December 22, 2012

Zenzai: Japanese Sweetened Adzuki Beans Dessert Soup

I admit that I had neglected this space (again) for a while and am trying to find good excuses why I did so. But I can't find any except one convenient and fascinating iPhone application, called "Instagram".

I have been using Instagram to update some journal by a single line or two with photos, instead of updating my blog. At the end of this year, I have looked back how I neglected this little space I do adore and have decided that I would update whenever I can and I want.

Winter has come just next to us before fully enjoying colorful autumn. We had the first snow around here a week ago, accumulating 20 cm up to my calf. As a winter girl who was born in February, I don't mind having snow, looking at snow and living with snow. The only thing I can't stand in snowy season is that trains never run on time!

I should understand and I do think I understand what kind of troubles snow consequently would bring to our daily life: snow delays traffic not only trains but cars running on roads and airplanes flying up in the sky.

This is a comfort dessert, called Zenzai (Japanese sweetened adzuki beans soup), very popular not only in winter but I would say throughout the year in Japan. zenzai can be served as a cold or warm dessert. When zenzai is served cold, it's very refreshing and I could finish it like a cold drink. When served warm, it tastes differnet from the one served as a cold dessert.
I rather like serving and enjoying zenzai as a warm dessert. My family has a tradition that we serve zenzai before and after the new year time. This goes well with leftover mochi, too!  As you know, we consume quite a lot of mochi during this time of the year. And we almost always have leftover mochi on the table like It's so equivalent to the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving feast for some of you coming from places where celebrate Thanksgiving.
As yakuzen/medicinal food, this particular zenzai I made brings such a comfort to hungry stomach which is hungry for something sweet but not too sweet. Adzuki is among many kinds of beans which belongs to winter ingredients. in winter which is occupied by yin qi, it is quite hard for some of us to keep up being positive and emotionally cheering.
Every family in Japan has an own original recipe. The recipe below is my grandmother's. And Nami, my blog friend who fascinatingly and enthusiastically introduces us to delicious Japanese recipes in her blog "Just One Cookbook", has shared her own version of zenzai recipe which I believe is well-written:-) Please visit hers, too!

Benefits for: soothing mind, keeping warmth, poor circulation, filling yang qi (positive energy)

300g adzuki beans
200g sugar
1/4 tablespoon salt

Soak adzuki beans over night. If you don't have time, soak them at last few hours.

Put adzuki beans in a pan and add water which equivalents to the volume that covers adzuki beans.

Heat adzuki beans and water to boil, then strain water.

Repeat the above at least 2 or 3 times in order to remove scum of adzuki beans.

Add adzuki beans and water which covers adzuki, then heat it to boil.

As boiling it, add water little by little if water reduces and keep boiling on a low heat until beans get softened.

Remove scum as needed.

Add sugar, then salt once sugar melts.



  1. Very interesting recipe - Happy Holidays!

    1. Thank you always for your comment! Some of my American friends are not so big fan of sweetened beans if I remember correctly. They all said that beans are nmot supposed to be sweet, which I kind of understand how they think:-) I hope you will like it if you have a chance to try this recipe someday!

      Happy holidays, too!

  2. あぁ~リンクをありがとう!なんかおぜんざいのBenefitなんて書いてあったら、私毎日食べちゃうくらい、あんこ&おもち大好き派。っていうか今年の1月は、私もしかしたら毎日のように食べてたかも。うちの家族だーーーれもあんこ食べないので、いっぱい作ったら私独り占めです。いいのか分からないけど・・・。Benefitもあるし?やっぱOKということで?お餅2個はやばいかな。でも1個だとぺろっといってしまって、もうひとつあったらなーっと思うので・・・・。本当におぜんざい大好きです。こんな素敵なお椀に入れて食べたいです!

    1. 私の写真や適当なレシピより、なみさんの写真付きの丁寧なレシピの方がきっとわかりやすいと思ったから、勝手にリンクつけさせていただきました(笑)。



  3. thanx for this recipe. I am greek but during my studies in the UK I was so fortunate to have a Japanese roomate. My dear Tomoko cooked this delicious soup quite so often... I couldnt get enough of it. It tastes nothing like beans... it is so sweet and comforting! kisses from greece


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