I am a YouTube addict. Speaking of, the Project for Awesome (p4a), organized mainly by Vlogbrothers Hank and John Green (wow, I think I’m setting a record for embedded links), is on RIGHT NOW. Go. Watch, spam, and generally do everything I’m not doing because as soon as I get on YouTube I won’t be able to get off and I really need to get rid of all the crap on my desk because my window is getting ripped out in two days. (Which is why I’m blogging.)
Another YouTube channel I absolutely adore is Cooking with Dog. It’s hosted by Francis, a gender-norm-challenging little poodle with the cutest accent ever, and his Japanese chef. They teach you how to make awesome Japanese food (just click on that link for examples – you won’t regret it, unless you’re supposed to be doing something productive right now).
The first thing I ever made from their channel was tofu dango – basically glutinous rice balls made with tofu, served three different ways. Since I’m Chinese, I have some experience with making glutinous rice balls (we call them 圓子 yuan zi or 丸子 wan zi, both of which mean ‘little round things’), especially during winter holidays like Chinese New Year. The Japanese celebrate the new year on January 1st, though, so I’m posting this a couple of weeks in advance to give you time to source some glutinous rice flour!
The day I made these, my mom just happened to be making some sweet potato and ginger sweet soup, so I dunked my dango in.
I also dug out some sesame powder from our pantry, stirred it with some sugar, and dumped some boiled dango inside. It doesn’t look too appetizing in this picture, but seriously, mmm.
If you’re not too big on adding stuff to your desserts, these dango have a particular beany tofu taste to them that makes them super good on their own. Skewer them in groups so you can portion them out and prevent anyone from eating the lot in one go. It’s a real risk.
Tofu Dango (adapted from Cooking with Dog)
Soft silken tofu is best for this recipe, as it’s easier to mash up, but if you can only find firm tofu that should work okay too. There are many different types of glutinous rice flour – I tend to use some random Thai brand because that’s what we normally have lying around the house. I’m not too sure what the difference is, so just have a mass of glutinous rice flour equal to or greater than the mass of your box of tofu and make it the Chinese way – ditch the measuring cups and just kind of dump in enough flour to make a dough and adjust along the way – more flour if it’s too wet, some water if it’s too dry.
If you have any trouble with the recipe, watch the video, from which my recipe deviates only very slightly.
As I said above, I added sesame powder as a topping and added the dango to sweet potato sweet soup on top of eating the dango plain. Cooking with Dog had soybean flour and a sweet soy sauce as alternative toppings as well. The message you should take from this is add any toppings you want, within reason, which is why I haven’t included the toppings in the recipe.
Serves 3, more or less
- 1 box tofu
- Roughly equal mass of glutinous rice flour
- (see notes for all ingredients)
Put the tofu in a medium mixing bowl. Add a roughly equal amount of glutinous rice flour. Squish the whole thing up with your hands (wear gloves if your hand hygiene is dubious) until it’s all roughly incorporated. Add flour and water as necessary to create a dough that’s stiff but not crumbly.
Put a large pot of water on to boil.
While you’re waiting, shape the dough into a rough cylinder and split it into three sections. Split each of these sections into three again. Repeat. You should now have 27 pieces around the size of the volume of revolution of a nickel. Roll each between your hands to make them spherical. (You can flash freeze at this point if you’d like them to keep for a couple of months, though why you’d want to do that is beyond me.)
When the water comes to a rolling boil, place the dango in the pot a few at a time to prevent them from sticking together. They should float to the top when they’re done. Remove with a mesh ladle and immerse in cold water immediately.
(If you want to make your dango in a sweet soup, replace the water in this last step with sweet soup.)
Skewer on kebab sticks or add toppings (see above). I don’t know how long these keep in the fridge because I highly recommend stuffing them all in your mouth immediately and indulging in the chewy goodness.