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Zenzai (Japanese red bean soup) served in a black bowl and topped with toasted kirimochi

Zenzai (Japanese Red Bean Soup with Toasted Mochi)

  • Author: Yuto Omura
  • Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 portions 1x


How to make sweet and comforting zenzai (Japanese red bean soup) from scratch topped with a toasted mochi rice cake. (Serves 4-6)


  • 200g adzuki beans
  • 2 litres water (1 litre for the first cook, 1 litre for the second) plus extra for topping up
  • 160-200g sugar
  • 1-2 generous pinches of salt
  • 4-6 pieces of kirimochi (rice cakes)


  1. Pour the adzuki beans into a sieve and place it over a large mixing bowl. Run cold water over the beans until covered, swish them around to wash them. Repeat 1-2 times and remove any damaged beans.
  2. Transfer the beans to a large sauce pan and add half of the water, make sure the beans are fully submerged. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. After 20 minutes, pour the beans through a colander placed over the sink to discard the first batch of water. Return the beans to the saucepan and pour in the other half of fresh water.
  4. Bring to a boil over a medium heat once more, then lower to a simmer.
  5. Place a drop lid on top of the beans and simmer for 40-70 minutes. Check it from time to time to make sure the beans are always fully submerged, add more water if necessary (about 100ml at a time). Remove any scum that forms on the surface.
  6. Once 40-60 minutes have passed, test a bean by running it under cold water and then squashing it between your thumb and forefinger. If you can spread it like a paste it's ready. If not, continue to simmer and test a bean every 10-15 minutes until thoroughly softened.
  7. When the beans are soft enough, add the sugar and mix over the heat until dissolved.
  8. Taste test to check the sweetness, if it's not sweet enough you can add more sugar. Once you're happy with the sweetness, add a generous pinch of salt to balance the flavour.
  9. Toast the kirimochi on both sides using an oven toaster or grill/broiler feature on your regular oven. (I usually place mochi on a piece of foil to prevent any sticky mess in my oven.)
  10. Place the toasted mochi in each bowl and pour the red bean soup around it.
  11. Serve an enjoy!


To store the zenzai (without mochi), transfer to a sealed container and allow to cool. Once cool, store for up to 3 days in the fridge or in the freezer for 1-2 months. 

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Simmering
  • Cuisine: Japanese

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