Dango - Japanese Sweet - Curiosities and Recipe

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You know the Japanese sweet called Dango? You’ve probably heard of Dango in some Dorama that bears such a name or watching Anime Clannad. In this article we will talk about this Japanese sweet.

Dango [団子] is a Japanese dumpling made of mochiko (rice flour). It is served on a skewer with 3 or 4 dangos, and is usually eaten with green tea like a classic Japanese dessert.

Dango is available in many varieties, its texture is similar to mochi. The name Dango literally means a group of children, since it is a skewer with several balls forming a family.

Dango - doce japonês - curiosidades e receita

The history and Origin of Dango

The Japanese eat dango since the Jomon period, many prepared from forest nuts, which they crushed to flourish and mixed with porridge to survive winter.

The legend says that the Iemperor Godaigo (1288-1339) came to worship in the sanctuary and drew some water to purify his hands, until a large bubble appeared first and then another four bubbles.

He interpreted these bubbles as the human body, therefore, four cookies and a smaller one in the
top has become a special offering in this sanctuary for purification purposes.

Dango - doce japonês - curiosidades e receita

After offering them to the gods, people would take them home, shout a little over fire and add soy sauce for seasoning and eat them in the hope of good luck.

Since the period Muromachi, the cookies were placed on sticks, in the 16th century, five cookies
on a stick were the rule. One representing the head, two the arms and two the legs. 

They say that the first dango traditional known as mitarashi dango was originally made at a tea house in Kyoto called Kamo Mitarashi, located near the Shimogamo Shrine

Dango - doce japonês - curiosidades e receita

Mitarashi Festival

Mitarashi, the name of the river, ended up becoming the name of the sauce used in the dango traditional. A sticky golden sauce, with a mixture of sweet and salty flavor, made from soy sauce, sugar, water and starch. 

The name of the sweet was inspired by the similarity of the cookies to the bubbles made by the purifying water of the Mitarashi River. Water used to purify the person before accessing the sanctuary.

The Mitarashi Festival takes place in the summer at Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto. In this festival, people walk in a bubbling water that comes out of an underground stream in order to walk up to the Inoue Shrine to make their offering.

Dango - doce japonês - curiosidades e receita

During the festival of Mitarashi at Shimogamo Shrine, dango it is the main offering for the deities. These offerings usually come in 3 colors: white, red and green.

For 4 days thousands of Japanese people walk through the cold water with their Yukatadrinking the water for purification. Some claim that the black stones in the stream have a deterrent power for demons, especially tantrums in children.

Different types of Dango

There are many different types of dango which are usually named according to the ingredients present in them. We will list the main dango below and then a complete list of dango and its ingredients.

Mitarashi - The most popular type, commonly found in convenience stores and supermarkets. They are covered with a sweet and salty syrup made from soy sauce, sugar and starch.

Bocchan - It has three colors, red made of anko, yellow made with eggs and green made with green tea. Another that has 3 colors is the Hanami dango served in the spring during the blooming of sakura.

Denpun - Variety of Hokkaido made from sweet potato flour and cooked with beans. In addition to these flavors, there are dangos made entirely of anko (bean paste), green tea, soy derivatives, tenppanyaki, kinako, etc.

Dango - doce japonês - curiosidades e receita
  • Anko dango - Commonly made with red azuki bean paste;
  • Chadango - Green tea flavored dango;
  • Denpun Dango - From Hokkaido made from potatoes with azuki;
  • Chichi Dango - Slightly sweet, the father of dango;
  • Kibi Dango - Made of corn flour;
  • Kinako Dango - Made with roasted soy flour;
  • Kushi dango - Any Dango on a skewer;
  • Nikudango - Meatballs;
  • Teppanyaki Dango;
  • Sasa Dango - Wrapped in sasa leaves;
  • Sasa Dango Onna - Anko;
  • Sasa Dango Otoko - Kinpira;

Usually Dango it can refer to practically anything round on a skewer, a ball-shaped object; something round or lumps grouped together forming a family.

O dango it is a very fragile candy and should be consumed in one day. The dango that we find in markets and convenience stores has a lot of sugar to make them last longer, a taste different from the original.

Dango - doce japonês - curiosidades e receita

Hana Yori Dango - Japanese Proverb

Dango is so popular that there is a saying that says “hana yori dango”[花より男子] which can literally be translated as better dango than flowers. There is even a anime, mango and drama with that name.

This proverb is commonly understood as better sweets than flowers. He refers to the importance of the practical or the useful compared to aesthetics. This because dango it is very practical and easy to do.

More profoundly, the proverb says that we should value and value important things rather than appearance or futile things. Even the work we mentioned portrays these things well.

Dango - doce japonês - curiosidades e receita

Hana Yori Dango it is written as a criticism for people who place a lot of importance on money, status and appearance. In addition to being a good romantic comedy, it shows a great contrast of values such as wealth x poverty and superb x humility.

The work written by Yoko Kamio and released in 1992 depicts a girl named Makino from a poor family that despite the difficulties managed to enter an elite school for rich people.

The story shows her involvement with the 4 most popular students at the school named Flower Flor or F4, making direct reference to the saying flowers hana yori dango.

Dango - doce japonês - curiosidades e receita

There are references to sweet dango in other animes. We will list them below:

 Ai yori Aoshi Kamisama hajimemashita Kamigami no Asobi Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? Brave 10 

Dango Daikazoku in Clannad

The anime and mobile visual called Clannad has several references to the sweet dango. The protagonist Nagisa appears several times eating dango and with a set of plush in the shape of dango.

Including closure and theme anime is a song that talks about dango forming a family. You can see her song and lyrics below. It's a really cute song that makes fans scream: moe moe moe!

LetterTranslation
Dango 5x dango daikazoku
Dango 5x daikazoku
Yancha na yaki dango yasashii an dango
Sukoshi yumemigachi na tsukimi dango
Osumashi gum dango yotsu ko kushi dango
Minna minna awasete hyakunin kazoku
Akachan dango wa itsumo shiawase no naka de
Toshiyori dango wa me o hosometeru
Nakayoshi dango te o tsunagi ooki na marui wa ni naru yo
Machi o tsukuri dango boshi no eu minna de waraiau yo
Usagi mo sora de te o futte miteru dekkai otsuki-sama
Ureshii koto kanashii koto mo zenbu marumete
Nakayoshi dango te o tsunagi ooki na marui wa ni naru yo
Machi o tsukuri dango boshi no eu minna de waraiau yo
Usagi mo sora de te o futte miteru dekkai otsuki-sama
Ureshii koto kanashii koto mo zenbu marumete
Dango dango dango dango dango dango daikazoku
Dango 5x daikazoku
Dango 5x daikazoku
Dango 5th daikazoku
Dango… the big dango family
Dango… big dango family
An evil and disobedient dango, a sweet and gentle dango
The dango that sees the moon is a little dreamy
The perfect sesame dango, the four dango on the skewer
Everyone gets together and becomes a family of a hundred
A baby dango is always being lulled in happiness
An old dango looks with his narrow eyes
The dango friends will join hands and make a big circle
They will find a village on a dango planet and everyone will laugh together
Rabbits are waving from the big moon
Enjoy all things, happy and sad
The dango friends will join hands and make a big circle
They will find a village on a dango planet and everyone will laugh together
Rabbits are waving from the big moon
Enjoy all things, happy and sad
Dango dango dango dango big family dango dango
Dango dango dango big family dango dango
Dango… the big dango family
Dango… the big dango family

I also created an old flash game based on Clannad and Dango that you can play clicking here.

Dango Recipe - How To

If you want to cook your own dango, know that it is the easiest thing in the world! You only need:

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup of joshinko or common rice flour;
  • 2/3 cup of shiratamako or glutinous rice flour (mochiko) plus a spoonful of cornstarch;
  • 1/2 cup of warm water;

Preparing Dango:

  • 1. Mix ordinary rice flour with glutinous rice flour;
  • 2. Add the warm water gradually, always stirring the mixture. The dough should be soft, and it cannot crumble with excess water;
  • 3. Make small spheres the size of about 4 cm in diameter;
  • 4. Cook them in boiling water. With cooking they start to float, like gnocchi;
  • 5. Wait another 3 or 4 minutes and remove them with the help of a slotted spoon or sieve;
  • 6. Dip them in ice water to stop cooking;
  • 7. Stick 3 to 4 balls on a skewer;
Dango - doce japonês - curiosidades e receita

Mitarashi-dare - Dango Cover:

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of mirin
  • 4 tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1. Mix all the ingredients in a pan;
  • 2. Cook until it forms a thick syrup, remembering that it hardens more as it cools;
  • 3. Cover the cooked dango;

You can use other coverages like kinako, azuki beans or whatever you like;