Soft and chewy Japanese Tofu Mitarashi Dango dumplings served on a skewer and drizzled with an addicting sweet and salty soy sauce glaze. They are so easy to make and suitable for vegans too!
When I traveled to Japan years ago, I had the chance to try the mitarashi dango in Kyoto. The dango was warm with a very soft and chewy texture, and the sauce had the perfect balance of sweetness and savoriness. I fell in love instantly and could not forget the taste ever since.
I have tried multiple dango recipes and I have to say that this recipe is the closest to the one I had in Kyoto. This mitarashi dango recipe uses a secret ingredient to recreate that super soft and chewy dango texture I love. You don’t have to go to Japan to taste mitarashi dango because I will teach you how to make this tasty snack at your home.
What is Mitarashi Dango?
Mitarashi dango is one of the most popular types of dango in Japan. It is a traditional Japanese treat, made with rice dumplings stacked on a skewer, grilled, and drizzled with a sweet soy sauce glaze.
The rice dumplings are soft and chewy with hints of char grill. The dumplings by themself taste plain. Instead, the unique flavor comes from being smothered in a thick and sticky soy sauce and sugar glaze, making mitarashi dango taste both sweet and savory at the same time.
Mitarashi dango is enjoyed year-round. You can find these outside shrines being sold by street vendors, in tea houses, confectionary shops, or even in convenience stores! You’ll especially see the snack appear on Japan’s street stalls in the spring months, as it’s particularly popular at this time of year.
What is The Difference Between Dango and Mochi?
Dango and mochi are very similar, but there are a few differences. Dango is typically made from a mix of rice and sweet rice flour, mixed with water, rolled into balls, and boiled to form rice dumplings. On the other hand, mochi is made from steamed glutinous rice and pounded into a sticky ball.
Both have a similar flavor and bouncy texture but are served very differently. Dango is smaller, firmer, and often served as 3-5 tiny round balls which are skewered on a stick. Dango is usually smothered in sauce rather than filled. Meanwhile, mochi is larger, softer, and sometimes filled with different kinds of fillings.
Secret Ingredient For Soft and Chewy Dango
So, what is the secret ingredient to make a soft and chewy dango? It is tofu! Adding silken tofu to the flour instead of mixing it with water makes the dango much softer and chewier. It also adds more protein to this little treat!
Dango is traditionally made with rice flour mixed with glutinous rice flour. However, I found that the mix did not produce the texture I wanted. To achieve the soft and chewy dango with the right amount of firmness, you will need these 2 ingredients:
- Shiratamako. Shiratamako is a type of glutinous rice flour (also called sweet rice flour) made from mochigome, glutinous short-grain Japanese rice. You can find this in Asian or Japanese groceries. The granules are much larger than regular glutinous rice flour. If you can’t find this you can also use regular glutinous rice flour or mochiko, but the texture will be slightly different. Regular glutinous rice flour and mochiko are less elastic and harden faster than shiratamako.
- Silken tofu. Tofu acts as the water in the dough and the key to achieve a more tender, soft, and chewy texture.
Mitarashi Glaze Ingredients
- Soy sauce. It gives the glaze that salty umami flavor. You can use tamari or gluten-free soy sauce for gluten-free options.
- Granulated sugar. To sweeten the glaze. You can add more or less sugar depending on your preference.
- Mirin. It is a type of rice wine made from whole-grain glutinous rice and a common ingredient in Japanese cooking. It has a sweet and tangy flavor and brings in umami due to its fermentation process. If you don’t have it available, you can omit it.
- Water. To thin out the glaze.
- Starch. To thicken the glaze.
How to Grill Dango
Here are some tools you can use to grill dango and get the char grill taste in every bite:
- Frying pan. Use a non-stick frying pan and pan-fry the dango over low-medium heat. You do not need any oil for this. Flip occasionally until each side is lightly charred.
- Charcoal grill. The best way to infuse the dango with some smoky flavor and aroma. If you are grilling on a grill rack, grease the rack with a little neutral oil to prevent dango from sticking.
- Kitchen torch. To give the dango a quick char.
How to Serve
Mitarashi dango can be served both hot and cold. Personally, I think it is best eaten straight away as it will be warm and slightly crispy. The dango will become firmer and chewier as it cools.
More Japanese Recipes
- Mille-Feuille Nabe (Japanese Hotpot)
- Yoshinoya Beef Bowl (Gyudon)
- Gyutandon (Beef Tongue Rice Bowl)
- Red Bean Matcha Mochi with Kinako
- Cherry Blossom Shortbread Cookies