May 3, 2010

Sasa Dango and Chimaki/笹だんご、ちまき

Sasa dango (dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves) are a specialty of the Niigata region. In the supermarket I frequent, a special section for the ingredients of sasa dango is set up around this time of year.

I don't know how to make sasa dango from scratch, so I buy premade ones. Today, I bought ten of them (right), together with ten chimaki (left), as requested by my wife.

Sasa dango (bottom) and chimaki (top):

One sasa dango is wrapped in two bamboo leaves with one long (approx. 90 cm) piece of string (suge or igusa).
笹だんご1個は、2枚の笹に、長い(約90 cm)1本のひも(スゲかイグサ)で包まっています。

The dango is mochi with mugwort, with tsubu an filling.

One chimaki is wrapped in two bamboo leaves with two shorter pieces of string.

Mochi (glutinous) rice inside:

Chimaki are eaten with a mixture of kinako (roasted soybean powder) and sugar (and a pinch of salt).

Chimaki are usually eaten on Tango no Sekku (Boys' Day), i.e., May 5.

Note: In Kanto (Eastern Japan), where I was born and bred, kashiwa mochi (mochi wrapped in an oak leaf) are usually eaten on Tango no Sekku, whereas in Kansai (Western Japan), chimaki are usually eaten. Here in Niigata, chimaki are more popular.
Sasa dango are also associated with Tango no Sekku, but are now eaten all year round.
注: 私が生まれ育った関東では、柏餅を端午の節句に食べますが、関西では、ちまきを食べます。新潟では、ちまきのほうが一般的です。


Amatō said...

I made chimaki just yesterday, because I wanted to show a recipe. But I made Chinese chimaki(中国風ちまき), it looks like these are wrapped in take-no-kawa(竹の皮)  not bamboo leaves.My chimaki were not sweet, with mushrooms and shrimps and meat(yum!).It is easy to make, only the wrapping is time consuming, I also had only green bamboo leaves.
Now I will try the sweet version.
So in sasadango,there is a mochi inside?It is made from sweet rice flour, not like dango which are made from joshinko?

PS. Thank you for reminding me of Kodomo-no-hi!But this time I didn't forget,after my hina matsuri "disaster".;-)

Hiroyuki said...

Amato: Actually, the type of chimaki you just described was the only type I knew before I came here.
I'm not a big fan of the type of chimaki I showed here, but my wife and children can have them as a meal!

The dango inside a sasadango is usually made from a mixture of mochiko and joshinko (for example, a 7:3 or 6:4 mixture).

I found this site, which provides a movie showing how to make sasadango.
To view the movie, click the
next to the triangle on the right
or scroll down until you see the window, and click the start button.

Tea Apprentice said...

I stumbled upon your site when searching for Japanese seafood recipes. Thank you for this blog -- I learn a lot from it! I was wondering, in the chimaki you show here is there any sugar, or just glutinous rice? I have never eaten chimaki, only seen pictures. I have also seen pictures of chimaki on a stick, with a longer shape. Is it acceptable to make glutinous rice chimaki in the longer shape, or should the kind of long chimaki be made from a kind of mochi (where you can't see the rice grains anymore)?

Arigatou gozaimasu!

Hiroyuki said...

Tea Apprentice: Just glutinous rice.

Chimaki on a stick? I have never seen such chimaki.
As you may know, chimaki originate from China.
Chimaki are glutinous rice (and other ingredients for Chinese ones) wrapped in bamboo leaves.

Are you referring to dango?
Dango are made of glutinous rice powder (mochiko) and/or regular rice powder (joshinko).

Tea Apprentice said...

Ah, those aren't sticks in the chimaki? Then maybe they are just the stems of the leaves. I was thinking of chimaki like at the bottom of this page: or the bottom of The latter seems to be for a different festival, though, not Boys' Day. Thank you for the information!

Hiroyuki said...

Teal Apprentice: Thanks for the links. They are not chimaki on sticks.
Probably this site will clarify your confusion: