Zenzai – Oshiruko (Sweet Red Bean Soup) ぜんざい

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  • Zenzai, red bean soup in bowls.

    Anko, sweetened Azuki bean paste, is used in many Japanese confectionery.  Personally, I love anything with red bean paste just like how some people are crazy about chocolate (I do love both).  I will be sharing another red bean sweet recipe in a week or two, so today I am going to share how to make Anko from scratch and a red bean dessert soup called Zenzai using Anko.


    The inspiration for making this recipe actually came from the readers of Just One Cookbook.  Some of you had told me that you can’t find canned sweetened red bean paste in your area so I prepared a How To page for this recipe.

    Koshian and Tsubuan on small plates.

    Once you make red bean paste, we can make many variation of Japanese sweets using the paste.  So far I’ve shared Red Bean PancakeRed Bean Ice Cream, and Dorayaki.  Today I’m going to share Zenzai.

    Zenzai in bowls and chopsticks on a wooden board.

    Zenzai is a traditional Japanese dessert.  It’s a thick sweet soup consists of boiled azuki beans and often served with mochi (rice cake) or shiratama dango (glutinous rice flour dumplings – Recipe here).  Oshiruko (お汁粉) or Shiruko is another name used in east of Japan where azuki beans are boiled and then crushed into paste and it has a more watery consistency than zenzai.

    Sweet azuki bean soup with sticky mochi is a comforting sweet for Japanese people in winter time.

    Zenzai with mochi in a bowl.

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    4.5 from 2 votes
    Zenzai | JustOneCookbook.com
    Zenzai (Red Bean Soup)
    Prep Time
    5 mins
    Cook Time
    5 mins
    Total Time
    10 mins
    Zenzai is a traditional Japanese dessert. It’s a thick sweet soup consists of boiled azuki beans and often served with mochi (rice cake) or shiratama dango (glutinous rice flour dumplings. This is a comforting sweet in winter time. 
    Course: Dessert
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: oshiruko, sweet red bean
    Servings: 1
    Author: Nami
    • 100 g red bean paste (anko) (100 g = 3.5 oz) (I used Tsubuan, see Notes for homemade recipe)
    • 100 ml water (100 ml = 100 g)
    • pinch salt (kosher or sea salt; use half if using table salt)
    • 1 piece kirimochi or homemade mochi (or Shiratama Dango, see Notes)
    1. Gather all the ingredients.

      Zenzai Ingredients
    2. In a saucepan, heat anko and water and bring it to a boil. Add pinch of salt and mix well. Turn off the heat.
      Zenzai 1
    3. Cut mochi in half/quarter (if you like) and place mochi in a toaster oven and toast (or bake at 400F) until puffed up and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
      Mochi 1
    4. When the mochi is nice and toasty take it out and put it in the Zenzai. Enjoy immediately but be careful and don't burn yourself.
    Recipe Notes

    Red bean paste (anko): homemade recipe, click here.

    Shiratama Dango: homemade recipe, click here.



    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.


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