Zenzai with Mochi Rice Balls


A friend once told me that they had these weird desserts in Japan made out of beans… I had to laugh because one of those “weird desserts” was on the menu for dinner that night. Zenzai. Far from weird, this wonderful dessert is made from azuki beans. Zenzai can be served warmed or chilled. This thick and sweetened soup is perfect over shaved ice, over a grilled rice cake, or with rice dumplings (as pictured here).

Zenzai has been a quintessential favorite of our family for as long as I can remember. I ate this as a child, I make this for my children and I hope they continue the tradition one day in their own households.

This Zenzai recipe uses prepared sweet beans. I serve zenzai with shiratama dango, or mochi rice ball dumplings. Shiratama dango are dumplings made from mochiko. You can find that recipe here.


1  14-15 oz can prepared sweet red bean paste

2  cups water

1 tsp wakame

1/2 tsp salt

Mochi dumplings (optional)


In a medium pot over medium heat, add sweet red bean paste and water. Mix well. Add wakame and 1/2 tsp salt. Bring to a slight boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer 15 minutes. Add mochi dumplings.





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