Miyagi Prefecture is in the Tohoku Region, on the Pacific east coast of Honshu, just north of Tokyo. The region is famous for its specialized cuisine. One of Miyagi's specialties is Zunda Mochi, also called Sendai Mochi (named after Miyagi's capital city). With origins dating back to the Sengoku Period or Age of Warring States (1467 to 1615), this delicacy is tied to the history of the region.
Mochi, or Japanese rice cake, is a well-known delicacy, made with pounded glutinous rice. What makes Zunda Mochi different is its distinct light green color and texture. The green color is the effect of mochi being coated with sweetened mashed edamame. Edamame is a green soybean that is found throughout Japanese cuisine. These soft and edible soybeans are gluten-free and low in calories. It also contains potassium, carbohydrates, iron, calcium, and magnesium.
To prepare Zunda Mochi, edamame beans are boiled for about 15 minutes. It is best to use fresh soybeans, but sometimes frozen edamame beans are used. When they have softened, they will be peeled and mashed. The mashed edamame will then be mixed with sugar and sometimes salt. The pre-boiled unsweetened mochi will then be coated with this edamame and sugar/salt mixture. It can now be enjoyed either lukewarm or chilled.
The taste of Zunda Mochi is quite distinct. It has a subtle sweetness combined with the softness of the mochi. It is not overly sweet, as it has a light savory flavor as well. The popularity of this dish has led to other sweets such as Zunda cake and Zunda ice cream, which have been warmly embraced by the public.
Traditionally prepared in the summer, this delicacy is now prepared and enjoyed throughout the year. In August, Zunda Mochi is the standard offering for Bon, a festival that honors the spirits of the ancestors.