Tuesday, September 18, 2007
More than 10 years ago, a Japanese neighbour taught me how to make dango with red beans topping. It wasn't until I ate the BBQed sweet soy sauce dango outside the Hase Temple in Kamakura, Japan that I got hooked on these delicious snacks skewered on a bamboo stick and grilled.
Dango (pronounced "dung-go") are little balls of glutinous rice, much like mochi and Chinese tangyuen. Dango is easy to make but the sweet soy sauce topping is a different matter. I have tried various recipes from Google, but none turned out right until the other night, my friend Tina (who's married to a Japanese and has come back last week to live in KK because, according to her husband, "Tokyo is nice but KK is the best!") pointed out that the sauce should be thickened not by starch, but by sugar. But...but...but all the recipes said to used starch...
Anyway, I've tested Tina's suggestion and she is right because without the starch the sauce tastes great and looks shinier and clearer. Tina also thinks that only Japanese glutinous rice flour makes good dango, so don't expect this to taste exactly like those in Japan. In Japan, dango are usually sold outside temples and are always sold grilled. If you want a simple snack, do make some mitarashi dango.
2 cups glutinous rice flour
3/4 to 1 cup boiling water
1 T fine sugar (optional)
1. Put flour and sugar into a bowl, pour the hot water in and stir with a pair of chopsticks till water is all absorbed. Knead with your iron hands. Add 1 0r 2 tablespoons of flour if the dough is too soft, or some water (doesn't have to be boiling) if too crumbly. It should be soft yet firm enough to hold its shape, like playdough.
2. Roll into 1 " balls and drop into a pot of boiling water.(Do not make balls too big or you'll gag because it is made of sticky rice after all.) After 2 to 3 minutes, scoop balls out when they float to the surface. Let them cool.
3. Skewer balls 3 to a stick (or leave unskewered and serve with toothpicks) and drizzle the sweet soy sauce over.
Sweet Soy Sauce
2 T Kikkoman sauce
2 T mirin
3 T fine sugar
2 to 3 t dashi granules
1/2 cup water
Boil above ingredients (you can add more sugar or soy sauce, to your preference) over medium fire till almost thick (sauce will thicken further on cooling). Cool. I prefer to make this ahead and chill it because it'll become thick and sticky.