Kimika Soko Takechi
Larry Sokyo Tiscornia
teatimes@chanoyu.com

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Hanamidango
(flower viewing dumplings)

Hanamidango - The name of this sweet means "flower viewing dumplings" eaten during the cherry blossom season. The brown represents the tree trunk and branches, the green the leaves and the pink the blossoms.

Make 3 batches of konashi (one with pink colored bean paste, one with azuki(adzuki) bean paste and one white bean paste flavored/colored with yomogi [mugwort]). You can either use fresh yomogi that has been washed, blanched and chopped, or the dried variety available in Japanese and Asian markets. If using the dried variety, soften in a little cold water before using.  (note - If yomogi is not available a nice flavor and color can be achieved by using matcha, powdered green tea.)

Divide each of the 3 batches into 15gm (1/2oz) pieces and roll into smooth balls in the palms of you hands using a little mitsu if needed. Using a bamboo skewer, first thread the brown ball, then the green one and finally the pink. If serving in a traditional dangobako (dumpling box) leave a little space between the green and pink ball so that the skewer can rest on the box divider. It is also a good idea to place the pink ball so that it covers the tip of the skewer.

Konashi Ingredients:
koshian (sweet smooth bean paste) 300gm (10.6oz) (a little harder than usual)
white all purpose flour 30gm (approx. 3T)
mochiko (sweet rice flour) 3gm (approx. 1tsp)
granulated sugar 15gm (approx. 1/2oz)
mitsu (sugar water syrup)

Preparation:
For the mitsu - (This sugar water syrup can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator.) Dissolve equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan over low heat. When the sugar is melted transfer to a glass container and let it cool.

For the konashi - Knead the flour and mochiko into the koshian until it is completely incorporated. Place the mixture in a cloth lined steamer and steam over medium/high heat for approximately 15 minutes or until all of the raw flour taste is gone.

Remove the cloth, and bean paste, from the steamer and knead further using clean damp cotton towels. As you knead the bean paste, slowly incorporate the sugar. (If the bean paste gets too sticky it can be kneaded using plastic film like Saran Wrap [other brands may leave a plastic taste].) Once the sugar has been completely incorporated, and the bean paste has cooled slightly, the mitsu can be added. Continuing to use a damp towel knead in a small amount of the mitsu (approx. 1 to 2tsp). Coat the outside of the konashi with some mitsu and place in a glass bowl to cool completely for several hours. The bowl can be covered with plastic wrap after it cools to prevent it from drying out. When ready to use, knead further using a little mitsu on your hands to prevent sticking.

NOTE - If coloring or flavoring is going to be used it can be kneaded in after the mitsu.

One recipe makes approximately 20 dango (dumplings).

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