Dango is one of the traditional Japanese sweet and savory desserts. They consist of a skewer of three to five dumplings of glutinous rice flour called mochi, plain or flavored, sometimes topped with a filling or topped with sauce
In this article we present you 12 types of Japanese dango that you must try during a trip to Japan.
Dango, a very popular snack in Japan
The dango 団子 is really a must-have snack for Japanese people, the most popular ones are notably with the taste of anko (sweet red bean paste), matcha or even kinako (roasted soybean powder).
You will find them very often in the streets as in stalls called yatai or in matsuri or in traditional bakeries or cafes. In the latter, dango are often eaten with matcha or kinako (roasted soy powder) green tea !
If you have a small hunger, dango can be just right for you because they are eaten in 2 bites and you can find them both salty and sweet. The other advantage is that these snacks are cheap, from 100 yen to 350 yen on average.
Varieties and tastes of dango
Personally, we find that the small plain mochi balls have a rather neutral taste but which is sublimated by the filling or the generous sauce which coats them. As for the texture, it is particularly elastic and soft. Our favorites are the mitarashi dango, theanko and matcha versions and especially the sesame ones! They are simply delicious.
Here are the many varieties of dango :
The Mitarashi dango are the most popular dango, they are grilled and covered with an icy sauce made of shoyu (soy sauce), sugar and mirin depending on the recipe. Its taste is sweet and salty! They are delicious and relatively easy to find.
Botchan dango or hanami dango
The botchan dango or hanami dango appear very often during the period “hanami“the cherry blossom festival in Japan. They consist of 3 different colored mochi: a green one scented with tea, a white one scented with vanilla and a pink one scented with salted cherry blossoms. However, the taste of the mochi can vary from one shop to another (just food coloring, strawberry, raspberry…). We tasted some really bad ones in the middle of Asakusa and others in traditional shops without any comparison.
There are several theories about the meaning of the three colors. The three colors would represent the seasons and nature. Pink would be the color of spring, flowers and sun. Green would be associated with summer, with plants, trees and green grass. White would represent winter with its coat of snow.
An dango or Anko Dango
An Dango is also one of the most popular variety in Japan. The skewers are generously covered with sweetened azuki bean paste called anko. This dango is also one of our favorites!
The matcha dango is flavored with matcha green tea. Sometimes the matcha is just sprinkled on the skewer. A delight!
The kinako dango as its name suggests is sprinkled with kinako, roasted soybean powder. It’s a little sweet version but it’s very good! Indeed, the taste is close to hazelnut and roasted peanut.
If you are looking for a salty and tasty dango, you should try theIsobe Dango, a dango glazed with soy sauce and wrapped in seaweed.
You can find dango with black sesame or white sesame flavor. Sometimes, even completely covered with black sesame paste, they are then called“kurogoma dango” or“goma dango“. As sesame lovers, it is clearly one of our favorites just like the black sesame ice cream !
The dumplings are grilled and dipped in a sauce made of miso ! It is a delicious salty version! For more greediness, don’t hesitate to add some butter in the sauce. Indeed, miso and butter go together perfectly!
When autumn arrives in Japan, chestnuts take place in the kitchen and dango are no exception. Here is Kuri dango, a skewer covered with a sweet chestnut paste. You can find them as a local souvenir in Kumamoto prefecture, which is home to the town of Yamaga, a town known as the leading producer of chestnuts in western Japan.
For the sweet tooth among you, you can find dango with a chocolate or chocolate-covered coating.
If you want a more traditional Japanese dango, you should try Yomogi Dango. It gets its green color from Japanese mugwort, a type of plant often used in Asian medicine. It has a light herbal taste and goes very well with hot tea.
This light green dango comes from the south of Tohoku. It gets its color from the slightly sweetened edamame slightly sweetened. It is a dango that you must try if you have the opportunity!
Please note that this list is not exhaustive, there are indeed other varieties and many mixed like matcha + anko + sesame … The dango are made with“Shiramoko” flour, a Japanese glutinous rice flour, and depending on the recipe, with silky tofu or Japanese rice flour“Joshinko“. The dumplings are simply cooked in water. It is therefore a healthy snack!
You can also find our japanese dango recipe. Quick and easy to make