How to make ★Rabbit Dumpling★for Japanese Moon Festival~うさぎ饅頭の作り方~(EP71)

Posted on Posted in Japanese traditional recipes, treats

Today, I will show you how to make “Rabbit Dumpling” , in Japanese “Usagi Manju”.

“Usagi” means “rabbit” “Manju” means sweet dumpling filled with red bean paste.

I will be making 2 types, one is an authentic style, and the other is the ingredients which you can easily find.

24th of September (the day is not fixed because based on the lunar calender)   we have  Moon Festival.

It is just before the harvest, we show our appreciation to the moon.

The Moon on the day is said to be the best moon in the year.  We enjoy viewing the beauty.

While we enjoying, we offer Sweets to the moon on that day, like rice cake balls or sweet dumplings which I am introducing today.  Rice cake balls represent the moon itself.

Then, why we make Rabbit?  That’s because we see the shade of the moon as rabbits pounding the rice cake.

What do you see in the moon in your country?


★Usagi Manju★ authentic recipe

ingredients  10 pieces


60g Yamaimo (Japanese mountain yam)

120g white sugar

90g rice flour (preferably very fine)


300g red bean paste ※divide into 10, shape into ping-pong ball


1.Peel yam, then grade into a paste.  There is no substitute for Japanese yam. Sorry for that.

You can find freeze-dried Japanese yam on my Amazon the store

If you want to make this adorable dumplings, you have to have yam.

2.Transfer to Suribachi mortar. Pound until smooth with a pestle for a couple of minutes.  Add sugar and pound to combine.  The Japanese yam is so sticky that we use mortar and pestle.   You can do this with a bowl and wooden spatula.

3.Add the rice flour to a bowl, make a well in the center. Add Japanese yam into the well.  It’s very sticky, take your time to mix, with the folding motion.  Switch to hand, gradually fold rice flour to the yam.

When it mixed thoroughly, let it sit while preparing red bean paste.

4.Divide red bean paste into ten. 30g each.

5.Dust your working surface with rice flour. Transfer the dough onto the rice flour.  Shape into the cylinder, then divide into ten.  About 20g each.

6.With dusted hand, take one dough. Spread the dough with your fingers about 7~8 cm in diameter.  Put red bean on top, wrap it up with the dough.  Rotate the dumpling on your palm, spread the dough up around the red bean.

Pinch to seal the end.  Rotate on your palm to make into a round shape.

7.Pinch lightly both sides to shape into a rabbit. Head should be narrower than the hip.  Line them on the parchment-lined

8.Steam on medium for 15 minutes. The Japanese yam rises the dough.  Take out from the streamer with a moistened finger.  If your finger is dry, the dough would stick to it and so hot!

9.Cool them on the wire rack. While cooling, prepare for the hot skewer to mark rabbit ears.  Heat your BBQ skewer on the flame, until red.  Take one rabbit onto your palm, mark the ear like so.  You have to pay much attention not to burn your self!  Be careful with the step.

10.Dissolve a tiny amount of red food color in water on a tray. Take a toothpick and tint the eyes to your rabbit.




★Rabbit Manju★sweet potato

ingredients 10 pieces


100g cake flour ※all purpose flour makes tougher texture

3g baking powder

35g water

50g white sugar

<sweet potato filling>

1 medium sweet potato ※300g net weight.

30~50g sugar

A pinch of salt

1.Scrub the sweet potato well. Cut into chunks, then soak in water to remove excess starch.

Cut off the skin.  Sweet potato is so firm that I don’t use peeler.  But it’s your choice how to peel it.

2.Put a pot on a scale to measure the weight of drained sweet potato.( it was  300g ) Add a pinch of salt and a half a cup of water.  Put the lid on and cook on medium-low for 20 minutes or until folk tender.

3.Turn off the heat and mush the sweet potato while there are still some liquid on the bottom. Add sugar to taste.  I add 10% of the weight.    (30g)

4. You can add up to 30% of the weight.   Turn the heat to low, mix until the sugar dissolved.  If the paste is too firm, add some water. If the paste is too loose, cook to evaporate the excess moisture.  Transfer to a tray to cool.

5.Shift the flour into bowl. Dissolve baking powder in water.  Add about a half of the water and dissolve.  Add rest of the water and sugar.  Whisk to dissolve.  The solution should be semi-translucent.

6.Pour the wet ingredients to the dry. Fold to combine. Do not over-mix otherwise making tough dumpling.  Let it sit while preparing the filling.

7.Divide the sweet potato filling into 10.  About 30g each.  Shape into a ping-pong ball.

8.Dust your working surface with flour. Transfer the dough onto it.  Knead to make a cylinder.  Divide into 10.  About 20g each.

9.Take one dough with dusted finger. Spread with your finger to wrap it up.  Rotate the dumpling spreading the dough around the filling.  Seal the end, then shape into rabbit.

10.When you transfer to the steamer, Remove the excess flour with the pastry brush.

11.Steam on high for 3 minutes to rise the dough, then lower the heat to medium-low and cook 12 minutes more.

12.Take out and make their faces as we did to the authentic one.


The authentic Rabbit dumpling:

Lots of red bean filling inside, the skin is thin but moist.  This is one of the kind of formal sweets for tea ceremony.

It tastes so classy.  (I don’t know if you use the word “classy” for food.)

Sweet potato dumpling:

On the other hand, the sweet potato Manju is a kind of everyday treat.

The comfortable natural sweetness is good for pick-me-up snack in the afternoon.


We offer these dumplings for the moon, then enjoy.

When I was a kid, I couldn’t resist to take one.  Who can? Lol.

Give it a try and enjoy the Japanese style moon festival.



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