Zenzai vs Oshiruko : 2 Types of Japanese Red Bean Soup

During the cold winter months, we Japanese often have various dishes with baked “Mochi (餅)” sticky plain glutinous rice cakes.

Representative examples of such Japanese mochi dishes include these 3 easy dishes whose recipes I introduced before, “Zoni (雑煮)”, “Zenzai (ぜんざい)” and “Oshiruko (おしるこ)”, sometimes simply called “Shiruko (汁粉)”.

The Difference between Zenzai and O-Shiruko

Kansai-Style Zenzai with Baked MochiKansai-style Zenzai

When it comes to the last 2 mochi dishes mentioned above, actually Zenzai is a Japanese red bean soup dish nearly identical in appearance to Shiruko.

Zenzai and Oshiruko are both traditionally made by simmering red beans (typically Azuki beans), sweetened with sugar, and often served with baked mochi rice cakes.

Then, what is the difference been these 2 Japanese red bean soups?

Zenzai (ぜんざい)

Kanto-Style Zenzai with Baked MochiKanto-style Zenzai

In the Kanto region around Tokyo, Zenzai generally refers to a little most, sweet red bean paste itself, whereas, in the Kansai region around Osaka, the hot soup with chunky, coarse sweetened red bean paste called “Tsubu-An (粒餡)” is referred to as Zenzai.

In Kansai, the Kanto-version Zenzai, the dish mainly consisting of a little moist sweetened red bean paste is known as “Kameyama (亀山)” or “Ogura (小倉)”, by the way.

Oshiruko (おしるこ)

Kansai-Style Oshiruko with Baked MochiKansai-style Oshiruko

In Kanto, Oshiruko refers to sweet red bean soup in general. Meanwhile, in Kansai, Oshiruko refers to the soup made with smooth sweetened red bean paste called “Koshi-An (漉し餡)“.

Comparison Table 

Region Zenzai Oshiruko
Kanto A little moist sweetened red bean paste itself Sweet red bean soup
Kansai Red bean soup with Tsubu-An paste Red bean soup with Koshi-An paste

Finally, the above is the comparison table of the difference between Zenzai and Oshiruko red bean soups.

Related Product
Amono Foods Freeze-Dry Instant Oshiruko Soup

(Reference page : Wikipedia ぜんざい )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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