Nov 20, 2009

Sweet Zenzai

The sweet we had at Robiraki was a sweet bean soup, called zenzai. It is especially welcome at Robiraki when the weather has turned cold and rainy and the guests leave the tea room for a short break outside. I have a request for the recipe as follows:


1 lb adzuki red beans (454 grams)
10.5 oz. white granulated sugar (300 grams)
10.5 oz dard brown sugar (300 grams)
1 Tbls. usukuchi (thin) soy sauce
mochi (sweet rice cakes) or boiled dango
roasted chestnuts (optional)

Check the beans carefully and discard any broken or off color or misshapen beans. Rinse the beans in cold water several times then soak overnight in plenty of cold water to soften. Drain and discard soaking water. Rinse beans and cover with fresh cold water. Gently bring beans to the boil and skim off the foam that comes to the top of the pot. Boil gently until the beans are soft and cooked through. (about an hour).

When beans are done, pour off the water until the beans are just barely covered. Add both the sugars and soy sauce. Bring back to boil, stirring in the sugar. Turn down the heat and simmer for another 15 minutes. Taste for sweetness. You can add sugar if not enough. Simmer until all sugar is completely dissolved. The zenzai can be served now, but tastes much better if it is allowed to cool and sit overnight in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, cut round or square mochi pieces and lightly grill until golden brown under the broiler. (Or from round balls of dango and boil until it floats). Heat the zenzai until very hot.
Place a few pieces of grilled mochi or dango in serving bowls and ladle the hot zenzai on top.

Optional you can roast and peel chestnuts and cut in half and put in the bowl with mochi and put hot zenzai on top.

This recipe makes about 20 small servings. I cut this recipe in half and reduced some of the sugar (for my taste) and had enough for 7 people for Robiraki. (5 guests, two mizuya helpers).

This also can be served over ice cream for a tasty dessert.

Go ahead make some zenzai this fall.


  1. Nice. Can I reporst this recepi at

  2. Marius, please credit Kimika Soko Takechi and Larry Sokyo Tiscornia at for this recipe. Kimika and Larry sensei in San Francisco teach sweet making workshops. See news and events on the site.