- Mitarashi Dango
It is easy to forget the other aspects in life when one is caught up in the flurry of university applications and the inevitable paranoia of starting down the wrong path at the crossroads. And by ‘other aspects’ I am actually just referring to my dreadfully late blog posts.
What do people do with late blog posts though? Harden their resolve and plow right on, typing out scatchy details and different variations of ‘It was great…I think’, that at the end of the day when they view their completed post, they feel like they’ve created an entire fictional account and proceed to quickly hit the ‘Move to Trash’ button?
Someone, please do enlighten me – I’d like to feel normal.
It’s quite like how I think my stress and losing sleep over what course to do in uni doesn’t quite fit into what is generally known to be ‘normal’. But that’s just how I feel. Then again, I’m the one who feels an intimate connection with little doughs of rice flour, shaping and moulding them with tender loving care, gently plopping them into a nice hot bath, cringing at their suffering atop the grill and seeing them through their anointing of rich soy syrup…
So I made dangos the other day. I don’t know which day, but I just know I made them. I did! You don’t believ- no, I really di- just because this is a late post doesn’t mean that I made this up ok?!Gushi, testify for me! You had an entire stick of four…I think.
Looks like the stress obliterated a larger population of my brain cells than I originally thought.
All cellular jokes aside now, I bought this adorable pre-mix from Meidi-ya weeks ago, the very same day that my family wanted to have lunch at Tampopo but decided not to.
Come on, this is adorable, you have to agree with me! Normally, I don’t buy pre-mixes because I like to do things from ground up. The effort justifies the subsequent calories, you see. I will, however, buy Japanese pre-mixes because I like the challenge of deciphering and taking a wild shot at a language I’m dying to learn but never got to (and by ‘deciphering’ I actually mean desperately searching for numbers that may or may not be values for minutes or temperatures and staring intently at the cute, ordered pictures in the hopes that they’d talk to me).
Trust me when I say that one forms an instant bond with such heart-breaking little dough balls.
The packet makes for 40 individual dangos, as shown on the picture and comes with a separate packet of adzuki (red beans) and a packet of mitarashi sauce. I made half of the packet as I wasn’t entirely sure of the family’s response towards grilled tang yuans/ahbolings. They aren’t the same though, these dangos being made with a mixture of shiratamako (sweet or glutinous rice flour) and joushinko (flour milled from regular Japanese rice).
Just so you know, I wasn’t intending on purchasing a pre-mix. I had actually scoured the entire Meidi-ya for the respective flours that were recommended for making dangos and only managed to find the shiratamako. No other types of flours will work, I knew, so I chose to buy the pre-mix instead.
Ready-made mitarashi dango syrup.
They were such a joy to make, and the process was so simple that I found myself sitting on the kitchen chair, hugging my knees to my chest and rocking back and forth as I waited patiently and watched as the dumplings floated serenely to the top of the pot.
I’d never made any sort of dumplings before, so it was with no less than utter delight when – anxious if they were cooked thoroughly – I tentatively prodded one lone round of dough and it sprung back responsively. Alive.
Bathing them with the syrup, I took the first gummy bite, the scent of lightly charred rice flour reminded me of the crisp Japanese rice crackers I somehow always used to have around the house when I was younger. I absentmindedly coated my skewer of dangos with another layer of syrup as I stared off into space, the fragrance of the dumplings reminiscent of my childhood and of the first time I was fed and shared a stick of mitarashi dango at Ion last year.
I suppose it is with an almost concrete certainty that I just know that where ever I land up in, or whatever course of study I undertake from now on, as long as I have the time to make the little dumpling or two, I’ll be happy.
After all, food is life.
Sometimes all we need is to be reminded of that.