Japanese Dango: A guide to eating and making this most delicious Japanese street food

Japanese Dango: A guide to eating and making this most delicious Japanese street food

Dango is a sweet Japanese dumpling with various flavors, such as red bean paste, green tea, and soy sauce syrup. I will then take you through the history and types of this Japanese sweet treat and share a recipe for making your own.
Dango is a sweet Japanese dumpling that can be eaten all year round. The chewy texture and variety of flavors make Dango a special treat. It is a casual traditional Japanese sweet and goes well with green tea, especially matcha. Let’s take a closer look at this simple but very satisfying Japanese dessert below.
What is Dango? 
Dango is a traditional Japanese sweet and dumpling. It is said that the first ‘dango’ was originally made in a Kyoto tea-house called Kamo Mitarashi, which was located near Shimogamo Shrine.
The dessert’s name is thought to have been inspired by the bubbles that flow through the shrine’s Mitarashi.
Dango was originally made from five balls strung together, the upper part representing the head, the lower part the arms, and the last two parts the legs.
Dango is regarded as an offering to the Japanese gods.
One of the biggest events on the Kyoto calendar is the Mitarashi Festival held at Shimogamo Shrine. This festival is one of Japan’s most solemn and elegant festivals and has been popular since the 8th century. Dumplings are the main offering brought to the spirits at the festival. The Dango obtained as tribute usually comes in three colors: white, red, and green.


Types of Dango
Dango is a classic Japanese dessert with a wide variety and tastes best with green tea, a combination that makes this subtle dessert an ideal snack or breakfast.
These little balls are made from rice flour and eaten on skewers with bamboo sticks, making them a great snack.
Mitarashi Dango
This is the most popular dumpling and can be found in convenience stores and supermarkets. So covered with a sweet and salty syrup made from soy sauce, sugar, and starch. So delicious.


Red bean Dango (Anko Dango)
Anko Dango is a chewy ball coated with red bean paste and a popular traditional sweet enjoyed by children and adults alike.


Green tea flavored Dango (Chadango)
Chadango is a classic green-tea flavored dumpling, available all year round.


Three color Dango (Bocchan Dango) 
Bocchan Dango is a delightful treat that comes in three colors and flavors: red (red bean paste flavor), yellow (egg flavor), and green (green tea flavor).


Starch Dango (Denpun Dango)
These Dango come from Hokkaido and are made from potato flour and baked with sweet boiled beans, making them a special treat with a filling.
If you go to Hokkaido, starch dumplings are a great souvenir.


Cherry blossoms Dango (Hanami Dango)
Hanami Dango is only made during the cherry blossom viewing season, and this dumpling gets its name from Hanami – the cherry blossom viewing event (Hana means cherry blossom and mi means to enjoy).
This dessert is also available in three colors – pink, pale green, and white, similar to the color of the cherry blossom, and is widely enjoyed by friends, colleagues, and family.


Soya flour Dango (Kinako dango)
Soya flour dumplings with sweet and salty roasted bean flour, eaten with green tea for a great taste.
How to make Dango at home
If you want to make your own Dango, this is great news!
Making Dango at home is the easiest thing in the world!
Let’s have a quick look at the recipe.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Ingredients: tofu – 250g, glutinous rice flour – 200g
Quantity: 30 pieces
Detailed steps
1. Mix the tofu and glutinous rice flour in a bowl. The dough should not be too loose or too hard.


2. Use a teaspoon to scoop a spoonful and roll it into a ball.


3. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the dough until it floats.


4. Once the dough floats in the boiling water, cook for 2 – 3 minutes, then remove from the water and place on a plate covered with paper towels.


If you like red bean Dango, make a red bean paste (cooked with red beans and sugar) to put on top of the Dango.
To get okonomiyaki dumplings, brush them with soy sauce, sugar, and starch syrup.
Mount Takao grilled Dango


Grilled green tea Dango will be an even more memorable experience if you are summiting Mount Takao, located in western Tokyo. These Dango are flavored with soy sauce syrup and sesame seeds. This unique flavor, combined with the amazing views from the top of Mount Takao, can quickly invigorate a person after a tiring day.
I recommend you try this famous Dango at least once at Mount Takao. Every visitor dreams of tasting a unique and wonderful dessert in Japan.
Stinky tofu, the dominant snack in China

Stinky tofu, the dominant snack in China

Stinky tofu is a popular snack for many people, and its preparation and taste vary greatly across the country. Of these, Changsha and Nanjing are very famous for their stinky tofu. Stinky tofu from Taiwan, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing and Yulin also have their specialities. For lovers of stinky tofu, it doesn’t matter where it is, as long as it’s good!
As far as I can remember, stinky tofu in Changsha is black, fried in oil, with a small slit cut in the middle and filled with the sauce and chopped spring onion, coriander and garlic. One bite and the sauce fills your mouth, then you chew on the stinky tofu and eat it together. It’s a real treat!


Nanjing stinky tofu can be divided into two types: the tile grey stinky tofu and the grey and white tender tofu. There is also stinky tofu sold on bamboo skewers on carts, all of which are stinky, but each has a slightly different taste. Again, they are eaten with local flavour profiles.
The stinky tofu in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, is more yellow and looks just as crispy on the outside as it does on the inside, and the sauce doesn’t look very heavy, so I haven’t had it yet.
Taiwanese stinky tofu can be served with special kimchi with a crisp surface and many holes inside. Taiwanese stinky tofu is drizzled with different sauces, including garlic sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, chilli sauce, etc.


Shanghai’s stinky tofu looks thicker, and when fried, one bite is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside while still hot. Drizzled with a fresh, sweet sauce, one bite and the combination of the tofu aroma and the sauce will tantalise your taste buds!
Stinky tofu is made all over the country, and each place has different characteristics. Taking the elements of local tastes and adding the stink of stinky tofu, those who love it love to eat it to their heart’s content!


How to make it at home
Ingredients: 12 pieces of stinky tofu (bought at the supermarket), rapeseed oil: 1 rice bowl, coriander: 1 stick, shallots: 2 sticks, garlic: 1, pepper: 4, chicken seasoning: 1 spoon, salt: 15g, corn starch: 1 spoon
1. All low heat, pour in canola oil, and low heat to heat the oil; when you see the oil bubbles, you can slowly put the stinky tofu into the oil for frying;
2. Deep fry until both sides are crispy and crispy, drain the oil and remove from the pan.


3. Pour in the rapeseed oil over low heat. When the oil is about six minutes hot, stir fry the garlic and chopped chillies, then pour into the water and bring to a boil, adding the chicken seasoning, coriander, spring onion and salt in that order.
4. Tear the stinky tofu down the middle with chopsticks, dip it into the soup, then fish it out and arrange it on a plate.
5. Drizzle the soup over the top, and the finished product is ready.
Traditional Chinese snack-Sugar-coated haws

Traditional Chinese snack-Sugar-coated haws

Sugar-coated haws, also known as sugar gourd, is a traditional Chinese snack made from hawthorn skewered on bamboo sticks and dipped in maltose syrup, hardening rapidly in the wind.


The ancient practice of sugar-coated haws began in the Song Dynasty and has been recorded throughout history. It is a popular snack for all ages, with its delicious, nourishing, intellectual, fatigue-eliminating and heat-clearing effects. Whenever you mention sugar-coated haws, many people can recall their childhood, the sour and sweet taste of which is still fresh in their minds.
In the early years of Beijing’s Spring Festival temple fairs, it was not uncommon to see long strings of sugar gourds, with a small banner attached to the top and a hundred or so hawthorn berries on one line, bent by the red fruit and held in hand with a trembling bamboo stick, adding to the festive atmosphere. In the middle of winter, both in the city and in the countryside, there are always people selling hawthorn on carts or shoulders. The red hawthorn is particularly attractive under the sugar coating. Surrounded by small and large girls, they each buy one and take a bite, crunchy and sour with a sweet taste on their lips.
In people’s minds, sugar-coated haws is a snack for children, usually one yuan a piece. The taste is single, and occasionally, when you eat one, you can always come across a sticky one that is not technically sound, and you always feel that there is nothing to eat. But in recent years, the old Beijing-style sugar-coated haws have emerged with a wide variety of flavours, carefully selected raw materials, and clean and hygienic paper bag packaging to quickly win the love of the general public, a time when the queue of bidding for the phenomenon has not seen for many years. This kind of sugar-coated haws in the choice of raw materials hawthorn, pick hawthorn production area in the sour slightly sweet quality hawthorn as the main material. It is complemented by various fillings, dried fruits, fruits and other auxiliary ingredients to make a variety of flavours of sandwich sugar-coated haws. The glutinous rice paper-wrapped skewers and kraft paper bags are packaged cleanly and hygienically, improving the sugar-coated haws’ quality. This has helped to retain a large number of repeat customers. The consumer group has expanded from children to adults and the elderly, some of whom travel long distances to get their hands on a piece of sugar-coated haws.


Production method
Ingredients: sugar, hawthorn, bamboo sticks and cooking oil.
The process: first, put the sugar into a pot and add clean water to soak through the sugar. Then stir while heating, stop mixing when the sugar liquid in the bank is boiling, and continue to heat up over low heat. When the pot has a splintering sound, dip a chopstick into the cold water to cool the sugar mixture. At this point, you can put the pre-dressed hawthorn skewers into the sugar pan, roll them around to stick to the sugar liquid, take them out and place them on a wooden board smeared with edible vegetable oil and drop them with a force so that they have an obvious large sugar slice and are very beautiful. After cooling for five minutes, they can be removed. The hawthorn can be pitted or unpitted; you can make fancy iced gourds by cutting a knife into the hawthorn and sandwiching in peanuts, apples, or walnuts.
How to make sugar-coated haws at home:
1, Wash the hawthorn, cut in its waist with a knife in a circle to the seeds, break it open with your hands and pick it with the tip of the blade. The seeds will come out in a string with a bamboo skewer;
2, Put water and sugar in a pot, the ratio is 5:3 simmering on low heat, constantly stirring, wait until the sugar turns yellow, and you can pick out long strands with chopsticks, i.e. turn the skewers around to stick to the sugar;
3: Place the sugar-sweetened skewers immediately on a white iron plate sprinkled with sesame seeds, leave to cool and remove.
This method can make grapes, oranges, bananas, sliced monkeys, strawberries, papaya, dragonfruit, gaining, begonias, mushrooms, etc.
This method can make sugarplums with meat, sliced steamed buns, etc.


Emperor Guangzong of the Southern Song Dynasty was Zhao Dun, and his year was Shaoxi. During the reign of Shaoxi, Huang Guifei, the favourite of Emperor Guangzong, fell ill. Her face was yellow and thin, and she did not feel like eating. The imperial physicians used many expensive medicines, but they had no effect. When the Emperor saw that his beloved concubine was getting haggard, he was also worried all day. Finally, he had no choice but to open a list to seek medical help. For Huang Guifei’s pulse, a charlatan in the palace said: “as long as ice sugar and red fruit (i.e. hawthorn) decoction, eat five to ten before each meal, within half a month. The disease will be seen.” At first, we are still sceptical, but this way of eating is also suitable for the taste of your consort, your consort according to this method after taking, and indeed as expected healed. The Emperor was naturally delighted, and his frown was lifted. Later, this practice spread to the people, the common people strung it up and sold it, and it became sugar-coated haws.
Beijing’s sugar-coated haws were most prevalent during the Republican era. In the old capital, sugar gourds varied in thickness and grade and were sold differently in different regions. There were several types, in food shops, in the refreshment department of parks or in the cinema, that were often sold in glass-covered white porcelain plates, with exquisite production and wide varieties, including mountain red, white begonia, water chestnut, yam, orange and various kinds of sugar gourds with bean paste, melon seeds and sesame seeds added to the filling.


Studies have proven that sweetcorn is also popular for its lipid-lowering and serum cholesterol-lowering effects. There are also many different kinds of sweet and sour food. However, the sweet and sour taste of the sweet and sour gourd is still a popular food today. This product is rich in vitamin C, pectin, and organic phosphorus, modern technology to remove the core of the fruit, red colour, no colouring, no food additives, the taste is still good, is a naturally nutritious food. It has many medicinal properties. It can eliminate food stagnation, disperse blood, drive away worms, and stop dysentery, especially to help digestion, since ancient times as an important medicine to eliminate food stagnation, especially for the elimination of meat stagnation. Perhaps it was because of the illness caused by the accumulation of food and seafood eaten by Princess Huang Guifei that the small hawthorn relieved the pain. Li Shizhen, a distinguished medical scientist of the Ming Dynasty, also once said, “Cook old chicken hard meat, into the hawthorn a few that is easy to rot, then its elimination to the accumulation of merit, cover can be pushed forward.”
This practice later spread to the people, who then strung it up and sold it and became sugar-coated haws. Hawthorn has many medicinal properties. It can eliminate food stagnation, disperse bruises, drive away tapeworms, stop dysentery, and help digestion. It has been an important medicine for eliminating food stagnation since ancient times, especially for meat stagnation. Perhaps it was because of the illness caused by the accumulation of food and seafood eaten by Princess Huang Guifei, but a little hawthorn relieved the pain. Li Shizhen was a distinguished medical scientist of the Ming Dynasty. He stated that if you cook an old chicken with hard meat and add a few pieces of hawthorn, it will be easy to rot. Then its function of eliminating accumulation can be pushed forward.
Today’s research has proved that hawthorn also has the following effects: appetite, brain, skin, kidney, blood lipid and serum cholesterol reduction, thus making it even more popular. Hawthorn food is also very popular and has many different types of food. However, the sweet and sour sugar-coated haws are still a popular and delicious food today.
It is very Beijing food. It is the most original and traditional sweets, handmade and unique, and symbolises a time of leisure and pleasure. In a way, it may even represent a certain simplicity and tranquillity that is not without a sense of history.