I’ve wanted to try dango since I first heard the Dango Daikazoku song in Clannad. The song was accompanied by a freaking adorable bouncing dumpling family. My dango are less adorable due to their lack of faces, personalities and perfect roundness but that’s OK. What kind of monster could eat a face/personality-having dumpling? These dumplings contain only 2 ingredients: tofu and rice flour, making them a healthy and filling snack, even with the honey topping.
Dango are a traditional Japanese sweet dumpling made from mochiko, or sweet rice flour, often served with tea. There are many varieties of dango and some are associated with a particular season or event. One of the more common versions is Mitarashi dango, which is believed to have been the very first dango recipe. It was created at a Kyoto tea house called Kamo Mitarashi, so named for its proximity to Shimogamo Shrine where purifying water (mitarashi) produced bubbles similar in appearance to dumplings. This dango was originally skewered in groups of five, each dumpling representing a primary body part. The skewers would then be grilled and drizzled with teppanyaki sauce, a sweet, soy sauce-based glaze.
I decided to prepare a tricolor dango using natural coloring, instead of food coloring. As you can see, the red dango are a little pathetic so maybe artificial coloring is best! There are two types of tricolor dango, bocchan and hanami. Bocchan are colored by eggs, anko (red bean paste) and matcha (green tea powder). Hanami dango are more well known due to their association with Sakura-viewing season. In fact, ‘hana’ means ‘flower’ and ‘mi’ means ‘to see.’ They are traditionally colored with matcha and sakura (now food coloring) to create white, pink and green dumplings.
Other dango recipes:
Tofu Dango with Honey
250 grams soft silken tofu
200 grams mochiko/sweet rice flour
1 teaspoon matcha/green tea powder
1 teaspoon anko/sweetened red bean paste (or a couple drops red food coloring)
Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil.
Measure out tofu and flour with a food scale. (If you do not have a scale, guesstimate the amount of tofu based on the package weight. Use about 2 cups of flour but be prepared to add more until the consistency of the dough is right.)
Mix tofu and flour with hands until smooth. (The mixture should feel like an earlobe. Gummy and soft but not sticky.)
Divide dough into 3 equal-size balls.
Add matcha to 1 ball, anko to another and leave the third as is. (This will make for tricolor dango skewers. If you prefer, you can leave all of the dumplings plain white.)
Line work surface with parchment paper and light dusting of flour.
Roll teaspoons of dough into balls.
Gently drop balls of dough into pot of boiling water.
Once the dumplings float, allow them to cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
Strain and allow dumplings to dry on paper towels.
Place several dumplings onto a skewer. Repeat with remaining dumplings.
Drizzle with honey and serve immediately.