Very strong wind was blowing around this week. It was a gale caused by the Storm Imogen on East coast of Britain. We started having extremely mild winter and then suddenly it became wintery winter! Cold and miserable.
On a cold day like today I feel like having something warm and comforting. There is only one thing in my mind. It must be definitely …
‘Zenzai‘ is a kind of Aduki based sweet bean stew. You can say it is a loose ‘Tsubuan‘, Sweet Azuki Bean Paste. We normally have it hot/warm (sometimes chilled as well) with a grilled ‘Mochi‘ (Rice cake) during winter season. It is sweet but you can have it as snack as well.
So How do we make ‘Zenzai’?
The ingredients are just Azuki beans, sugar, a pinch of salt and water. You can make it in almost the same way as making ‘Tsubuan‘. When Azuki beans are cooked, either mash beans in the pot or you can use a food processor. If you use the machine drain the water for blending but keep the drained water aside. Then return mashed beans into the cooking pot with the water. If lots of water is remaining adjust the amount of it before adding sugar otherwise you might need to cook long to thicken.
Add sugar and a pinch of salt. Continure cooking the mixture until it becomes the thickness you like. How soft/hard is up to you. The Zenzai in this photo is quite thick but can be slightly more watery.
If you already have Tsubuan, you can loosen the texture by adding some water to it (and with some sugar to your taste). With my Tsubuan I added about 100ml of water to about 200g of Tsubuan and heat it up for 2 portions.
If you have ‘Mochi’ Rice Cake, grill it until it becomes soft and starts rising. Add it into a boiling Zenzai.
*If you don’t have ‘Mochi’ you can make and add ‘Shiratama‘ instead like I did for these photos. ‘How to make Shiratama’ is going to follow this post.
So what this brown sweet bean stew taste like?
This brown lumpy food might look weird to your eyes but it tastes so much better than it looks. Actually I have once sold Zenzai in a street market in London. People were a little sceptical by its look, however, when they tasted it many people were really convinced and bought it from us. Somebody even says it tastes similar to Marron Glacé.
If you have Zenzai in a cafe in Japan they often serve it with something salty such as ‘Shio-konbu‘ (salty Kelp) because it gives a great contrast in flavour and it brings up the taste of Zenzai even better.
Now I just had one bowl and my body is warmed up and satisfied!
Have a wonderful Valentine’s Weekend 🙂