Kushi Dango – Mochi

When I was a kid, we lived in California—in a predominantly asian community with all sorts of awesome Japanese markets. This was especially cool to me at the time because my favorite cartoons were anime and I could go to these places and get all the Japanese treats I saw in the cartoons—sweet mochi, red bean cakes shaped like carp, etc. It also just so happened that my parents were avid Sumo fans. We even took a family road trip to Canada to see a professional tournament. It was at one of these tournaments that I first had Kushi Dango.

Kushi Dango is a savory style mochi, grilled on a skewer and brushed with a sweet and salty sauce. Later it got harder to find fresh Kushi Dango, especially in Hawaii. So I  yoinked this recipe and simplified it for all of those who may not be familiar with the wonder mochi has to offer.

Kushi Dango

1 1/3 cup rice flour
3/4 boiling water
Mitarashi Sauce:
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp potato starch + 1 tbsp water

You can use mochiko (sweet rice flour), they will just be a bit stickier and chewier. Joshinko, plain rice flour is made from long grain rice and not as glutinous as the short grain mochiko. Don’t try to use western style rice flour– the stuff you’d find in the gluten-free zone of American and western markets– it is not the same as Japanese  or other Asian rice flours.

I used party picks here, but traditionally they are grilled on soaked skewers. Pour the hot water over the rice flour and stir with a wooden spoon or paddle. Once it has cooled enough to handle, knead in the bowl with a little extra rice flour. It is more folding over and over to make sure there are no lumps.

Next pull off little scoops and roll them in between your palms to form smooth balls. They should be around 3/4 inch in diameter or about the size of a walnut in it’s shell. Place into a lightly greased steamer with some room in between. They  will expand and stick together, so give them some space if you can. Steam the rice balls on high for 10-15 minutes.

While it is steaming, start the sauce by bringing the water, sugar and soy sauce to a boil. Add the potato starch mixed in water and stir until thickened. Keep on low.

Scoop them out and push on to damp skewers. They will be very sticky. Place the skewered mochi on a hot, non-stick pan and grill each side until a golden brown. Brush with the mitarashi sauce and serve  immediately. If you used a joshinko rice flour they will last longer,  if you used mochiko they will get denser the longer you wait to eat them.

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