Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mitarashi Dango

Dango, for me, was one of those things that I keep bumping into but never got the chance to taste. It’s just like the Chocolate Eggnog I posted before. I don’t live in America and it’s no tradition here, so I’d never tasted it. The same way I don’t live in Japan and there’s no way you could find a place that sells dango here. Which means at some point, you’re just going to have to make it yourself! I finally got the ingredients together, but when I looked up the recipes I was convinced it was going to turn out to be a disaster. To start off with: are dango boiled or steamed or grilled? I’ve found so many different recipes and not one of them could agree on any single aspect of the recipe. So I just went with one that I felt most comfortable with: Mitarashi Dango.
After following the recipe and tasting the dango I suddenly had a whole range of questions. For one, are dango supposed to taste that floury? Or, when and how do they eat dango actually? What size are they? Do they add colour and/or taste to the tri-coloured dango you see sometimes? And lastly: how did such a plain floury ball come with such a lovely sauce?

Ingredients for the rice balls:
100 grams rice flour
100 grams glutionious rice flower
2 tablespoons sugar
150 ml warm water

Ingredients for the sauce:
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin
4+1 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Making the rice balls:
1. Sift the flours and sugar together.
2. Stir in the warm water and knead until you get a soft and smooth ball of dough.
3. Divide and roll into little balls the size of a bottle cap.
4. Boil water in a large pan and add the rice balls as soon as the water boils, preferably at once or shortly after eachother.
5. Wait until the balls start to float and leave them to boil for another 1-3 minutes.
6. Take them all out and put them into icewater to stop the boiling process.
7. Drain the balls well and skewer 3-5 balls on a skewer. Grill them at this point, if you want.

Making the sauce:
1. Add the sugar, soy sauce, mirin and 4 tablespoons water together in a small pan and bring to boil.
2. Add one tablespoon water to the cornstarch and stir. Add the mixture to the rest in the pan and stir until it dissolves.
3. Take the sauce off the fire when it’s thickened, or at least before it burns!

1. Pour as much sauce as you can over the dango. In this case, more is better! Then you’re done. Make sure you eat most of it before anyone else has a chance to taste!

Now that you finished making the recipe: didn’t kneading the rice flour dough feel amazing?! I’ve never felt anything like it. It was like using paper clay. I might have kneaded it more than really necessary just because it felt so nice.
Also, I tried to find reviews of what dango really tastes like. It tastes like floury balls! I’m glad I totally nailed it at that point. It’s also supposed to be slightly sweet, but I can’t remember if it did through the overload of sticky sweet sauce. The sauce, I found out, wasn’t thick enough, but it sounds like it had enough of the sticky and sweet. I haven’t been able to find an answer to my boil, steam or grill question though, but I can tell you they’re eaten all year round, they’re supposed to be smaller than I made them (bottle-cap size), the tri-coloured dango are flavoured with a colour as side-effect (red bean, egg and green tea) and the lovely sauce is there just because we like it!

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