Shiratama Dango is delightfully soft white balls made of sweet glutinous rice flour. Sometimes confused with mochi because they are so similar, dango is made from shiratamako or sweet glutinous rice flour rather than glutinous rice grains. Mochi is made by pounding steamed glutinous rice; dango is formed out of soft dough made from shiratamako and water, formed into balls and then boiled in water.
The dango cooks quickly in boiling water, rising to the top when done. Once prepared, the dango may be eaten in different ways. During the summer, dango is a part of a popular chilled gelatin dish called anmitsu which contains kanten cubes, shiratama dango, chilled fruit with syrup and anko. Dango also can be strung on short wooden skewers and basted with different flavored glazes. Sometimes, the dango is dusted with a mixture of sugar and sweet toasted soybean starch called kinako, a Japanese version of cinnamon-sugar. There are other types of dango that are colorful and sweetly flavored with milk and juices as well.
2 cup shiratamako (sweet rice flour)
Place the shiratamako into a large mixing bowl. Slowly add water and, using your fingers, knead the mixture until it becomes a soft, pliable dough. There is a saying that it should be as soft and smooth as an earlobe.
When you achieve this consistency, pinch off small 3/4 –inch balls and roll until smooth. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop in the dango balls. When they are cooked, they will rise to the top. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain. Place into a bowl of chilled water. Use the dango as desired.
Kinako: Blend ½ cup of kinako (toasted soybean flour) with 4 Tbsp. sugar and sprinkle on top of cooked, drained and chilled dango.
Teriyaki glaze: Mix together 3/4 cup soy sauce with ½ cup sugar in a small pot over low heat. Add one small slice of fresh ginger. Heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and chill. String three dango onto a short wooden skewer. Brush chilled glaze over skewered dango.