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Make delicious homemade Tsukimi Dango with gluten-free rice flour and pumpkin to celebrate the Japanese mid-autumn festival with an easy and sweet treat.
In Japan, the Mid-Autumn festival is called Tsukimi or Otsukimi, which means “moon viewing” in Japanese. The festival is held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Japanese lunar calendar. And during this time, people celebrate by decorating their homes and of course, eating treats. In particular, glutinous rice balls called Tsukimi dango are a must-have during the Mid-Autumn festival.
What are Tsukimi Dango?
While there are many different kinds of dango, or glutinous rice balls, this version has a special ingredient just for the Mid-Autumn festival. During this time, sweet potatoes and winter squash are in season and are often given as offerings to the Moon. So these sweet sticky rice balls are flavored with sweet potato or kabocha pumpkin as a nod to this tradition and the seasonal produce.
How to Make Tsukimi Dango
Making dango at home is a fun way that I love to get into the festival spirit. You only need four ingredients (including one optional ingredient).
Here’s what you need to make your dango for the holiday:
Glutinous rice flour. Make sure to use the sweet kind, which is labeled shiratamako or joshinko.
Water. Use warm water to hydrate the rice starch.
Kabocha pumpkin. You can also use orange sweet potato.
Sugar. This is optional, depending on how sweet you like your dango. The rice flour is already sweet.
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few tips for making your dango:
Start by steaming the sweet potato or pumpkin. You want it to be completely tender and fully pureed so it will work into the rice flour well.
Add as much flour or water as you need to make a slightly sticky, but smooth dough. It should hold together well but not stick to your hands too much as you work.
You can flavor as many of the rice balls with pumpkin as you like. The plain ones will also be tasty!
How to Serve Dango
The traditional way to serve Tsukimi dango is in a pyramid shape. Arrange nine rice balls on a plat, then top with a layer of four, and place two pumpkin/sweet potato balls on top.
More Recipes to Make for the Mid-Autumn Festival
There are plenty of other traditional dishes served during this festival in Japan. Add these recipes to your menu:
2/3 cups sweet glutinous rice flour (use shiratamako or joshinko for best results), more as needed
1/2 cup warm water, more as needed
1 small slice of kabocha pumpkin, or orange sweet potato
2 tsp organic cane sugar (optional)
Start by steaming your kabocha or orange sweet potato. Cook until tender, then push through a sieve to achieve a smooth purée. Let sit aside and cool.
Next make your dango. Gradually add water as you mix your flour in a large bowl with chopsticks. Once all of the water is added to the bowl and the dough thickens, you should be able to start to use your hands. Add more flour or water as needed (brands tend to vary, and the amount you may need also depends on the humidity!). The dough is ready when it’s firm, smooth and easily workable.
Divide the dough into 15 equal pieces and roll into tight balls.
Set aside 2 of the balls of dough and knead in your pumpkin purée (about 1 tbsp) to add colour. You may need to add additional flour depending on how moist your pumpkin is.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, then gently add all of your dango to the pot. Stir with chopsticks occasionally to avoid sticking. The dango is ready when they start to float to the top.
Prepare an ice bath and drop your cooked dango gently in to cool and firm up. Strain, and transfer onto a plate or tray.
To assemble, arrange dango in layers of 9, 4 and top with 2 orange dango!
Hi there, I’m Remy! Welcome to Veggiekins Blog, home to nourishing vegan + gluten-free recipes and tips to live your best balanced and holistic life. I’m a human on a mission to empower you to be well and be kind to your mind, body and soul with the healing power of plants.
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