maple and matcha


Japanese dango (rice cakes) | moon festival

Our friend recently invited us over to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as Moon Festival. As a community of graduate students, most of us are far from family and old friends. He told us that Moon Festival is about spending time with your family, so instead of being alone, we spent time together in our new student “family.”

Another friend made these absolutely gorgeous traditional moon cakes! They are orange from the squash, and he used molds to get the particular shape. Well, I don’t know how traditional the car shape is 🙂 (He wanted to distinguish the ones that contained peanuts, in case anyone had a peanut allergy.)


Similar festivities occur in other Asian countries, including Tsukimi (月見 or moon viewing) in Japan. I wanted to contribute a tradition Tsukimi food, so I decided on dango, a Japanese rice cake, in this case filled with sweet red bean paste. They kind of look like little moons, don’t they?


This is a very simple but fun recipe, since you get to shape the cakes by hand. With that in mind…please forgive the uneven appearance!


  • 1 1/3 cup rice flour
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • Adzuki (red bean) paste, for the filling


  • Mix the rice flour and water together and knead. Adjust the amounts as needed so that it becomes the consistency of an earlobe. Don’t laugh – this is apparently the oft-used description for cooking dango!
  • Form a small ball (about 1 inch in diameter) of dough, then press it flat.
  • Spoon a small amount of red bean paste into the center of the circle. Fold the edges around and push together to seal and make a ball.
  • Drop the dango into a pot of boiling water. At the start, they will sink to the bottom. Only add enough so there is some space between each dango.
  • Once they bob to the surface, cook for 2 minutes remove, then remove.
  • The dango will be very sticky and dry out if you leave them a while before eating. To avoid this, store in a container of cold water.



I hope you are enjoying your autumn with the friends and family dear to you!