to coat thoroughly. Sprinkle the furikake a little at a time, so it doesn't clump, while stirring carefully to not crush the cereal.
4. Bake on the center rack, stirring gently every 15 minutes, until the syrup thickens and little chunks of cereal flakes form, 1 hour.
5. Spread the Crispix over a parchment paper-lined sheet tray and let cool for about 10 minutes. Serve right away in a big bowl or store in a sealed container for up to 3 days.