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.
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.