Cultural Appropriation

I’ve yet to really write anything about Monster Hunter Rise, and that’s mostly because I’ve been keeping myself so busy playing Monster Hunter Rise. But there’s one thing about the newest entry in the MH series that I feel like I absolutely need to do a little spiel about.

An important part of every Monster Hunter game is eating before you go on a quest. You select a few ingredients, and a meal is whipped up that provides an increase to your stats and maybe some special buffs. Typically the meal is a cartoonishly huge plate of meat, fish, and veggies. MH Rise, being very strongly ninja-themed, replaces that “normal” meal with dango: a traditional Japanese rice snack.

While I’m sure I’ve seen dango somewhere else during the course my life (probably a different video game), I’ve never really known what it was called or what it was made of until MH Rise came along and made a huge deal out of it. Learning more about the snack from the game, and partially being persuaded by how every character is obsessed with the stuff, I felt like it was something that I had to try for myself.

Of course, I don’t live in Japan, so… I think you see where this is going.

Yes, that’s right. I made my own dango. And while they look just about perfect in the image above, rest assured that this was my third batch, and the first two didn’t come out anywhere near as well.

It’s actually a stupidly easy recipe: dango is made from rice flour and sugar. The recipe I followed uses a combination of both glutinous and non-glutinous rice flour, but you could feasibly just choose one and go for it. You just mix the flour and sugar together, add a little water to goop it up, and then pop it in the microwave. Once it’s done, you knead and knead and knead the dough, colour and/or flavour it to your liking, and then roll it onto balls. Takes like ten, maybe fifteen minutes. Stupidly easy.

Side note: While making dango, I’ve learned how to knead dough properly, and also the importance of doing so. So this little adventure has absolutely improved my general baking skill. Bonus!

The dango in Monster Hunter Rise comes in all sorts of wacky colours and patterns, but I thought it best to stick with the most common style. That’s not to say that I didn’t add a little zazz, though. The red balls are coloured with peach-mango MiO, and while the pictured green dango only has food colouring in it to give it that verdant hue, I tried putting some peppermint flavouring into my previous batches. Turns out that even a single drop of peppermint is way too strong for a small batch like this. You’d need to make at least twice as much for it not to be overpowering. And I’m a big fan of peppermint, so I think that’s really saying something.

I mentioned that the characters in Monster Hunter are obsessed with dango, but how does that translate to real life? Well, I think it’s pretty telling that I’ve made it three times in less than three weeks. Dango is, in fact, quite a delicious little treat. It’s not exactly something that I would devote my life to, but I think that my version of it, at least, is really good.

My only regret is that I cheaped out and bought metal skewers for this project. I mean, it’s not that a big of a deal, and the bamboo skewers were egregiously expensive, but imagine how much more authentic my dango would look on the bamboo skewers. Imagine it! I guess I also lose authenticity points for buying my rice flour from Wal-Mart instead of some hole-in-the-wall Asian supermarket, but what can you do? It’s COVID times. I’m not going into any establishment that I don’t absolutely need to. I have paired all of my dango with various teas though, so at least I got that part right.

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