Friday, January 28, 2011

Mitarashi Dango

Mitarashi Dango is a favorite among many in Japan. It has also gained popularity here in the US due to it appearing in Anime (Japanese animation) that is viewed here by some members of the younger population. This simple rice dumpling is served on a wooden skewer and topped with a sweet sauce. I learned how to make this while at my mother-in-law's house in Japan and I soon fell in love with this little bit of heaven. There are many variations of this recipe and I usually make it with a mix that my in-laws send us. However, you can make it with glutenous rice flour that can be found in local oriental markets (Mochiko) or even the kind found in health-food stores (Ener-G Sweet Rice Flour is one brand).

I prefer Mitarashi sauce, which is a mix of sugar and soy sauce, but there are also other types such as Anko (adzuki bean) and green tea dango. Kids tend to like this flavor better than some of the others, I am told, and it disappears fast when I make it at my house. The following is an adaptation of my mother-in-laws recipe, so I'll have it with both the metric and standard measurements.

Mitarashi Dango

Dango Dough

2 cups/200 grams by weight glutenous rice flour or Mochiko (the flour should not poured into the measuring cup, not packed in)
2/3 cups/160 ml warm tap water

Step 1: Mix 200 grams, by weight, of sweet rice flour (Mochiko or Ener G sweet rice flour) with 160 cc of warm water. Add water while mixing little by little. Mix by hand until you reach the consistency that feels like an ear lobe, kind of like Play-Doh that is a little on the dry side. Add more water only if it absolutely feels too dry. The dough will pick up some water while steaming, so be careful.

Step 2: Divide the dough into 5 or 6 balls. Then steam it for about 25 minutes. Bamboo steamers work the best if lined with unbleached wax paper with enough room around the edges to let the steam through.

Step 3: Once it is done steaming, put the dough in the bowl then knead the dough until it gets sticky. You can wait a few minutes if it is too hot to touch. The dough kneads best when still hot and a good tip is to wet your hands with a little cold water, making sure to have your hands mostly dry before going back to your kneading. The dough is done when it is smooth and sticks, but releases from your hand if you pull away.

Step 4: Make a ball between the size of a large marble or a ping pong ball-bite. Place on a bamboo skewer. This recipe makes about 6 skewers with four balls each.

Step 5: Grill on a grill pan until the outside turns to a lighter color. – Grilling is optional.

Mitarashi Sauce

3 Tablespoons/ 45 ml Water
1 Tablespoon/15 ml Wheat Free Tamari
2 Tablespoons/30 ml light brown cane sugar

1 teaspoon/5 ml warm water
1 teaspoon/5 ml potato starch (not flour)

Step 1: Mix water, tamari, and sugar together in a pan over medium heat.

Step 2: Once the sugar is dissolved, mix the 1 tsp warm water with the potato starch in a separate bowl and stir until dissolved.

Step 3: Pour the mixture in the pan into the bowl holding the water/potato starch mix and mix well, making sure that there are not lumps.

Step 4: Return this to the pan and continue to stir over medium heat until the color changes from cloudy to clear and bubbly. Remove from heat once it begins to bubble well and allow it to set up slightly. The sauce should be thick and have a sheen to it. Spread it over the dango balls and enjoy.

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