Ozenzai & Mochi

Ingredients for the dish

Today we decided to try a traditional Japanese New Year’s treat–おぜんざい. Ozenzai is a  red bean soup served with Mochi, or rice cakes. The soup is sweet and, well, beany. Red beans, called azuki in Japan, are a common sweet found in Asian countries, and while many non-Asians find the idea of beans for dessert to be wrong and sometimes disturbing, they can absolutely delicious. Often mashed and used as a filling in buns and dumplings, they are also sometimes made into paste or in this case, soup.

 

 

Boiling the Soup

We live in an age of convenience. Here’s my bag of ready-made soup boiling happily on the stove. 6-8 minutes in a pot of hot water and it’s ready to go! Sweet soups seem fairly unusual to my western sensibilities, though I do remember having quite a lot of delicious strawberry soup the summer I lived in Prague. Do you ever eat soup for dessert?

 

 

 

 

Boiling the mochi

Mochi is a delicious treat made of rice smashed and pounded within an inch of its life until it no longer resembles the  grain it came from. It can be grilled or boiled, sweet or savory, and is incredibly versatile and delicious, without really having much flavor at all. This is a neat little device to boil your mochi in the microwave, with built-in strainer. So convenient!

 

 

The finished product

The finished product–a nice hot bowl of red bean soup with a sticky rice cake on top. This time the mochi was just microwaved, but it’s even better grilled. Toss it in the broiler for a few seconds after boiling, and it’s AMAZING. Crispy and chewy and soft and sticky.

Would you want this for dessert?

 

 

So chewy!

Great success! Sticky, chewy, and delicious. Sean isn’t such a big fan, but he prefers his mochi savory. I enjoy savory mochi too, but I love sweets and this soup is no exception. The mochi stretches like cheese on a pizza, but there’s no cheesy flavor here! Just a hint of rice and the sweet taste of azuki. It’s filling and satisfying, without being creamy or rich in any way. The traditional Japanese diet tends to be low in dairy and fat, and even the desserts are no exception. This seems like a fairly healthy dessert to me, and it’s yummy too! おいしい!

What do you think, would you try it? If you have tried it, did you like it?

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About superhappyawesome

Living in Japan!
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13 Responses to Ozenzai & Mochi

  1. Rebekah C says:

    Well I admit, I would never have looked at that and said to myself “Yummy, beans for desert!” But now that you’ve described it I want to try it! I like moki but I’ve never had it savory. That sounds awesome, too. ;)

  2. I’m not a fan of either red beans nor mochi (not unless it’s like… wrapped around chocolate, or dango) so… this isn’t for me :( But I’m glad that you enjoyed it and I’m sure that many others would as well.

  3. Kat says:

    I absolutely love mochi and azuki, so I’d probably subsist solely on this if I could. :D

  4. Judith says:

    I would definitely try it. I love azuki and mochi. My grandma used to make a sweet soup by boiling dried fruit (usually prunes, apricot, pears and apples) for hours and then adding sago and dumpling. Delicious!

    • Sweet soup! Haha, I’m excited that someone else has had sweet soup :D Where is your Grandmother from, Judith? What kind of dumplings? I don’t actually know what sago is, but I’m assuming its tasty :D

      • Judith says:

        My grandma is from Germany. She loved sweet stuff. Would cook anything with sugar, even sprinkle it on salads (it did make them tastier). Sago is little granules of starch, they are white before you cook them and then turn transparent in the soup. It doesn’t have that much taste on its own but gives the soup a nicer texture.
        The dumplings were just flour, sugar and milk. They would be really squishy. Mmm, getting hungry now.

  5. umebossy says:

    Azuki/anko is one thing that I’ve never entirely come around to in my time here sadly. I don’t mind it and will eat it when served it but I never go out my way to choose it! I think it might stem from my utter disappointment when, after a couple of months here and still mostly illiterate I enthusiastically bit into what I thought was a jam (jelly) doughnut only to find an inside.

    Now mochi on the other hand… think I might need to go and fire a piece of kirimochi under the grill after typing this! Yum :)

    • I think that’s what turns a lot of people off to it–if you think it’s something else, a beany surprise can be pretty terrible! I know a lot of people that think it’s chocolate, only to be severely disappointed.

      We’ve been grilling up kirimochi all week. Delicious!

  6. Lisa says:

    I love that stuff! ^^
    But now I want some, and I don’t have any. Darn it. >.<
    (=and I'm also too lazy to actively do anything about it. ;))

  7. Lauren G says:

    Alice, I’m pretty sure you can survive on just sweets alone. ^_^

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