Zenzai is a traditional Japanese sweet soup made with sweet azuki beans, typically topped with mochi rice cakes or Shiratama dango (glutinous rice flour dumplings).
It may look like a soup, but it's a sweet dessert soup. Being primarily made from Anko, sweet red bean paste, it carries a delightful sweetness. The combination of Anko and mochi creates a delicious harmony.
Two theories surround its name. First, it might be derived from the Buddhist term 'Zenzai,' meaning 'wonderful' in Sanskrit. The second theory suggests a connection to 'Jinzai-mochi,' a rice cake served at the Shinto rituals of Izumo Shrine in Shimane Prefecture, evolving into 'Zenzai' over time.
Zenzai and Oshiruko are essentially the same dishes, but regional differences exist from Kansai (around Kyoto and Osaka) to Kanto (around Tokyo). Both use Anko, but the name may vary based on the type of bean (chunky or smooth) or the amount of soup.
It's common to serve Zenzai with something salty, like Shio Kombu. Store Zenzai in a lidded container in the fridge for up to three days. For excess, freeze it for 1-2 months, thaw in the fridge, and reheat in a pan before enjoying.
Indulge in this winter dessert and warm up yourself!
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Total servings: 2
- 300 g Anko (sweet red bean paste)
- 200 ml Water
- 2 pieces of Dried Mochi (Kirimochi)
Standard Zenzai is delicious, but if you're a matcha lover, why not try Matcha Zenzai? The combination of the sweetness of Azuki red beans and the refreshing bitterness of matcha can't go wrong. Uji matcha, one of the best kinds, is used to make it even more special.
1) Gathering the Ingredients
Gather the ingredients together.
2) Combining Anko And Water in a Saucepan
Combine anko and water in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
3) Preparing the Mochi
Place the mochi in the oven and bake at 180°C (350°F) for 15 minutes without preheating. Flip it over halfway through baking.
Tip: If you have a toaster oven, it's common to bake mochi using it, as demonstrated in our ozoni recipe. You can also bake mochi in a frying pan.
4) Enjoying Your Homemade Zenzai
Add the zenzai into a bowl and top with the toasted mochi to complete the dish. We recommend serving it with a side of shio kombu. Enjoy!