Hanami Dango are sweet treats that are usually made during Sakura season, which falls rom the end of March to early May, when the Sakura bloom all over Japan. Hanami means ‘flower viewing’; hana meaning ‘flower’, and mi meaning ‘to see’. ‘Flower’ in this case almost always refers to the beautiful pink cherry blossoms, or Sakura. Hanami Dango sweets are usually pink, white and green so they are reminiscent of spring. Not to mention, they are absolutely delicious, and fun to make!
Makes 8 Hanami dango sticks | Preparation time 20 mins | Cooking time 2-3 mins per dango plus cooling
- 300g sweet rice flour
- 160ml water
- Pinch of matcha green tea powder
- 4-5 large strawberries
- Divide the rice flour equally between three bowls with 100g flour in each bowl. Add 80ml of water to one bowl and bring together using your hands until a firm dough is formed, adding a few drops of extra water if necessary until the dough reaches a BluTack like consistency. Set aside.
- Add a pinch of matcha powder to another bowl of sweet rice flour and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Add the remaining 80ml of water to the flour and work together with your hands as before to form a firm dough. The dough may be pale in colour at this stage but it will deepen during cooking. Set aside.
- Blitz the strawberries using a hand blender then press through a sieve into a measuring jug to remove any seeds or. The strawberries should make approx 70-80mls of juice so top up with water if necessary. Pour the strawberry juice into the final bowl of sweet rice flour and bring together with your hands as before to make a firm dough. Set aside.
- 4 Fill a large pan with hot water and bring to the boil. Set aside a large separate bowl of cold water. While the hot water is reaching temperature, take the first dough and roll into small balls according to your taste – if you have previously enjoyed traditional Japanese sweets go for large 50p coin sized balls, if this is your first time try smaller 20p coin sized balls to introduce you to the new texture.
- When the pan of water is boiling drop the dango balls into the water. After a few minutes the balls will float to the surface, leave them to float for a few extra seconds then remove using a slotted spoon and place into the bowl of cold water to cool. The larger the balls, the longer they will take to cook before they float to the surface.
- Cook the remaining doughs as before and once the dango have cooled, drain the water from the bowl. Moisten a skewer and ease three dango balls onto it starting with the green, then white and finally the pink one on the top. If the dango balls become misshapen while handling them just reshape using wet fingers. Repeat this for the rest of the balls and serve either alone or with a sprinkling of sugar to taste. If you are not going to eat them immediately keep covered, preferably in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. Do not refrigerate.
- If you’d like to make something super kawaii (cute!) why not make tiny 5p coin sized balls and serve them on cocktail sticks instead of skewers!
- Sweet rice flour is widely available online or in Asian supermarkets.