Kabocha Shiratama–How to Make Pumpkin Rice Cake

Kabocha Shiratama–How to Make Pumpkin Rice Cake

It’s almost Jūsanya, so we tried making moon-inspired pumpkin rice cake–with only three ingredients!

As we mentioned in our last post, Jūgoya, “the Night of the 15th” or the moon festival originally imported from China, is celebrated in September. This month on Monday the 18th, we will celebrate Jūsanya, or “the Night of the 13th,” which is a uniquely Japanese celebration. On this night, the moon is at her second best of the entire year. With the cooler weather, this is a perfect chance to sit on your terrace or by an open window and enjoy her beauty while eating seasonal goodies like taro potato, chestnuts, pumpkin, and the ever-auspicious adzuki bean (in other words, it’s another excuse to eat osekihan–made from glutinous mochi rice and adzuki beans, often sprinkled with salt and black sesame seeds).

If you look forward to eating 15 dango in one go every year for Jūgoya, you will be happy to know that similarly, it’s tradition to eat a pyramid stack of 13 dango (sticky rice balls) on Jūsanya, one for each of the 13 nights! This year, as a special treat, we decided to make moon-inspired shiratama dango, colored yellow with kabocha (pumpkin)!  


100g pumpkin

100g shiratamako

Milk/nut milk (or water, for those with allergies)

How to make:

1. Prepare your pumpkin beforehand using your favorite steaming method. Chop into bite-sized pieces and remove the green rind.

2. Mash while still hot and add shiratamako.

3. Rub together with your fingers until combined (like when making a puff pastry crust). The result should be dry and crumbly.

4. Add milk or water two tablespoons at a time until the dough holds together without crumbling apart when pinched. The ideal texture is  耳たぶの硬さ (mimi tabu no katasa), firm an earlobe. Not exactly appetizing, but everyone has ear lobes, so it’s an easy gauge, right?

5. Knead together until the yellow of the pumpkin is blended uniformly, then form into one big ball.

More of a blob than a ball.

6. Pinch off pieces of the big ball and form into small balls. (Using a teaspoon as a scoop helps to make them all the same size!)

You can leave them as balls, or squish them down a little bit to make moon-like disks.

7. What you plan to eat immediately, plop into a pot of boiling water. (The rest you can freeze.) Once the balls pop up to the surface and start to flip over on themselves, they are done!

8. Remove immediately from boiling water with a sieve spoon, and add to ice water. Drain before serving. Enjoy plain, or add your favorite wagashi (Japanese traditional sweets) topping!

Western style–enjoy with trail mix!

What’s your favorite dango topping, and how will you celebrate Jūsanya?

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