Shiratamako v.s. Mochiko
Unlike most of the glutinous rice flour, Shiratamako and mochiko are made from short-grain glutinous rice.
Although both mochiko and shiratamako are made from short-grain glutinous rice, the production processes are very different. In the past, shiratamako is manufactured in places where clean and clear stream can be obtained during the winter. The glutinous rice is soaked and softened in water, drained and ground it with water in a specially made mill, then compressed and dehydrated, and dried in the sun. The flour looks like coarse granules, yet the particles are fine and give the dango a very smooth texture.
The mochiko is a very finely powdered glutinous rice flour. The glutinous rice is washed in water, then dehydrated and pulverized into fine powder.
The mochiko is cheaper and much easier to get in most Asian grocery stores. I got mine for $2 for 16oz (454g). And the shiratamako costs about $4 for 5.2oz (150g).
I tested three types of glutinous rice flour..
- Shiratamako: the shiratamako worked really well. It was very easy to form it into a dough. After cooking, the dango was very smooth, elastic and bouncy. It doesn’t become harder when it cools down.
- Mochiko: it takes a longer time to incorporate the flour and water because the flour is not as absorbent as shiratomako. The texture is slightly grainy, gooey and much less elastic after it is cooked, but not as sticky as the one made with regular glutinous flour. If you substitute shiratamako with mochiko, add less water when making dango.
- Other glutinous flour: it was easy to knead into a dough, and look like almost the same as shiratamko. But the texture was completely different. It is sticky and chewy, tastes just like the Chinese tangyuan (sticky rice balls).
Where to buy:
Mochiko is available in most Asian grocery stores. If you can’t find mochiko, buy it on Amazon. It’s hard to find shiratamko in Asian grocery stores and online, and not all Japanese stores don’t carry it in the States. We often shop for Japanese groceries on Tokyo Central (an online store of Marukai Market) and stock up on shiratamoko to make Japanese sweets. For those who live in California, you can easily buy it in Marukai. Sometimes Mitsuwa carries it.
For making dango or other rice balls, we highly recommend using shiratamako. Substituting with mochiko or other glutinous rice flour is possible, but there’ll be a difference in texture.
For making daifuku, both shiratamako and mochiko are great. But we found that shiratamako was easier to work with and the skin made with shiratamako is much softer and smoother. After it’s been in the refrigerator for a couple of days, the skin is still soft and moist.