Dango: 10 Common Types of Japanese Rice Dumplings
When it comes to the foods often eaten at Japan’s cherry blossom viewing festivals called “Hanami (花見)”, “Dango (団子)” is one of the confections that are most familiar to us Japanese.
Dango (団子) Rice Dumplings
Dango is a traditional Japanese cereal dumpling typically made from non-glutinous “Uruchi (うるち)” rice flour, but additionally, a variety of cereal powder, such as barley, wheat, millet, buckwheat, or soybeans, can also be the main ingredient.
Unlike cooked Mochi rice cake, a Dango rice dumpling is neither that sticky nor stretchy and has a small round shape. Besides, it usually consists of three to five rice dumplings skewered on a wooden or bamboo stick.
Dango actually comes in many varieties, but if I give 10 examples of the rice dumplings commonly eaten in Japan, they are as follows.
Mitarashi Dango (みたらし団子)
Mitarashi Dango is one of the most commonly eaten Dango rice dumplings in Japan. It generally consists of three to five lightly grilled rice dumplings on a wooden stick, covered with a gooey sweet soy sauce glaze. Mitarashi Dango can be bought at many supermarkets and convenience stores around the country.
Sanshoku Dango (三色団子)
Sanshoku Dango, literally three colors of dumplings, is traditionally prepared for the Hanami cherry blossom viewing. In general, the pink dumpling is colored with the red coloring agent called “Shokubeni (食紅)”, while the tinge of the green dumpling comes from mugwort extract.
Goma Dango (ごま団子)
Goma Dango, literally sesame dumpling, is the rice dumpling glazed with a sweet sauce made from sugar and ground black sesame seeds.
Kinako Dango (きなこ団子)
“Kinako (きな粉)” is a traditional Japanese food made by grinding roasted soybeans, so Kinako Dango is the non-glutinous rice dumpling that is coated with a mixture of the Kinako flour and sugar.
Zunda Dango (ずんだ団子)
Made by mashing boiled Edamame green soybeans sweetened with sugar, the green bean paste “Zunda (ずんだ)” is a regional specialty of the Tohoku region of Japan. As shown in the photo above, Zunda Dando is the one covered with the sweet Zunda paste.
Shiratama Dango (白玉団子)
We call the white cereal dumpling made of glutinous rice flour called Shiratamako, “Shiratama Dango”. This rice dumpling is often used as a topping in desserts.
Kibi Dango (きびだんご)
Kibi Dango, literally millet dumpling, is a local specialty of Okayama Prefecture. Made by heating and kneading a mixture of glutinous rice flour, sugar, millet powder, and starch syrup, Kibi Dango is a white, very soft and chewy rice dumpling.
Yomogi Dango (よもぎ団子)
As the word “Yomogi (よもぎ)” means “mugwort” in Japanese, Yomogi Dango is made out of rice that’s been mixed with mugwort leaves. It is often served with sweet Anko red bean paste or a mix of sugar and Kinako flour.
Kurumi Dango (くるみ団子)
Kurumi Dango, literally walnut dumpling, is the rice dumpling covered with a sweet walnut sauce.
Anko Dango (あんこ団子)
“Anko (あんこ)” is a sweet Azuki red bean paste that is an indispensable part of Wagashi (traditional Japanese confections), so Anko Dango is the rice dumpling covered with the sweet red bean paste.