One of my family’s favorite Japanese treats is mitarashi dango. This easy recipe makes a slightly sweet and savory grilled rice dumpling that is perfect for a snack or dessert. What we find addicting is the lightly sweet and savory flavor with a bit of char and the chewy texture. It’s simple to make and has a very long history in Japan.
There are many origin stories about mitarashi dango. Some stories say that mitarashi dango dates back over 700 years in Japan and was originally used in religious ceremonies. It is named after the round bubbles of the Mitarashi, a purified water fountain found at the entrance of one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan, the famous Shimogamo shrine, which is used for washing and purifying before entering the shrine. The dango are traditionally shaped into bite sized round balls, with 3 or 5 placed on a skewer, to look like the bubbles.
The modern mitarashi dango is said to have been popularized by the Kamo Mitarashi Tea House, which opened in 1922 in Kyoto, Japan.
Today, I will share our tofu mitarashi dango recipe, which gives a lovely twist to this Japanese classic by incorporating soft tofu and our award-winning organic Hawaiian honey, Rainbow Blossom honey. With the soft tofu, this version is smoother in texture and easier to make, and on top of that, it's also a great way to include tofu in your diet!
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 1 pack of soft tofu
- 3 cups of rice flour or Mochiko for a sweeter flavor
- 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons of Rainbow Bees Rainbow Blossom honey™
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- ⅔ cup water
- 2 tablespoons katakuriko (potato starch) or corn starch as thickener (optional)
- Bamboo Skewers (soaked in water)
- Bowl of Ice water
- Grill or frying pan
Making the Dango:
- Mix the rice flour and soft tofu until it is a smooth dough.
- Roll the rice flour and tofu mixture in your hands to make it into bite-size dango balls (they should be 1-1/2 to 2 inch diameter).
- Get a pot of water to boiling rapidly. Place the dango balls into boiling water. Once they all float to the top, wait for another 2 to 3 minutes. Place the dango in a bowl of cold water for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Using a grilling or frying pan, place pan on a burner set to high.
- Take a skewer and insert through 3 or 5 dango balls.
- Brush the pan with a little canola or sunflower oil to prevent sticking, and grill the dango on high heat quickly to give only the outside a slight charring. Turn only once before removing from the pan.
- Optionally, using a kitchen torch (like the one used for our Hawaiian Honey Crème Brulée Recipe) to char the dango lets you control the charring more precise.
To make Mitarashi sauce:
- Combine sugar, Rainbow Blossom honey, soy sauce, and water into a sauce pan.
- Stir over a low heat. Your sauce will start to thicken.
- Mix the cornstarch or katakuriko with a little water to make a slurry (so there are no lumps) in a small bowl or cup.
- Slowly add a bit of slurry to the pan while vigorously stirring till the sauce thickens to your liking.
- Remove from heat once sauce is thickened and ready.
Serve your dango skewers with the warm Mitarashi sauce spooned on top of it, and enjoy! For an extra fancy presentation, sprinkle white and black sesame seeds on top as a decoration!
Variations and Tips:
We love this Tofu Mitarashi Dango recipe not only because of the added nutritional benefits of the tofu but also because it's incredibly easy to make. Here are some tips for tweaking the recipe to your preference:
- If you prefer a sweeter sauce, substitute more sugar and reduce the amount of Rainbow Blossom honey.
- For a more savory flavor, increase the amount of Rainbow Blossom Honey and reduce the sugar.
- Adjust the thickness of the Mitarashi sauce by adding either more or less katakuriko (potato starch) or cornstarch.
- Add natural food coloring to the tofu and rice flour mixture for a fun and colorful presentation. Traditionally, red, white, and green colors are used.
Making Tofu Mitarashi Dango at home is a fun and easy way to experience the taste of Japan in your kitchen. It's a wonderful recipe to bond with friends and family, especially with its customizable nature. Go ahead and try it out – I'm sure you'll fall in love with its delicate taste and unique sweet and savory flavor from our Rainbow Blossom honey and soy sauce, just like we did!