Kabocha Shiruko

I can’t say enough good things about this oshiruko. Oshiruko is a sweet porridge traditionally made with azuki beans and a few pieces of shiratama (dumplings made of shiratamako—glutinous rice flour). This recipe uses kabocha instead, blending it with creamy coconut milk and condensed milk to allow the natural, earthy sweetness of the kabocha to shine. Add the chewy shiratama into the equation and it’s perfection.


For me, oshiruko is firmly associated with New Year’s at my aunt Midori’s house in Hiratsuka. My family had a tradition of watching Kouhaku and then, when it struck midnight, we’d walk to the nearby shrine. The whole neighborhood would gather, waiting in line for the first prayer of the new year. As we waited in the cold, volunteers would hand out small portions of oshiruko to everyone. It’s the Japanese equivalent of hot cocoa—sweet, warm, and more importantly, comforting.

This recipe is easy to prepare, but even easier if you have a microwave and blender (I used neither and it was still a breeze). Aside from locating the ingredients, the hardest—and most dangerous—part is cutting into the kabocha. The original recipe says to top with sweetened azuki beans, but I don’t think it needs it.

Entertaining over the holidays? You can make this in advance and warm when you’re ready to serve. It might be a nice surprise ending to an otherwise predictable meal.


Kabocha Shiruko
かぼちゃ汁粉
Adapted from わたしの味びに選んだ80のレシピ
Makes 4 servings

1/8 kabocha (about 8.75 oz / 250 g)
scant 1 cup (200 ml) coconut milk
scant 1/2 cup (100 ml) condensed milk
pinch of salt
7 oz (200 g) shiratamako
1 Tbsp sugar
approximately 1/2 cup (100 ml) water
boiled azuki beans (optional)

Peel the skin off the kabocha with a sharp vegetable peeler and cut into small bite-sized pieces (watch those fingers!). Steam for 4–6 mins OR line a microwave-safe bowl with paper towel, place the kabocha inside, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 4 mins. Test doneness by piercing the kabocha with a toothpick or skewer. If firm, cover again and steam/microwave.

If using a blender, put the kabocha in a blender with the coconut milk and condensed milk and blend until smooth.

If doing this by hand, mash the kabocha in a bowl (if you used the microwave, just remove the paper towel). I then passed it through a sieve, but if you have a nice consistency, I don’t think you need this step.

Whisk together the kabocha, coconut milk, and condensed milk in a pan over low heat. Add a pinch of salt. While this is warming, prepare the shiratamako by placing it in a bowl with the sugar and adding water very slowly. Once it forms a dough about the softness of your earlobe, divide into 12 pieces and roll to form a ball.

Bring a pot to boil and cook the shiratama until they float to the surface. This indicates they are done. Strain excess water and serve in a small bowl with the kabocha soup. Top with azuki beans, if using.

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12 Comments

  1. Posted November 17, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    I always fail at making nice chewy mochis!

  2. Posted November 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Jesica, make sure you’re using glutinous rice flour (shiratamako and not just mochiko). Maybe that’s it?

  3. Posted November 18, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    I make kabocha porridge quite often but have never tried with coconut milk or milk. It sounds really good, and I will definitely try it.

  4. Posted November 18, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Hyosun, I really love the mellow sweetness from the coconut milk. Hope you like it too!

  5. Ting
    Posted November 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I love your recipes. I have tried and loved many of them. This one looks special and delicious. Thank you so much for sharing!

  6. Meg
    Posted December 7, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    I tried this recipe over the weekend. It was very pretty, but I wanted to ask: does condensed milk mean sweetened condensed milk? I wasn’t sure so I used evaporated milk, but then I tasted it and decided to sweeten it with some honey.

  7. Posted December 8, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Meg, condensed milk and evaporated milk are totally different! Condensed milk is thick and always sweetened (I’ve never seen it otherwise) and evaporated milk is watery. Maybe you arrived at a healthier version, but hope you try it again with condensed milk!

  8. Posted December 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    so glad to see some new recipes up! I still make a few of your recipes every month!
    I’m in L.A. for a three week visit and am looking forward to eating good food, wondering if you can recommend some places? I’ll definitely be checking out Daikokuya, the place you wrote about earlier, but would love some other recommendations, doesn’t necessarily have to be Japanese places. Thank you so much!

  9. Posted December 19, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Chamindika, LA has so many great places to eat! Here are some of my favorite places:

    Sushi Gen, Japanese
    Hands down my favorite sushi restaurant. Sit at the bar, if you can, and ask for recommendations. Go early or prepare to wait.
    Toshi SushI, Japanese
    I love the chirashi sushi here—if you go at lunch, it’s a great deal. They’ve been open a few years and the sushi is good. Not usually crowded.
    Tasty Noodle House, Chinese
    Love their potato and jalapeno stirfry and their schezwan eggplant. Yum!
    Golden Deli, Vietnamese
    THE place to go for Vietnamese. Their cha gio, pho, and bun dishes are amazing.
    Saladang/Saladang Song, Thai
    Great Thai food and great architecture and interior design.
    Angelini Osteria, Italian
    My husband and i go here for special occasions. We went to Italy for our honeymoon and this place makes us feel like we’re revisiting. Their food is top-notch.
    Pizzeria Mozza, Italian
    Best pizza ever. Their crust is irresistable—the perfect blend of crispy and chewy.
    The Golden State, Burgers
    Best burgers ever. I hear Father’s Office is also good, but haven’t been there yet.
    The Oinkster, “Slow Fast Food”
    They are known for their pulled pork, pastrami, and their belgium fries. Homemade ketchups and aioli and great selection of beers.
    Polka Restaurant, Polish
    This random place is so unique. The food is good and it feels like you’re in someone’s quirky home.

    Enjoy your time in LA and hope you get to have lots of good eats!! Thanks, as always, for reading and keeping up with this blog!

  10. Posted January 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    This comment is a bit overdue, but I couldn’t let this post go without saying something. Lovely photos, as always, and I love that this dish (shiruko, if not this exact version) has some meaning for you on a personal level. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Aya
    Posted May 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    I just made this last night and it turned out great! My friends and mom were thoroughly impressed ;). Thank you for another awesome and nostalgic recipe!

  12. Posted May 16, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Aya, I’m so happy it was a hit!

One Trackback

  • By Oshiruko on February 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    […] soup with mochi, often served around New Year’s. I made a contemporary version of it with kabocha, but this is the traditional way it’s prepared. The method is simple, so it’s a bit of […]

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