Everyone looks out to the 4 seasons of Japan which all hold a unique adventure, but nestled deep into Spring, we can find a special season that is most sought after! Can you guess?
Yes you got it! It is the Cherry Blossom season that brings the beautiful pink Sakura flowers in its full glory, sweeping away the memories of the chilly winter and welcoming you to enjoy nature once again. Looking at our Cherry blossom forecast it starts at the southernmost Okinawa prefecture, where the blossoms come into view as early as February. As it moves northwards, it finishes in the Hokkaido region in the month of May.
The Cherry Blossom season also brings forth a time of celebration called ‘Hanami’; translating to mean “flower viewing”.
A quick guide on how to Hanami?
Wait! What do I do for Hanami then? I’m glad you asked (big smiles)!
Hanami is a Spring party activity where people go to view the flowers, but it is also a traditional custom in which a picnic is held under the cherry blossoms. The blooming time is quite short of approximately 2 weeks, it represents a time of renewal and the fleeting nature of life – life is as short as the cherry blossoms and should be fully enjoyed!
As you venture under the blossoms, be sure to enjoy the foods associated with this activity. One we must definitely have is Hanami Dango, and you may be quite familiar with it especially if you have seen this emoji 🍡.
How to make Hanami Dango?
So with all that being said, let’s get to the main event of this blog, which I don’t think you can even guess (giggles to myself silently).
Welcome to cooking class 101 where we will make Hanami Dango, which translates to “flower viewing dumplings”.
Ok I’m definitely not a professional but by following the recipe from Miss Wagashi, I was able to produce amazing results!
Before we begin, did you know the three colours each contain a special meaning relating to spring?
Pink→ represents the beautiful sakura flowers
White→ represents the white sake to celebrate with
Green→ represents the young shoots of leaves
Now let’s begin!
Let’s gather the following ingredients:
1- Bamboo Skewers
2- 20g white sugar
3- 20g Glutinous rice flour
4- 20cc Hot water
5- 20cc Room temperature water
6- 20g Rice flour
7- Red food colouring
8- Matcha powder
[Note: 20cc of water was converted to 20ml/0.13C, however I had neither materials to measure this (lol), so straight to Google we go! After some research, I narrowed it down to a 1 Tablespoon+ 1 Teaspoon of water] (Hope this helps)]
In one mixing bowl, place 20g of glutinous rice flour with the room temperature water and mix well. As seen in the photo on the left, this mixture looks more crumbly in texture.
Now, using another bowl, add 20g of rice flour, 20g of white sugar and your hot water and mix again. There’s quite a difference in textures as this mixture looks more fluid, as seen in the photo on the right.
Time to bring out some mixing magic and let’s combine these two doughs together to unite and become as one (sounds like I casted a spell…lol)
Once that’s done, weigh it out and divide the dough into 3 equal portions. (Anyone else dislikes when they get an odd number and now have to do some super Maths to figure out the equality?) – lols!
Now at this stage, if you are quite hungry and cannot wait, then go right ahead and cook these to spoil yourself.
Just kidding! I beg of you please hold on just a bit further (haha).
We need to add some enchanting colours that will make this a total aesthetic pleaser! One dough ball remains untouched at this point because it will be used for the white portion. To another dough ball, add a bit of red food colouring and gently mix it into the dough until you get that beautiful pink colour.
To the last dough ball, add some hot water to some matcha powder to make your green colour. By adding some to the dough and mixing well, it brings out a vibrant green colour for your dumplings, but also adds a bit of green tea flavour!
Now that our colours are complete, roll each ball into a log shape onto a board, and then using a knife, cut them into 3 EQUAL portions.
I highly stress the word “equal” here because as you can see, my eyes clearly did not do the greatest job at it (laughs at myself when I got to this point-lol!).
Now let’s roll every portion into a ball shape to be ready for cooking!
In a pot of boiling water, drop all the dango balls to be executed….I mean cooked. (teehee)
As these dumplings slowly begin to acquire life into their souls, they will float to the top and therefore, to keep them alive we must remove them and transfer immediately to iced water before it’s too late! (Am I being too dramatic?)
Now comes the super fun part we have all been waiting for! You thought it was eating right? Sorry, but we got to wait just a tad bit more!
Traditionally, these are made with a specific colour order so let’s make sure to assemble them correctly! Remember, the green goes first, followed by white and then finally topped with pink.
Voila! Fit for a Hanami picnic! Enjoy your own homemade hanami dango when you go flower viewing, or you can just enjoy it at home like I did.
Now if the cherry blossoms have finished blooming where you are currently, I still challenge you to one day try making these. Quite simple and such a delicious treat awaits you!
I for one am super proud of completing this task. From seeing these dango in anime to now making them myself, I can say one of my life goals has been completed!
Afterthought: did you see my paper cherry blossom flowers? Quite cute. I learnt to make them here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coLRPEYJnIE
All recipe photo credit: Sarah on Instagram
Featured photo from Christina Oshima @peachpiesweet
Interested in learning about more local dishes? Join our Top 5 Japanese Foods online experience with a local expert!
PIN THIS FOR LATER