What is Shiratamako?
Shiratamako (白玉粉) is a type of glutinous rice flour, also called sweet rice flour, made from mochigome (もち米/糯米, glutinous short grain Japanese rice). Used specifically to make Japanese sweets known as wagashi. Shiratamako flour is what gives mochi its distinctive chewy and elastic texture. Literally translated, Shiratamako means “white jade powder” and you’ll see the unique coarse grain texture of the flour in the picture.
Here are several brands of shiratamako from Japanese grocery stores.
What is the difference between shiratamako and mochiko?
Shiratamako and mochiko are both glutinous rice flours, and you’ll find them being used interchangeably in recipes. However, there is an obvious difference between the flours when comes to flavor and texture.
The Shiratamako flour goes through a special processing called the wet-meal-method; The rice is first washed, soaked, ground very finely in water, then the liquid is pressed, dried and crushed turning into coarse granules. The magic happens you add the flour into the water, it dissolves quickly and yields a fine and pliable dough. The flour is almost exclusively made in Japan. Which explains why it is more expensive and less accessible than mochiko.
For making a perfect mochi, I definitely recommend using Shiratamako any time. Not only the flour has a much more refined flavor and springy texture compared to mochiko, but it is also so much easier to work with. The mochi stays soft and bouncy even after it has cooled.
There are also rice flours using long grain rice from other countries, but take note that they are not substitutions to either shiratamako and mochiko. The textures and flavors of these rice flours are simply not suitable for making Japanese sweets. To make Japanese sweets, you will have to use shiratamako or mochiko.
Where Can I buy Shiratamako?
You can buy shiratamako from your local Japanese supermarkets or online: Marukai or Mitsuwa.
Delicious Japanese Recipes Using Shiratamako
With shiratamako in your pantry, you will be able to make amazing Japanese sweets that surpass the tastes and textures of the store-bought sweets. They may look delicate, but I assure you that making homemade wagashi is not as difficult and the reward is sweetly satisfying!