When it comes to Japan, don’t you first think of the beautiful cherry blossoms full of anime? But, sometimes, you must admire the Japanese’s aesthetics and creativity. Today we introduce you to a culinary creation that combines taste and visual enjoyment – Japan’s top 10 most popular desserts.
One of Japan’s most famous Western-style desserts, originating in Portugal and later introduced to Japan. Kasutera is rectangular, with a caramel-coloured crust on the top and bottom that looks particularly attractive and a fine, even bubble in the middle section, with a honeyed taste in the mouth. The cake is so dense that you can’t stop eating it.
2. Raindrop Pancake
When I first heard the name, I thought it sounded too good to be accurate, but when I saw the real thing, I sighed again: it was too good to be true! Although it’s called a “cake”, it’s more of a jelly. The dessert has a crystal clear appearance, just like a drop of water, so it is a “high value” dessert. The garnish is not limited to salted cherry blossoms, but there are often a variety of flavours to choose from, and they all taste good too.
3. Mitarashi Dango
Anyone who has watched Japanese anime will have seen a string of pink, white and green dumplings, and they are called Mitarashi Dango. They are sold in convenience stores in Japan, which is a testament to how much they love them. They are made of glutinous rice and have a texture like Chinese dumplings but without the filling. Instead, they are usually served with a drizzle of sugar syrup or dipped in soy flour, or you can choose to eat them plain to get a better taste of their flavour.
Made from the same glutinous rice as the Mitarashi Dango, the main difference is that the Daifuku has a filling. The most common and most popular is the strawberry Daifuku. The strawberries are covered in chocolate sauce and wrapped in a glutinous rice crust, and a strawberry Daifuku is ready. One bite has the softness of glutinous rice and the moistness of strawberries, while the fruitiness and sweet and sour taste of strawberries neutralise the sweetness, making it lovely but not too sweet. Depending on the filling, there are also red bean Daifuku and mango Daifuku.
Just look at their desserts, and you will see how much the Japanese love the soft texture of sticky rice. Eighty per cent of all Japanese desserts are made with glutinous rice, and wagashi is an exquisite and delicate dessert made from glutinous rice. In layman’s terms, it is a filling made from small beans or other foods added to the rice cake.
Many of you are familiar with “Dorayaki” – Doraemon’s favourite food! Also known as golden cakes, they are usually filled with red bean paste, similar to Chinese bean paste cakes, but since some people don’t like red bean paste, they are now available in new flavours such as green bean, strawberry and blueberry.
Taiyaki is also one of the most famous Japanese desserts in anime. It is similar to Dorayaki, except that it is grilled and has a more ‘interesting’ appearance than snapper. The freshly Taiyaki tastes crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and gives off the fragrance of red beans.
8. Warabi Mochi
Warabi Mochi is a Japanese confection made from starch, water and sugar. It has a cold and chewy texture and is not too sweet, making it a great summer dessert. Eaten in the same way as okonomiyaki, they can be served with soybean flour or drizzled with black sugar syrup, or both if you like it sweeter. Matcha lovers can also use matcha powder instead of soybean powder.
Originating in China, Yokan was introduced to Japan and developed into a traditional local snack. The original Yokan was a soup made from lamb and frozen to accompany a meal, but since Japanese monks did not eat meat, they made a Japanese-style yoghurt with red beans, kudzu flour and flour, which is what it is today.
Also known as “Japanese pancakes”, they are a type of Japanese rice cracker that comes in various sweet and savoury flavours. They come in multiple shapes and sizes and are often served with green tea as a casual snack and are the most common choice for Japanese families to entertain their guests. They have a crunchy texture and are wrapped in a piece of seaweed for a golden hue that makes your mouth water.
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.
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
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.