Kibidango: Dumplings from Momotaro, Okayama, and Hokkaido
Have you ever read the Japanese fairy tale Momotaro (桃太郎), known under the title of Peach Boy in English-speaking countries?
In the story, the peach boy Momotaro gives a food called Kibidango (きびだんご) to a talking dog, monkey, and green pheasant to befriend.
What is Kibidango?
The food’s name, Kibidango, is composed of 2 words, Kibi and Dango. And the former, Kibi (きび), can mean two different things here. Kibi (吉備) and Kibi (黍).
In the former case, the Kibi Dango (吉備団子) refers to Okayama’s specialty rice dumpling consisting of Gyuhi (求肥), as the prefecture was called Kibi Koku (吉備国) in ancient times.
Gyuhi is one of the essential ingredients for Wagashi traditional Japanese confections, made from Mochiko or Shiratamako (白玉粉) glutinous rice flour kneaded with sugar and starch syrup.
Therefore, Okayama’s Kibidango is a Gyuhi (in itself), and some makers flavor it with millet powder.
On the other hand, the latter Kibi Dango (黍団子) refers to a traditional dumpling made from millet flour, as Kibi (黍) here is the word for millet in English.
This Kibi Dango is Momotaro’s Kibidango, first appearing in a document dated March 19th, 1488.
Origin of Okayama Kibidango
Image: Goo Blog Takeo 1213
Okayama’s specialty rice dumpling Kibidango was first created by Koeido (廣榮堂), a confectionery company based in Okayama City, around 1856.
Now, in Okayama, there are two companies named Koeido producing Kibidango because the originator was divided into Koeido-Honten (廣榮堂本店) and Koeido-Takeda (廣榮堂武田).
Either way, I love Koeido’s Kibidango. The Gyuhi rice dumpling is super soft and delightfully sweet, and it now has become one of the souvenirs Okayama boasts.
Nihonichi Kibidango from Hokkaido
Japan has one more famous Kibidando named Nihonichi Kibidango (日本一きびだんご), which is entirely different from that of Okayama.
This Kibidango is a kind of Dagashi candy, sold mainly in Hokkaido, the northernmost prefecture of Japan.
The Dagashi is a Mochi-like treat made with Mochigome (餅米) glutinous rice, sugar, malt syrup, and sweet red bean paste, and the sweet has a thin wafer coating.
(Reference Pages: Wikipedia 吉備団子, 日本一きびだんご )