A potluck is a group gathering over a shared meal; each attendee contributes their own food dish to the mix. Contributions range from appetizers to main courses to desserts. Traditionally, the dishes brought are homemade. To prepare you for your first potluck, we are equipping you with a tasty Japanese recipe that will be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Or, if you are already a potluck regular, perhaps give this new recipe a try to switch things up next time!
Dango is a Japanese rice flour dumpling eaten year-round. It is spherically shaped and typically served on a skewer of 3 to 5 dumplings. Skewered dumplings are called kushi-dango. There is a wide range of dango that vary based on the toppings and dippings. Usually, the dango’s name comes from the seasoning served on or with it. Some popular options include anko dango, covered with red bean paste, cha dango, flavored with green tea, and goma dango, topped with sesame paste.
Below, learn how to make yet another exciting version, hanami dango. This variation consists of a trio of pink, white, and green dango. This dango is named after hanami, the Japanese custom of appreciating flowers’ beauty, specifically, cherry blossoms. The three colors of this dango have meaning too. The white dumpling represents the passage of winter and any lingering snow it left behind. The green dumpling represents the arrival of spring, the season during which the trees bloom. The pink dumpling represents the cherry blossoms.
Hanami dango Dumplings
- 1 cup Joshinko (non-glutinous long-grain rice flour, also called rice powder)
- 1 cup Shiratamako (glutinous short-grain rice flour)
- 9½ tbsp sugar
- 1 cup hot water
- 1½ tsp matcha green tea powder
- Red food coloring
- Put the matcha powder in a bowl and pour in 2 tbsp of the hot water. Use a fork to mix well.
- Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes and then drain out the liquid, using a mesh strainer. The matcha mixture should now have a paste-like consistency. Discard the drained water.
- Combine the joshinko and shiratamako rice flours and the sugar in a large bowl and evenly stir.
- Add the remaining hot water in slow increments (never all at once!). Make sure to continuously mix as you add in the water. The dough should reach a soft yet firm texture. Traditionally, the perfect dango dough texture is compared to the feel of an earlobe! If your dough is too soft, add more joshinko flour.
- Divide the dough into thirds. Add red food coloring into one third, the matcha mix into another third, and the last should be kept plain.
- Knead the colored doughs until the color is evenly spread throughout.
- Separate the dough into 8 evenly sized chunks for each color. Then, roll the chunks into a ball shape with your hands, leaving you with 24 balls in total.
- Fill a large pot with water and heat it to a boil. Now, it is time to cook the dango!
- Place the dango into the water and cook until they float (approximately 8 minutes) and then for an additional 1 minute after. Remove the dango from the pot using a slotted spoon, place them in a bowl of ice water for 1 minute to cool, and then onto a dish until they are ready to be skewered. *Note: Order is important here! Start with the white dango, then cook the pink dango, and lastly cook the green dango. This order is to prevent staining the white dango, as the red and green colorings tint the boiling water.
- Stick one dango of each color into a skewer in a red, green, white order. Serve the finished dango trio at room temperature. Enjoy!
This hanami dango recipe is a simple but delicious treat that everyone will love. It brings together classic Japanese flavors, traditional culture, and a fun cooking experience with new ingredients. Bring this dish to your first (or next!) potluck, and you will surely be invited back. Drop us a comment or hit us up on Instagram to let us know how it went!