While we celebrated Cinco de Mayo last weekend, the Japanese celebrated the Children’s Day (formally Boys’ Day) on May 5th. Even though that was over a week ago, I didn’t have a chance to talk about it till now so let me share what I prepared for the celebration.
In Japan, there are several annual celebrations related to children and we decorate our houses with special displays. On The Doll’s Festival (Girl’s Day) in March, we would display the set of the traditional Emperor and Empress dolls dressed in kimono. On the Children’s Day, we would display Kabuto (ancient Japanese warrior helmet) and armor.
Usually on this day the Japanese eat Kashiwa Mochi (柏餅 picture on left). It’s a round shape mochi filled with anko (sweet red bean paste) and wrapped with an oak leaf. I tried to find oak leaves at every Japanese supermarket in my area so that I can make Kashiwa Mochi but had no luck. So in the end, I just bought the premade Kashiwa Mochi from the store and I decided to make a different wagashi (Japanese sweets) to share with you.
This sweet is called Mitarashi Dango (みたらし団子). It’s a type of dango (sweet dumplings) skewered onto sticks. Usually 3-5 dangos (traditionally 5) are covered with a sweet soy sauce glaze. Mitarashi Dango was originated from the Kamo Mitarashi Tea House in Kyoto. The ingredients are similar to Strawberry Daifuku (Strawberry Mochi) but much easier to make so I hope you give it a try!
- 3 1/2 oz (100g) Joshinko (Rice Flour)
- 3 1/2 oz (100g) Shiratamako/mochiko (Sweet/Glutinous Rice Flour)
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 2/3 cup (150ml) warm water
- 24 Bamboo skewers
- 5 Tbsp. sugar (adjust sweetness to your liking)
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. mirin
- 4 Tbsp. water
- 1 Tbsp. corn starch
- 1 Tbsp. water for dissolving corn starch
- Combine Shiratamako, Joshinko, and sugar in a bowl.
- Stir in warm water a little bit a time and knead slowly until the dough becomes smooth. The texture is like squeezing an "ear lobe" (that’s how we describe the tenderness for this type of mochi in Japanese).
- Divide into 2 equal pieces until you have 8 balls. Then divide each one into 3 equal sized balls. You will end up with 24 pieces.
- Gently place dango in the large pot of boiling water.
- Dango will stay on the bottom first but they will start floating on the surface. Then cook dango for 1 minute. Remove from pot and transfer into ice water.
- Drain well and put three pieces into a bamboo skewer.
- On the stove top, place the skewered dango on the grill on direct heat over medium high for 4 minute and rotate slowly to char (or you can heat a pan and brush with a little oil and grill on it).
- For sauce, combine sugar, soy sauce, mirin and water in a saucepan. Stir occasionally and bring it to a boil.
- Once it boils, add the corn starch and water mixture to the sauce and make sure it dissolves well. After the sauce thickens, turn off the heat.
- Place dango on a plate. Using a brush, coat with sweet soy sauce on dango. Serve dango with green tea.
3 ways to keep Dango:
1) After you form into round dango (Step #3), you put them in a single layer in air tight container. Freeze up to a month. When you use them, boil the frozen dango without defrosting.
2) After cooling down (Step #5), pat dry and pack into air tight container without sticking to each other. Freeze up to a month. When you use them, microwave till they are at room temperature.
3) To keep just for few hours, you can save them in ice water, or in water kept in refrigerator.
If you like anko (sweet red bean paste), you can put your homemade anko on top of dango to enjoy.