Oshiruko is basically a sweet red bean soup with mochi (rice cake). It is a Japanese comfort food, which is particularly popular in winter. This article presents what it is, the difference between oshiruko and a similar dish called "zenzai", and also an easy recipe so you can enjoy it at home!
Oshiruko (おしるこ/お汁粉) is a Japanese traditional dessert which is made of a sweet red bean (called "anko" in Japanese) soup and mochi (rice cakes). It is one of the comfort foods commonly eaten in winter. The custom of eating oshiruko is especially strong at the beginning of January, because people celebrate the new year by eating lots of mochi.
Oshiruko vs Zenzai
There is actually a very similar dessert called "zenzai (ぜんざい)". What is the difference between them? The answer is a bit complicated because how people distinguish oshiruko from zenzai varies from region to region.
This is zenzai
In the eastern Japan, which includes Tokyo, oshiruko means the dessert just described consisting of a hot soup while zenzai is basically soup-less version. Zenzai is sometimes served cold too in summer. People use either red bean paste or chunks of red beans.
This is zenzai for the people in the western Japan
In the western Japan, in places such as Osaka and Kyoto, oshiruko soup is made from smooth red bean paste while zenzai soup is made from chunky red beans. Both have a soup and are always served hot.
How to make
-200g red bean paste (anko) -200ml water -2~4 pieces of mochi
1. Put the red bean paste and water in a pot to heat and mix. You can use either smooth paste or a chunky one. Both might be available in an Asian market or online. 2. Place the mochi in a toaster to grill until they get browned. 3. Pour the soup into small bowls, then top with a mochi and you're done!
Oshiruko is such a common winter dessert which is loved by people of all ages! It is super easy to make, so just give it a try at your home and get yourself warm!