Oshiruko is a sweet red bean 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 a stretch to call it a recipe. I used the leftover New Year’s mochi I had in the freezer but I’ve also used shiratama (which is what I used in that previous kabocha shiruko post), when I don’t have any mochi on hand.

I used to buy the cans of cooked azuki, but making this at home is a lot better. The canned azuki is overly sweet, so making this from scratch allows me to control the sweetness. I’ve also made a habit of drizzling coconut milk over the top before serving, which is not at all traditional, but very tasty!

Makes about 4 to 6 servings

1/2 lb dried azuki beans
4 pcs mochi or shiratama

Wash, then soak the beans in plenty of water for at least 2 hrs. Drain and rinse, then place in a medium pot and fill with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then drain and fill the pot again with water by about 2 inches. Boil until beans are soft (about 30–45 mins). Add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until sweetened to your liking. Simmer for another 15 mins, then serve with soft mochi or shiratama. If you find the oshiruko gets too thick, just thin out with more water and sugar.

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  1. Posted February 9, 2013 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Hooray for azuki! I made this from scratch for the first time a few weeks ago and completely fell in love with the flavor and texture — so much more appealing than the pre-made stuff. Still need to try your kabocha shiruko recipe, though…

  2. Andrew
    Posted February 10, 2013 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    Great recipe. I really enjoyed the kabocha recipe as well. I was wondering if you could let a novice know what the difference is between oshiruko and zenzai? I’ve been served both at times and they have always seemed similar to me. Is it just a regional name sort of thing?

  3. Posted February 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    The first time I had Oshiruko was when I celebrated Chinese New Year with my kindergarten class in Japan. It was so fun because the parents made it for the class. This was my first time in 4 years not being in Japan for Chinese New Year and I really missed it. Next year I’ll have to make my own Oshiruko!

  4. Posted February 11, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Your soup look beautiful. I really must taste it one day (which means preparing it of course, I don’t think I would find it in any restaurant here). I still find red beans and sugar one of the most unusual combinations.

  5. Posted February 13, 2013 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Andrew, I’d never heard of zenzai before. I did some quick reading and it looks like zenzai is not watery or soup-like, but thicker like a jam. It’s still made with azuki, so it’s a very close cousin. Thanks for helping me learn more about this dish!

  6. Posted February 24, 2013 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh…I love this dessert. I tried this once when I traveled to Japan many years ago and felt in love. I agree, the canned beans are way too sweet. It’s always nice to many your own and adjust the doneness and sweetness of the beans. I haven’t make this for a while. I gotta make a batch soon. :P You’ve got me craving for some now.

  7. Posted February 24, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Amy, you’re so right. Having control over making this to your taste is so worth it. Never going back to canned beans! Hope you’ve satisfied your craving! :)

  8. Joey McDowell
    Posted March 28, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    I’m making this for my Japanese Entertainment Media Club at my school. Any tips for a guy who can barely make a grilled cheese without starting a fire?

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