Itâ€™s the year of the Monkey and in celebration here is something sweet to eat!
Zenzai is a dessert that can be enjoyed year round and, of course, in winter it is served hot. In some parts of Japan, zenzai or oshiruko ãŠæ±ç²‰ (the more watery version of zenzai) is served as the New Yearâ€™s main soup dish known as OzÅni ãŠé›‘ç…® (though most OzÅni consists of a variation of meat, vegetables, miso, and mochi). The zenzai is topped with either mochi é¤… or shiratama dango ç™½çŽ‰å›£å, which marks its main difference with its Chinese cousin, the much more watery hÃ³ng dÃ²u tÄng ç´…è±†æ±¤.
Â½ Cup Anko (red bean) canned or in a packet
Â½ Cup Water
A pinch of Salt
Sugar (to taste)
Note: dried red beans can also be used to make this, but it requires soaking the beans overnight and boiling them for hours on end.
- Mix together the anko and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add in a pinch of salt, mix well and turn off the heat.
Tip: Adjust the sweetness to your taste by adding sugar if itâ€™s not sweet enough or water if itâ€™s too sweet.
- Place a mochi or two or three into the toaster oven and toast â€˜til they puff up and are golden brown. The time it takes will vary from oven to oven, but about four minutes at 230Â°C should do the trick.
- Transfer the soup mixture into a bowl and top with the mochi.
- Wrap yourself in a warm blanket, sit down (preferably under a toasty kotatsu) and enjoy.
Variations: In summer, let cool, refrigerate and serve cold. In fall, if youâ€™re feeling extra fancy, top the warm zenzai with roasted chestnut halves.
Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!