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    How To Make Zenzai (Red Bean Soup) With Toasted Mochi-Japanese Taste

    How To Make Zenzai (Red Bean Soup) With Toasted Mochi

    by Ayako Kidokoro

    Autumn Bean Dessert Easy Fall Freezer-Friendly Make Ahead Mochi Only 3 Ingredients Traditional Food Under 30 Minutes Vegan Vegetarian

    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.

    Making Zenzai is simple; you only need three ingredients! If you have prepared Anko, just add water and cook. Enjoy it hot or cold, but it's a winter favorite in Japan, often paired with Mochi.

    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

    Difficulty: Easy

    • 300 g Anko (sweet red bean paste)
    • 200 ml Water
    • 2 pieces of Dried Mochi (Kirimochi)

    Expert's Tip

    Kikuya Uji Matcha Zenzai Instant Sweet Red Bean Soup 180g

    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.


    zenzai ingredients
    1) Gathering the Ingredients

    Gather the ingredients together.

    Adding anko into the pot adding water to the anko mixing the anko and water together to make the soup
    2) Combining Anko And Water in a Saucepan

    Combine anko and water in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

    Tip: We used our homemade anko for this recipe. We recommend using it as it is not as sweet as conventional anko. However, if you're in a pinch, prepackaged anko paste will do just the trick.

    placing mochi onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper placing the mochi into the oven, flipping halfway through waiting for the mochi to cook alternatively toasting the mochi in a frying pan
    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.

    finished homemade zenzai
    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! 

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