Iím always amazed at how creative the Japanese can get with so few ingredients. Mochi and an (red bean paste) are found in both sweet and savory dishes from ice cream to soup. Non-Japanese are familiar with the traditional ozoni or New Yearís soup of fish broth, mizuna and mochi dumplings, but less so with oshiruko, another delicious soup.
Oshiruko (the ďoĒ is a prefix attached to show formality or reverence to some root words) is a very simple soup to make if you have prepared anko, sweetened red bean paste. Anko or an can be purchased but it is very easy to make from dried red beans. Wash and boil red azuki beans with water, sugar and a pinch of salt until the beans are soft enough to mash into a thick paste. How much water? Pour in enough to cover the beans, adding a bit more if needed as it boils. How much sugar? Depends on how sweet you like it, but itís good to start with a cup and a half of sugar to 12 oz. package of red azuki beans. Here is the complete recipe: [url=http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art24859.asp]Anko, Tsubushi-an or Shiro-an Recipe[/url].
But back to the soup! It calls for mochi cakes which you can make yourself or buy packaged. Roast them under a broiler until they are soft, puffy and develop golden spots here and there. I just love the toasty parts! If you arenít fortunate enough to have an Asian market nearby, you can buy online or make your own (with ingredients bought online). Check out the BellaOnline Japanese site recipes for making mochi using a rice cooker, microwave or stovetop. If you use fresh and soft mochi, let the cakes dry out just a bit before toasting.
1 lb. prepared anko
1 Ĺ to 2 cups water
pinch of salt
In a large pot, blend together the prepared anko and enough water to reach the desired consistency of soup. Some like it thinner; other slightly thicker. Add salt. Bring this to a simmer.
Toast mochi cakes under a broiler until they are soft and puffy. Pour soup into small bowls and float a few toasted mochi on top. Serve hot.