My baba-chan in Tokyo always has a package of Mitarashi Dango on her dining table by her Zojirushi. I look back fondly on those afternoons when I'd sit around and eat dango with her while Richard Clayderman streamed out of her tape player.
Mitarashi Dango are rice dumplings draped in a sweet and savory shoyu glaze. I love the chewiness of the dumplings coupled with the sticky sauce that is so visually tempting. I like my dango slightly grilled for a crunch on the outside.
For this recipe, I also added my own touch by dusting the skewers with kinako (roasted soybean flour) for a nutty, earthy flavor. If you want to make this dessert gluten free, just switch out the shoyu in the glaze for tamari.
Make sure to read my not-so-subtle tips (in all caps) so that the balls don't turn out lumpy (I had to give it a few tries myself before succeeding). Thanks to my mom for helping me fine tune this recipe.
5 skewers consisting of 4 balls each
1 tbsp shoyu
5 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp mirin
4 tbsp water
2 tbsp potato starch combined at room temperature with 2 tbsp water
1. Cut a plastic vegetable bag from the grocery store into a flat sheet.
2. Pour the vegetable oil over the plastic and spread evenly on one side.
3. In a microwavable bowl, add the joshinko rice flour. This is flour is finer than mochiko so make sure to get joshinko!
4. Slowly add the water.
DO THIS LITTLE BY LITTLE until the dough looks stretchy like gum. It might be a little bit more or less than 1 cup of water.
5. Cover the microwavable bowl with saran wrap. Microwave 30 seconds at a time for a total of 2 minutes. If your microwave allows, adjust the power level to low or medium. The key here is to heat it LITTLE BY LITTLE.
6. Take the bowl out and mix with chopsticks. It will be a bit hard to mix, but mix it around.
7. Cover and microwave again for 30 seconds on medium.
8. Take the dough out and place onto the vegetable bag that now lies flat.
9. Knead the dough with your hands using the plastic as a barrier.
10. The dough should be stretchy with the firmness of an ear lobe. It should look smoother than when you took it out of the bowl.
11. Take a small amount (less than a tablespoon) and roll the balls between your hands.
13. Spear four balls to a bamboo skewer.
14. Heat up a little bit of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan.
15. Lightly pan fry the skewers on each side until until they slightly brown. Set on a plate to cool.
16. As they brown, make the tare. Combine the soy sauce, sugar, mirin and four tbsp of water in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling bowl, making sure the sugar dissolves completely. Adjust the temperature to the lowest setting.
17. Add the potato starch mixture into the saucepan and heat gently until the sauce begins to thicken. Turn off the heat when the sauce looks like a shiny glaze.
18. Drizzle the glaze on the browned skewers.
19. Dust the skewers with kinako.
Since I can't go to the corner store and get Mitarashi Dango like my Baba-chan can, my only option to enjoy this treat is to make it myself. This took me a few tries to master, but it's simple once you get the hang of it. The key here is to add ingredients and heat LITTLE BY LITTLE. Good luck!