Kimika Soko Takechi
Larry Sokyo Tiscornia
teatimes@chanoyu.com

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Zenzai
(sweet bean soup)

Ingredients:
azuki (adzuki) beans 454gm (1lb)
white granulated sugar 300gm (10.5oz)
dark brown sugar 300gm (10.5oz)
usukuchi (thin) soy sauce 1T
mochi (sweet rice cakes)
roasted chestnuts (optional)

Preparation:
Check the beans carefully and discard any that are off color or broken. Remove any small rocks. Rinse the beans in cold water several times and then soak overnight in plenty of cold water to soften. Discard soaking water, rinse and cover beans with ample fresh cold water. Bring the beans and water to the boil and skim off any foam that forms on the surface. Boil gently until the beans are cooked through, being careful not to overcook them (usually about 3/4 to 1 hour).

When the beans are ready pour off the excess cooking water leaving just enough to cover the beans. Add both the white and dark brown sugar and the soy sauce. Bring to the boil, stirring so that the sugar is mixed in well. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Taste for sweetness. If more sugar is needed it can be added at this point. If more sugar is added continue to simmer until the sugar is dissolved. The zenzai can now be served but it is much tastier to cool and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, cut round or square mochi pieces in half and lightly grill under a broiler or a toaster oven. Heat the zenzai until very hot. Place a couple of pieces of grilled mochi in individual serving bowls. Ladle the hot zenzai on top. Serve.

(If chestnuts are used, carefully peel roasted chestnuts and cut in half or thirds depending on the size. Put a few pieces of the hot roasted chestnuts in the bowl with the mochi before adding the zenzai. The chestnuts can be prepared ahead of time and warmed in a microwave oven.)

This recipe makes about 20 small (pictured) or 10 large servings.

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