Okinawa dango is a lightly sweet Japanese style fried donut hole and a popular dessert that is often found at summer Obon festivals in the West. Okinawa dango is also known as sata andagi, in the dialect of the Okinawa region of Japan. “Sata” means sugar, while “andagi” means deep fried.
The summer festivals where Okinawa dango are so popular in the West, are an annual Buddhist tradition and is celebrated by temples both in Japan and in the West. The Obon festival celebrates long lost family and ancestors.
There are a variety of recipes for Okinawa dango, ranging from light to heavy, but the recipe shared in this post is for a dango that is rather dense and the texture of the “donut” resembles a cake. The dango can be made with just a few basic pantry items such as flour, sugar, baking powder, eggs, and milk.
- 3 cups flour (all-purpose)
- 1 1/2 cup sugar (granulated)
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups canola oil (or more as needed for frying)
- Optional: canola cooking spray
- Garnish: powdered sugar (or a mixture of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar)
- Combine dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients: eggs, milk and vanilla extract. Lightly whisk together the wet ingredients until incorporated.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until incorporated using a wooden spoon or spatula. There is no need to use an electric hand mixer or an upright mixer such as a Kitchen Aid. Be careful not to over mix the batter as the dango will become hard after it is cooked.
- In a medium pot, heat canola oil. There should be enough oil to just cover the tops of the Okinawa dango. If you have a cooking thermometer, I recommend testing the oil. The best temperature would be within the range of 365 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit but any hotter than 375 and you risk the chance of the dango darkening too quickly or even burning.
- Prepare a large platter lined with paper towels to drain the cooked Okinawa dango.
- Shape dough into small balls, spray a measuring teaspoon or teaspoon scoop with cooking spray to prevent the dough from sticking too much. Add a bit more than a heaping teaspoon, and deep fry. Depending on the size of the Okinawa dango, frying time will vary but at least 4 minutes will be required to make sure that the center of the dango is cooked through. Test one dango by cutting it with a knife to make sure the center is cooked through.
- Allow the dango to cool and drain on paper towels. Then dust with powdered sugar, or a mixture of ground cinnamon and granulated sugar. The dango may also be eaten plain if desired.