Dango is a general name for small ball-shaped mochi dumplings. Usually the mochi itself is not sweetened, but toppings and sauces are. Dango are often skewered on bamboo sticks so they are easier (and more fun!) to eat. Dango are a more casual and everyday kind of traditional Japanese sweet (how elegant could it be being on skewers?) than some other formal desserts used in tea ceremony and such.
Dango can be made from different types of flour like Mochiko or Shiratamako which are made from sweet rice, and Joshinko from Japanese sticky rice. Because it is easier to find Mochiko (Koda farm brand) in a lot of grocery stores in the US, we used Mochiko in this recipe. Shiratamako, which can be found at Japanese grocery stores, works just fine too. We would not recommend to use random rice flour (other than Joshinko) because we don’t know what type of rice is used to make the flour and it may not come out glutenous enough.
There are a lot of ways to eat these chewy little morsels. Our basic Dango do not have much flavor alone, so there should be something to eat with them. Here we used Anko sweet red beans over Dango, the simplest way to eat them. Or, you could dip them in Kinako (soybean flour) with sugar or Kuromitsu (dark brown sugar syrup). You could grill them and pour on Mitarashi (sweet soy) sauce. When it’s hot out, you could put Dango balls on shaved ice. In winter, you can eat Dango with warm sweet red bean soup. The sky’s the limit!
The ingredients could not be simpler: Mochiko and tofu. It’s better to use silken (soft) tofu to have a smooth texture. Tofu makes Dango moist and soft longer than just using water. You may need to adjust the amount of Tofu depending on what you are using because the water content is often different by brand. The Dango won’t taste like tofu unless you know what’s in it (so you might taste soy bean flavor a little since you know it). If you get to know how to make this versatile Dango, you’ll be able to enjoy making a lot of different kinds of Japanese sweets later.
- 250g Tofu
- 200g Mochiko (or Shiratamako)
- In a bowl, mix Tofu and Mochiko well with hand. The dough should be not too loose nor too firm (about the firmness of an earlobe).
- Scoop out heaping teaspoons and roll into balls.
- Boil water in a large pot, and cook the dough balls until they float. Once they float in the boiling water, cook 2-3 minutes longer, then remove from the water using a mesh strainer (or ladle) and place onto a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Serve Dango with Anko if you like.