What is Dango? Everything You Want to Know + Recipe!
What is dango, anyway? How is it different than mochi? Do you eat it hot, or cold? What does it taste like? What kinds are there? Where can I get some? How do I make dango? All of these questions will be answered!
What is dango?
What's the difference between dango and mochi?
Mochi is made by steaming a special variety of glutenous rice called mochigome(餅米) and then pounding it until it becomes a soft, stretchy, sticky cake (mochi) that can be formed into a variety of shapes.
Dango, on the other hand, is made by adding water to glutenous rice flour and mixing until it becomes similarly stretchy. The sticky mixture then can then be formed into balls and steamed or boiled.
The resulting products of both methods are undoubtedly similar, and to someone who hasn't grown up eating mochi and dango, they might seem like basically the same thing. However, any Japanese person would tell you right away that they're not...
What does dango taste like?
Sanshoku/Hanami dango (pink, white, and green) are sometimes flavored with red shiso (for the pink dango) and mugwort or tea (for the green one), but these are pretty mild flavors.
Types of dango
Midarashi (mitarashi) dango (みだらし団子）
Sanshoku dango （三色団子）
Nowadays, many of these dango will be colored with dye, and the flavor of each will be the same. However, traditional stores will still use natural ingredients to color and add a subtle flavor to the dango. The pink is traditionally dyed with red shiso, and the green is traditionally dyed with Japanese mugwort.
Azukian dango (小豆餡団子）
Kinako dango (きなこ団子）
Goma dango is popular in Japan, but is really a Chinese sweet (in actuality, dango in general originally came from China, but the dangos listed above are now a part of Japanese tradition)
Where can I get some dango?
For those of you living in another country, it can be a little trickier. If you're lucky enough to have a Japanese supermarket in your city, they will probably have some dango for sale somewhere in the store. Otherwise, you can try making your own! See the recipe below.
Mitarashi Dango Recipe
You can also experiment with toasting your dango before you coat them with sauce to get more of a street food flavor!
Step 1: Make the dango
-100 grams of mochiko (glutinous rice flour)
- ~80 to ~90 grams of warm water (start with less, add more if you need)
1. Gradually mix the water into the mochiko (using a spoon, your hands, your feet, etc.)
Keep adding and mixing until the dough has a similar springiness to that of your earlobe. This might take a little experimenting to get right, but ganbatte! (Do your best!)
2. Form the dough into little balls (dango)
3. Drop the dango into a pot of boiling water and wait for them to float to the surface (about 5 minutes)
4. Remove the dango from the pot as they pop up using a skimmer, and set them aside. If you have wooden skewers, you can skewer the dango if you like, otherwise put them in a bowl to enjoy with a spoon!
Step 2: Make the sauce
-40 grams of water
-20 grams of soy sauce (preferably nice soy sauce that was opened within the past month)
-20 grams of sugar
-1/2 tablespoon of a thickener such as potato starch or corn starch
1. Put all the ingredients into a small saucepan or pot and place over medium to low heat
2. Stir continuously, being sure not to burn the sauce.
3. Cook until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. I like a thick, jelly-like sauce, but others prefer a glaze-like consistency. Make it how you like it!
4. Pour the sauce over the dango and enjoy!
Note: if the sauce is too salty or too sweet for your taste, just adjust the ratio of soy sauce and sugar
- I live in west Tokyo and spend my time thinking about food and going bouldering.