Saturday, October 3, 2009

It's Tsukimi!

Tsukimi is a Japanese moon viewing festival, which as a concept, isn't it just totally charming? You can read a little more about it here, but the idea is that the moon tonight is supposed to be the brightest and the most beautiful in the year, and what you do to celebrate Tsukimi is simply to go outside and enjoy it. Oh, and also eat kushidango, special rice dumplings which look like little moons until you get the sauce on them and they're all grilled and everything, and then they look like shiny lumps of edible amber.

These are a dessert food, and really simple, but really sticky after they're steamed. None of the recipes I read offered any tips on dealing with the stickiness, but wetting your hands and utensils helps a lot. I used this recipe, which I reproduce here. I halved it, but half the sauce would be enough for a full dumpling recipe.


Dango (dumplings):
1 1/3 cup joshinko (rice flour)
3/4 cup warm water

2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp katakuriko (dogtooth violet starch) /cornstarch
1 1/2 tbsp water
Bamboo skewers

Put rice flour in a bowl and add warm water. Knead the dough well. It will be tough, but try not to add any more water. Once you've got a solid mass, break pieces off it and roll them into dumplings about ¾ inches in diameter (I got 15 using half a recipe). Place the dumplings in a steamer and steam them on high heat for 10 minutes.

Cool the dumplings and skewer them on bamboo sticks (3-4 dumplings per stick).

The dumplings will keep for a while, so you can set them aside to make the sauce or the rest of your supper at this point. Mix water, sugar, and soy sauce in a pan and put it on medium heat. Mix the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. When the sauce boils, add the starch mixture and mix quickly, stirring until the sauce turns translucent and shiny. Slightly grill the skewered dumplings and brush the sauce over them. I gave mine three or four separate coats while they were grilling, and would recommend this.

Are they really super-delicious? Mmm, I would say not, though they are awfully pretty. To me they taste over-processed, with the white rice flour and white sugar. But you may not agree—have your own moon viewing festival and try them for yourself!


  1. I had some of these at a tea house not long ago - they are delicious!

  2. SUPERB! I celebrated the moon through the medium of food - I baked a pie.

  3. love your blog! I wish I'd known about Tsukimi earlier, too, I would have had a hard time resisting making little mini-moons!