Japanese sweet red bean soup with mochi is called Zenzai and also Oshiruko. It is a type of Japanese sweets that is served warm and is also a winter comfort food. In the Kansai area where I come from, we always call it Zenzai and it was a special treat we got after school cross country or district marathon. I always ran for that after run treat. When it became hard to continue running, I always thought about the sweet red bean soup waiting for me at the goal!
Ebisu, familiarly called “Ebessan” in the Kansai dialect, is the deity of fisheries and business. On the 10th of January every year, the fishermans in the town gather at the shrine and pray for great fishing prospect for the year. This event is called “Toka Ebisu” and as part of the festival, there is “Mochi Maki” that is mochi throwing.
This “Mochi Maki” is such a fun thing to attend, this is my children’s favourite thing to do when we visit my home town. It can be dangerous because those people, including my mom and dad, take the mochi maki very seriously and they can be a bit savage. My mom even made a special apron for “mochi maki”. She wears this special apron that has a huge pocket in the front almost like a Kangaroo pouch! That way both her hands are free and able to shove mochi into the pocket as quick as she can! It’s extreme.
Result? All five of us grabbed almost 120 mochi and a lot of snack packets altogether. We have visited my parents at this time and excited with joy every time! After that my mother make sweet red bean soup with the mochi we collected. We gather at my parents dining table in the kitchen winter sun shining in from the window talking and laughing how fun it was.
I had Sweet red bean soup again, when we visited my uncle in Ise. Ise is famous for Ise shrine and I used to live there for nearly 10 years. There is a famous Japanese sweets shop called Akafuku. In summer they sell shaved ice with akafuku mochi with matcha syrup and in winter they sell akafuku mochi zenzai. Every time we go back to Japan, we visit my uncle and aunt in Ise. They take us to Naiku of Ise shrine and we visit oharai machi. There is a street with lots of restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and crafts shops which lead to the entrance of Ise shrine Naiku. We enjoyed sample green tea, Japanese sweets and bought souvenirs for Australian friends.
It is too hot to have this soup in Australia but those who are in Northern hemisphere, try and enjoy this special Japanese treat <3 Oh and please be careful to eat mochi. I almost forgot to warn you about the dangers of eating mochi. Some people die by eating mochi and choked to death. Please eat a little tiny bit at a time.
Sweet red bean soup
- 150 g Anko sweet red bean paste
- 1 cup 250cc water
- 2 piece of mochi
- Cook mochi by using the grill function of oven or microwave. If you use oven grill, cook for 6-7 minutes, if you use microwave, cook for 1-2 minutes. Watch it not to over cook and explode.
- In a small sauce pan, add an (sweet red bean paste) and water over medium heat.
- Stir the bean paste to mix well with water, bring to simmer and add mochi.
- After adding the mochi, cook it briefly in the soup and serve immediately.