Zunda mochi is a local dish of Sendai city, Miyagi in the Tohoku region. Zunda is a bean paste made by grinding green soybeans and adding sugar and salt. Zunda’s subtle sweetness and crisp texture are very delicious in harmony with the softness of the rice cake. When put in the mouth, the savory aroma of green soybeans spreads in the mouth. Whenever I go to the Tohoku region, I always eat it. The dish is also attractive with a beautiful light green bean paste.
Because green soybeans are often made in summer, it is preferred as a summer dish. Zunda, mashed to make it easier to eat, is known to be digestible and healthy. It is also a standard offering for Bon (an event to hold a memorial service to the spirits of ancestors in August in Japan). Originally it was summer food, but is now eaten regardless of season. It is one of the three major Sendai specialties of “beef tongue, sasa kama and zunda mochi”. Recently, besides rice cakes, various “Zunda sweets” such as Zunda cake and Zunda soft-serve ice cream have been released.
The origin of Zunda mochi
There are several theories about the origin of Zunda. It is mainly related to Date Masamune, a military commander of the Warring States period in Sendai.
1. Date Masamune smashed and ate green soybeans with the pattern of “Jindachi (a kind of sword)” during the battle, and it became accentuated and called “Zunda”
2. When Date Masamune was inspecting the clan, the rice cake given by the people of his domain was called “Sendai Zuda mochi”, and “Zuda” was accentuated and called “Zunda”
How to make Zunda mochi
It is not difficult to make at home if you have the ingredients. “Zunda mochi” consists only of green soybeans, rice cake, sugar and salt. I recommend making Zunda from raw green soybeans as much as possible. If you can’t get it, you can use commercially available frozen green soybeans. The following is an example of the ingredients.
Green soybean … 300 g with pods (net 150 g)
Cut rice cake … 5 pieces
Sugar …3 tablespoons (adjust the amount according to your taste)
Salt … two knobs
Green soybeans are boiled softly so that they can be easily crushed. Put green soybeans with pods in boiling water. Then reduce heat slightly and boil for about 15 minutes. If it is frozen, warm it in the microwave. Remove the beans from the pods and peel the thin skin of the beans one by one. Peeling a thin skin is a difficult task, but if the thin skin remains, Zunda texture is not good, so remove as much as possible. Add sugar and salt in warm green soybeans (If it become cold, lightly warm it in the microwave) and grind by a mortar or food processor. The crushing condition depends on your preference. In my case, I want to leave the texture of the beans so I grind it moderately. This is the end of “Zunda”.
Boil the rice cake on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. Be careful as the rice cake can be melted if the temperature is high. A little hotter than the temperature of the shower is just right. In addition, if rice cakes overlap during boiling, they stick to each other. After confirming that the rice cake has become soft, remove it and drain with kitchen paper. Finally, add Zunda to the rice cake to complete “Zunda mochi”.
As time goes by, rice cake becomes hard, so please eat early.
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