Sasa Dango: Niigata’s Specialty Rice Dumpling
The prefecture where I live, Niigata, is very famous as a production area of rice in Japan.
As the rice tastes good, several specialties made from it are well known nationwide, and representatives are Sake rice wine and Senbei crackers.
These things are popular in and outside of Japan and highly regarded. For example, the rice cracker Kaki no Tane, also known as Kameda Crisps, originated in Niigata.
In addition, my prefecture has one more specialty that you should remember, which is a confection very familiar to those born and raised here, called Sasa Dango (笹団子).
Sasa Dango (笹団子)
Sasa Dango is the Wagashi sweet my birthplace Niigata boasts. It has over 400 years of history, and in the old days, it was a portable food.
In its name, Dango (団子) refers to a traditional rice dumpling, while Sasa (笹) is the word for bamboo leaf, which has a bactericidal effect, keeping food long.
And Sasa Dango is a Yomogi Dango (よもぎ団子: Mugwort Dango) wrapped in bamboo leaves.
Yomogi Dango is a variety of Dango consisting of a mugwort-flavored rice dumpling filled with sweet Azuki red bean paste called Anko (餡子).
As you can see in the photo above, the rice dough kneaded with Yomogi mugwort features its deep green color.
It has a distinctive fragrance from Yomogi leaves and is quite chewy compared to other Dango dumplings.
Where to Buy
Sasa Dango is available at souvenir shops in train stations in Niigata and on the train.
If you have a plan to visit my prefecture, why not give it a try?
Remove the leaves, and once biting into the dumpling, you will be impressed by the deliciousness and herby fragrance.
(Reference Page: Wikipedia 笹団子 )