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Recipe Wed Jun 27 2007

Shiratama Dango: Japanese Summer Dessert Dumplings

Sweet Rice FlourTo survive the unbearably hot and humid Japanese summers, the Japanese have created a nice array of cold sweets. Today, I made one of them: shiratama dango. Tender dumplings made of sweet rice flour, shiratama dango roughly translates to "white pearl dumplings." It’s extremely easy to make, and pretty versatile in terms of what to accompany it with. Shiratama dango has a resilient yet smooth texture like mochi (surprise!). You can buy the sweet rice flour (called “shiratamako”) in Japanese grocery stores like Mitsuwa, or you can use the “mochiko” that Lori used for her mochi cake. Photographed here is a package of shiratamako that I purchased at Mitsuwa, in Arlington Heights.

Most shiratamako packages indicate that you should add 100cc of water to 100g of shiratamako little by little, but this really is just a rough idea. What you want is the consistency that’s typically described as “tender as earlobe.” The mixture shouldn’t be floury, but it shouldn’t stick too much to your hands, either. For four small dessert, place about 1/2 cup of shiratamako in a bowl, and add water gradually, as you knead the “dough” constantly with your hand. When it’s “tender as earlobe,” form them into small (about 1 inch in diameter) balls and make a dent in the middle. (The dent helps the dumplings to cook evenly.)

In a pot of boiling water, throw in the balls one by one. At first, the dumplings sink to the bottom, but when they are cooked through, they’ll float up to the surface. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and chill in a large bowl of cold water. (Don’t put them in the fridge; excessive chill makes the dumplings toughen.)

White Pearl Dumplings with Sesame SauceNow, there are several things you can do to dress the shiratama dango. The traditional ways are kinako (soybean flour mixed with sugar and a touch of salt, which has a wonderful nutty flavor), or anko (the all-too-familiar sweet red bean paste). I like them both, but I also like to experiment. The other day, I dressed my shiratama dango with a mixture of black sesame (finely ground until it becomes moist and pasty), sugar and a dash of soy sauce. I could have used a bit less soy sauce to make the sauce thicker and richer, but the sesame flavor and the sweetness were a wonderful addition to the subtle rice flavor of the shiratama dango.

Shiratama dango can also be served in syrup (I like them in ginger syrup) or with fruits like strawberries. Once you try making it, it’s ridiculously easy; it only takes about 5 minutes to make the dumplings themselves. Easy and refreshing, I think it’s a great introduction to cooking traditional Japanese sweets in your kitchen.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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