For those of you who aren’t already used to Asian snacks, this recipe might seem a little weird at first.
Trust me when I say, though, that the hardest part about eating mitarashi dango is finding the two kinds of rice flour that you need to make them! Try to buy the flours at your local Asian grocer or in the gluten-free section of your local supermarket.
Anyways, dango are simply Japanese dumplings — they’re soft, a little chewy, and only very slightly sweet.
You can find different kinds of dango all over Japan, since they’re sold in supermarkets, convenience stores, tea houses, and as street food.
Although, if you’re ever in Japan, make sure you definitely do not actually eat your street food on the street!
In Japanese culture, it’s generally considered very crass to eat or drink while walking or standing in public.
Kids can do it, but if you’re an adult, you should take your food with you to a park bench or find a secluded place to eat — otherwise you might get a few strange looks from passersby.
Mitarashi Dango • みたらし団子
*adapted from umeboss
Dango Rice Flour Dumplings
- 1 cup non-glutinous rice flour, joshinko
- 1/2 cup glutinous rice flour, mochiko
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3/4 cup hot tap water, and more if needed
- wooden skewers
Mitarashi Sweet & Salty Sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
- 3 drops orange extract
- 2 drops lemon extract
- pinch of salt
Thoroughly sift together the non-glutinous rice flour (joshinko), the glutinous rice flour (mochiko), and cornstarch.
Dig a little pit in the middle of the flour and pour in a 3/4 cup of hot tap water to start. Stir with a spatula until it all comes together, adding more hot water by the tablespoon if needed.
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead for a minute.
Pinch off bits of the dough and roll them into 1 & 1/2 inch (3 cm) balls.
Set a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Place a bowl of very cold water close by.
Working in batches of 6 ~ 8, drop the dango into the boiling water. Keep them from touching each other as best you can.
Boil for a 3 ~ 4 minutes, then gently nudge each dango with a slotted spoon to loosen them if they’ve stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Continue boiling until the dango float to the top of the water, then remove with a slotted spoon and immediately place in cold water.
Cool in the water for a few minutes, then scoop out and place on a cooling rack to dry.
Repeat until all the dango are done!
To make the mitarashi sauce, first dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water.
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small pot over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has become thick and translucent.
Once ready to dig in, simply place the dango on skewers (leaving enough room to hold one end while eating) and brush with warm mitarashi sauce.
How thick you like your mitarashi sauce is a matter of personal taste!
The mitarashi I’ve eaten while in Tokyo’s Asakusa district (not while walking — I was always ushered into a corner of the shop to stand and eat) was so thick that it’s less like a “sauce” and more like dango encased in mitarashi gelatin.
Personally, I prefer a more runny sauce on my snacks.
Also, this recipe makes a ton of dango — like, 40 or so. You can either cut the recipe in half, or you can store any uncooked dough balls in an airtight container and keep them in the refrigerator overnight.
Mitarashi dango for breakfast? Yum!