We are in the middle of the full Cherry Blossom season in London. There is a traditional custom called ‘Hanami’ (‘Hana’ means flower/ blossom and ‘Mi ((Miru))’ means to look/ watch) that people picnic under a cherry tree and enjoy eating & drinking whilst viewing the beauty of Sakura.
We also have a proverb ‘Hana yori Dango’ which means ‘Food comes before Flower (Beauty)’. This describes that although viewing Sakura blossom is enjoyable, it cannot beat the delight of eating delicious food.
There is a sweet during this Sakura season called ‘Hanami-Dango’. It is composed of three balls of a ‘Mochi‘ type sweet in tricolour of Green, White and Pink stuck together with a skewer. But why these colours and why in this order? There seems several theories behind this colour scheme but the one I like is like this. ‘White’ is a symbol of ‘Snow=Winter’, ‘Green’ is the ‘New Leaves’ just about coming out from under the snow and ‘Pink’ is the colour of ‘Sakura=Spring’. So all these colours together explain the season which people have longed for the arrival during the long cold winter.
I made Hanami-Dango with Tofu this year. Why Tofu? You can use water instead but by adding Tofu the Mochi Dango becomes softer and bouncier texture and the softness lasts longer. You can make this in almost the same way as the ‘Shiratama Dango’ I introduced before.
- Glutinous Rice Flour (Shiratama-ko) 100g
- Soft Tofu 100g
- Granule Sugar 3-4 Tbsp
- Pink and green colour (Beetroot juice/‘Matcha’ Green Tea Powder can be used)
- Some Skewers
Add in all the ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly particularly if you use granular type of Rice Flour. Make the dough into the soft but slightly firm texture like an earlobe by adjusting the firmness with water.
Boil plenty of water in a cooking pan.
Divide the dough into three. Add pink colour for one of them and green to another. Make the dough into small balls of about 3cm in diameter. When the water boils turn to medium heat. Reroll each ball by hand to make a round shape before dropping it into boiling water.
When the balls start to float on the surface of the water contunue cooking it for one more minute and then put it into a bowl of cold water. When it’s cooled place Mochi balls into a skewer in the order of Green, White and Pink
For Green one I used ‘Yomogi’ leaf (Artemisia princeps, Mugwort) powder which we widely use for making sweet in Japan. You can use ‘Matcha’ Green Tea for green or Beetroot juice for pink if you prefer using natural colour.
Because of the Tofu the colour of Mochi Dango became slightly yellow magnolia. It gives a soft natural colour. 🙂