Mitarashi Kushi Dango

Mitarashi Kushi Dango

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 5 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
418 Calories
1g Fat
95g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5
Amount per serving
Calories 418
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 441mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 95g 35%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 25g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 13mg 1%
Iron 0mg 2%
Potassium 99mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Mitarashi kushi dango is a traditional wagashi, a Japanese sweet. There are many types of dango, and they all consist of round rice dumplings, but the ingredients vary, as do the color and flavors. The name kushi dango refers to the fact that they're skewered—3 to 5 per skewer is the norm. They are then glazed with a sweet soy glaze called mitarashi.

Most commonly found in the spring and summer, dangos are in fact eaten year-round in Japan and can be bought in stores all over the country. Most home cooks have a favorite recipe and way of finishing off this delectable but not overly sweet treat. Dangos are different from mochi as they're made from flour and not from steamed grains like mochi. They're both confections made from rice, though, and thus naturally gluten-free, and usually vegan too. To make our recipe gluten-free, simply swap the soy sauce in the glaze for tamari.

For our recipe, we used two types of flour to achieve the perfect chewiness and softness that all dangos should have: shiratamako from glutinous Japanese short-grain rice, and joshinko from regular short-grain Japanese rice. These flours give different textures to the dumplings and they're key because using only one makes them either too hard or too soft. Check your local Asian markets for the flours, the katakuriko starch, and bamboo skewers, or order them online.

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Ingredients

For the Dango:

  • 1 1/3 cups joshinko rice flour

  • 1 1/3 cups glutinous rice flour, shiratamako or mochiko

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 3/4 cup water, hot

For the Mitarashi Sauce:

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons katakuriko cornstarch, or regular cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 tablespoons water

Steps to Make It

Make the Dangos

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Mitarashi Kushi Dango ingredients

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Preheat a steamer. Combine both types of rice flour and sugar in a bowl.

    flour and sugar in a bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Gradually pour the hot water, constantly stirring with a spatula until you've achieved a rough dough.

    water added to the flour mixture

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Slowly knead with clean hands until the dough becomes smooth. The texture should feel like squeezing an earlobe.

    knead dough in a bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Divide dough into 15 equal small pieces and roll each into a small ball.

    dough balls in a steamer

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Place dumplings in preheated steamer and steam on high heat for about 10 minutes.

    dough balls in a steamer

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Allow the dumplings to cool off a little until you're able to handle, and slide 3 onto each bamboo skewer.

    dough balls on skewers

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Make the Soy Glaze

  1. Mix water, sugar, and soy sauce in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.

    sauce cooking in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Pour katakuriko starch, or cornstarch slurry, into sauce, stirring well. Bring to a boil again and turn off heat.

    sauce in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Pan-fry skewered dumplings on non-stick pan or on top of hot grill until slightly grill-marked.

    dough balls on skewers in a pan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Brush the mitarashi sauce over the dumplings and serve right away.

    Mitarashi Kushi Dango on a plate

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

How to Store Dango

There are three possible ways of safely storing the dangos:

  • After you form the round dangos but before steaming, put them in a single layer in an airtight container. They can safely be frozen for up to a month. When you're ready to use them, boil the frozen dango in water without defrosting until they float to the surface of the pot. Grill as instructed and glaze.
  • Alternatively, steam them and cool down. Pat the dangos dry and pack them into an airtight container, making sure they are not sticking to each other. Freeze for up to a month. When ready to eat them, microwave the dangos in 30-second spans until they achieve room temperature, or leave at room temperature for an hour. Grill as instructed and glaze.
  • Finally, steam and place in iced water for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature, or in the fridge covered in water overnight. Drain, pat dry, grill as instructed, and glaze.

Hanami Dango

Hanami dango is a beautiful tri-color skewer that is especially seen during the spring festivals in Japan, but widely available all year-round. The dough is colored with natural powders before steaming, and each skewer has the three distinctive colors in pink, white, and green order—pink at the top of the skewer. To make hanami dango, simply follow the instructions for the dough but divide it three once well kneaded:

  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of matcha powder into a third of the dough to make your green dough.
  • Add 1/4 teaspoon of strawberry or raspberry powder into another third of the dough to make your pink.
  • Make 5 balls from each dough, form, and steam as instructed but do not pan-fry or glaze.