Hanami dango are dumplings made to celebrate the arrival of spring in Japan. The dumplings are often served with green tea. This hanami dango recipe shows how to make hanami dango from shiratamako.
Table of contents
What is Hanami Dango?
Hanami dango are chewy three coloured (sanshoku) dumplings on skewers, made from shiratamako, joshinko or mochiko. It is called “Hanami” which means cherry blossom viewing as hanami dango is often consumed while flower viewing in Spring. This dango is also known as sanshoku dango.
Why the Three Colours?
These three colours are used because they are said to represent peach flowers (pink) which bloom in Spring, the pure colour of snow (white), and the beauty of new growth (green). The soft pink dango color is made by adding pink or red food colouring, while green dango is made with a type of leaf called Yomogi. White dango is just made from sweet rice flour.
Shiratamako – is made from glutinous rice. Rice is soaked and then ground with water. Shiratamako is the dried precipitated rice flour. If you can not get shiratamako, this ingredient can be substituted with Mochiko or Joshinko.
Water – I often use silken tofu rather than just water because I think tofu adds a bouncy texture to Dango, and I prefer that “mochi mochi” texture. There are two types of tofu, and for this recipe silken tofu works better to create the smooth and bouncy texture of the Dango. Of course, if you cannot get silken tofu the water and flour ratio is 1:1.
Pink or Red food coloring for pink dango. This ingredient can be substituted with strawberry powder or beetroot juice.
Matcha powder or yomogi (mugwort) for green dango
Where do You Get Ingredients?
Shiratamako can be purchased from Japanese grocery stores or Asian grocery stores. If there are no Japanese or Asian grocery stores near you, you can get shiratamako from online stores such as amazon. Nowadays though, you can purchase cheap glutinous rice flour from major supermarkets.
How to Make Hanami Dango?
Place the shiratamako, water or silken tofu, and sugar in a large bowl and mix well until it forms a dough.
Divide the dough into three equal portions.
Add the Matcha powder into one of the dough portions and knead until the dough turns green.
Add a couple of small drops of pink or red food colouring into one of the other dough portions and knead into the dough until it turns light pink.
Roll each ball of dough (green, pink, and white) into 6 uniform-sized balls.
Boil a pot of water and add the Dango balls.
Once the Dango floats to the surface of the water leave them cooking for a few minutes more, then scoop them out and put them into a bowl of cold water to halt the cooking process.
Place one green dango, one white dango, and one pink dango onto a skewer and repeat until all the Dango are gone then serve!
Tips for Making Sekihan
- When we cook ordinary rice in a rice cooker, we let the rice grain absorb some water before cooking it so that when the rice is cooked it is soft. However, do not leave glutinous rice in water if you are going to use a rice cooker or a pressure cooker, because the water absorption rate of glutinous rice is higher so there ends up being not enough water to cook it or if you add water to cook, it ends up soggy.
- Traditionally, the rice is cooked by steaming, when we did not have pressure cookers. If you are going to decide to cook this dish in the traditional way, you need to soak the rice in water for 6-8 hours and if the rice is old, it needs to be soaked for longer. Then drain the soaked liquid and steam cook the rice.
- It’s important to add the salt at the right time when cooking. Do not add the salt to the Azuki Beans. The salt makes the azuki beans firm and will not be cooked properly. The salt needs to be added when cooking the rice (after the beans have cooked).
How to Store
You can store cooked dumplings in the freezer. Dango will keep for a few months in the freezer. Scatter the balls without each ball touching each other onto a cling wrap layered flat container or plate. Cover with another sheet of cling wrap and leave it in the freezer. When the balls are frozen, put them in a ziplock bag and return them to the freezer.
What to serve with ?
Mitarashi Dango – rice dumplings on skewers coated with sweet soy glaze.
Yomogi Dango – rice dumplings made with yomogi mugwort served with kinako soy bean powder or red bean paste.
- 90 g Glutinous rice flour *1 equivalent to ¼ cup
- 90 g Water *2 or Silken tofu read above post
- 2 tbs white sugar
- 1/4 tsp Matcha powder
- A drop of Pink colouring
- Place the shiratamako, water or silken tofu, and sugar in a large bowl and mix well until it forms a dough with a wooden spatula.
- Divide the dough into three equal portions.
- Add the Matcha powder into one of the dough portions and knead until the dough turns green.
- Add a couple of small drops of pink or red food colouring into one of the other dough portions and knead into the dough until it turns light pink.
- Roll each ball of dough (green, pink, and white) into 6 uniform-sized balls.
- Boil a pot of water and add the Dango balls.
- Once the Dango floats to the surface of the water leave them cooking for a few minutes more, then scoop them out and put them into a bowl of cold water to halt the cooking process.
- Place one green dango, one white dango, and one pink dango onto a skewer and repeat until all the Dango are gone then serve!