Matcha Zenzai is a delicious Japanese red bean paste with soft mochi served in green tea soup. This unique sweet can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Zenzai ぜんざい (or Oshiruko お汁粉) is Azuki red bean soup, and this warm sweet is often enjoyed during cold winter. Today I made the green tea version Matcha Zenzai 抹茶ぜんざい, which is also very popular in Japanese cafes and restaurants that serve sweets.
Watch How To Make Matcha Zenzai 抹茶ぜんざいの作り方
Delicious Japanese red bean paste with soft mochi or shiratama dango in an earthy and aromatic green tea soup, enjoy this fabulous sweet hot or cold.
Enjoy Matcha Zenzai All Year Round
As many of you know, I absolutely love anything with matcha. What I like the best about this treat is that it can be enjoyed all year round. Matcha Zensai can be served cold during the hot summer days or served hot in the cold winter months.
It’s very quick to make too if you suddenly have guests visiting and need to serve some snacks or dessert. It’s a perfect little treat for tea time with your friends or after-dinner dessert for your family.
What kind of Green Tea powder for Matcha Zenzai
The traditional zenzai uses azuki red bean for the soup but this zenzai uses matcha (green tea powder) instead. Therefore, the matcha you use should be culinary quality. If you’re new to matcha or interested in which matcha brand I use, please read here.
As this is a dessert recipe and not the traditional matcha drink, sugar is added to the soup. You might already know that matcha can be bitter (well, it is bitter), so please adjust the amount of sugar in the recipe according to your liking. Keep in mind the amount of sweetness will also depend on how sweet the anko is.
Anko – Azuki Red Bean
If you use store-bought anko, it’s quite sweet already. I recommend following my recipe below exactly for your matcha soup. Homemade anko does taste much better than store-bought so if you have time, I hope you will try my Homemade Anko recipe. It’s really delicious and definitely worth spending the extra effort. If you’re purchasing anko, I recommend Ogura-an brand which has the perfect consistency for this dessert.
Mochi or Shiratama Dango
Zenzai usually includes toasted (plain) mochi or Shiratama Dango. I personally enjoy eating the red bean soup with the little charred crispy mochi, but I know Japanese rice cakes (kiri mochi) can be hard to get in some countries.
So for today’s recipe, I used shiratama dango, or sweet rice dumplings, which are made of shiratamako (glutinous/sweet rice flour). If you can can’t find shiratamako locally, substitute with mochiko which can be purchased from Amazon. Remember to use the Japanese brand of sweet rice flour as it’s made of short-grain glutinous/sweet rice.
I hope you enjoy this recipe! Thank you so much for reading, and till next time!
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
For 6 Shiratama Dango
- ¼ cup shiratamako (glutinous rice flour/sweet rice flour) or mochiko
- ¼ tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp warm water
For Matcha Zenzai
- 1 Tbsp matcha (green tea powder)
- 1-1 ½ Tbsp sugar (Adjust the amount of sugar for matcha zenzai. If you use store-bought red bean paste, it tends to be very sweet so you may want to reduce the amount of sugar.)
- 1 cup hot water (80-90ºC/176-194ºF)
- 4.2 oz red bean paste (anko) (I use "tsubuan" a chunky paste for the texture, but you can use "koshian" a fine paste)
- Gather all the ingredients.
To Make Shiratama Dango
- For shiratama dango, put ¼ cup (34 g) shiratamako and ¼ tsp sugar in a bowl and stir in 2 Tbps warm water a little bit a time until the dough is combined and smooth. Take the dough out of the bowl and roll into a ball. The texture of the dough is like squeezing an "ear lobe" (that’s how we describe this particular tenderness in Japanese).
- Divide the dough into 6 pieces.
- Roll each piece into a ball and then press the center to flatten. With the center flattened, it helps shiratama dango cook faster. Continue with the rest of pieces.
- Cook the shiratama dango in boiling water. When shiratama dango is cooked through, about 1-2 minutes, they’ll starts to float. Pick them up and soak in ice water to cool.
- Alternatively, if you want to save time, instead of making shiratama dango, you can use kiri mochi (pre-cut rice cake). Cut into 4 small pieces and toast in the toaster oven until puffed up.
To Make Matcha Zenzai
- Put 1- 1½ Tbsp sugar in a medium bowl and sift 1 Tbsp (6 g) matcha powder in a fine sieve to remove any lumps.
- Add a little bit of hot water and mix with a whisk (I used a bamboo whisk) until well combined.
- Add the rest of hot water and mix well.
- Place sweet red bean paste (anko) and shiratama dango in the serving bowls.
- Pour the green tea and garnish with a little bit of anko. I recommend enjoying it soon.