Glutinous rice flour has always been a hidden star ingredient in Asian households. Traditionally, chefs will use it to make various types of Asian desserts and treats.
White and sweet rice flours are both common staple ingredients in South Asian pantries. However, they have recently gained more attention than before due to the rise of gluten-free diets. As a result, it has emerged as a great alternative to wheat flour, tapioca starch and potato starch.
If you're looking to try a gluten-free diet, this staple ingredient is the most valuable secret weapon in your kitchen.
Let us enlighten you about this great variety of flour. We’ll also tell you about some smart cooking tips along with some recipes using glutinous rice flour. You'll become a pro at cooking with it in no time!
What Is Glutinous Rice Flour?
Glutinous rice flour is made from grounded short-grain sweet white rice. Moreover, it is a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. It is also known as Sweet Rice Flour or Shiratamako (白玉粉) in Japanese.
The term ‘glutinous’ refers to this particular ingredient’s characteristic consistency and texture. This variety of flour has a sticky and gluey consistency when fully cooked. When heated, it becomes a chewy texture. It is responsible for the unique texture of dumplings and many Asian desserts.
This staple Asian ingredient has a subtly sweet and milky taste. It tastes sweeter than other types of flour. Therefore, cooks in Asia extensively use it in making various Asian desserts.
However, the sweet taste of this baking ingredient is not very prominent or noticeable, and many people confuse it with having a neutral flavour.
Half a cup of glutinous rice flour contains 220 calories, with 92% from carbohydrates.
Cooked Glutinous Rice Flour
This staple ingredient is pure white as it is milled from white rice grains. It is finely milled and has a powdery texture like most uncooked flours.
When you get it from stores, it is initially raw. Hence, you need to fully cook before consuming it.
It also tends to separate and not mix so well when combined with water. Therefore, you must continuously stir the batter to get a uniform consistency and prevent residual settling.
Cooked glutinous rice flour exhibits unique textural and sensory properties, unlike other alternatives. For example:
- After cooking, it tends to thicken and form a gel-like composition when heated for some time.
- It develops a chewy and sticky texture on its exterior surface, essential in making Asian foods.
- Cooked shiratamako will have lumps and smell different from the raw mochiko.
- The cooked form is not as smooth to touch. It feels a bit sandy without water and becomes sticky when you add water to it.
- Cooked shiratamako appears slightly yellow, contrary to the raw form’s pure white colour.
Glutinous Rice Flour vs Rice Flour
While rice flour is milled from long-grain or medium-grain white rice. Meanwhile, glutinous rice flour is made from grounding short-grain white rice. For both types, the type of rice commonly used in cookers are used to make the flour and have an opaque appearance.
Regular rice flour can vary in colour depending on the type of grain used, whether brown or white. However, you mill sweet mochi grain with a bright white colour to make glutinous rice flour.
Apart from this primary difference, both types also differ in textural properties when cooked. Both flours impart specific characteristics which make them a better choice for certain types of food.
Texture And Culinary Uses
Rice flour tends to harden faster. Hence, many use it to make pastries, noodles and baked goods such as cakes, bread and muffins. On the contrary, shiratamako is sticky and chewy. Hence, this makes it more suitable for thickening gravies because of its viscosity. Moreover, its stickiness makes it perfect for making dumplings and other Asian desserts too.
White rice flour can replace wheat and all-purpose flour in most baked goods. It can also be an alternative to sorghum flour in the case of gluten-free ingredients. However, shiratamako is a better replacement for tapioca and potato starch.
Despite being gluten-free, it can enhance the sensory properties of the food. You can find glutinous rice flour on Amazon and in Asian supermarkets.
It helps with baking moist yet well-structured gluten-free cakes. In addition, it helps with flaky pastries, thick batters, and smooth sauces.
Here are some properties of glutinous rice flour and its common uses.
Like any other type of flour, shiratamako is used as a thickening agent while making cohesive sauces, soups and gravies.
It is very dense. Hence, it can be added to sauces and gravies to obtain the desired consistency and mouthfeel.
Moreover, shiratamako is a star ingredient in savoury Asian foods such as dumplings. This is due to its chewy texture that imparts in confections.
Other glutinous rice flour recipes include pancakes, mochi, boba pearls and palitaw, which are Filipino sweet cakes.
In Asian cuisine, many cooks extensively use sweet rice flour for making numerous desserts. This is because of its delightful flavour and texture.
If you observe Shiratamako, you will find that it has a natural elasticity. It mimics the elastic properties of gluten, excellent for making rice noodles.
You cannot replace any gluten flour with this shiratamako as you might not get the desired results. Hence always search the web before replacing any base baking ingredient. Here are a few tips for you.
- Compared to white and brown rice flour, shiratamako has a greater tendency to combine with fats. Therefore, you don’t need to add extra starches to get a particular mouth feel.
- While baking with glutinous rice flour, try not to use it more than 40% in the overall blend for light and fluffy cakes. By doing this, you will also prevent the overwhelming taste of shiratamako.
- When adjusting the consistency of cheese or roux sauces, you may swap all-purpose flour with sweet rice flour in the ratio of 1:1.
- They are unlike other starchy flours, which need to be added in the form of a cold water slurry to thicken gravies. You can add shiratamako directly to sauces.
Glutinous rice flour tops the gluten-free baking ingredient list in every way. However, there are other alternatives you can consider as well.
For sauces and stews, you can swap it with all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio. However, this substitute will not be a gluten-free option. Another less common alternative in shiratamako recipes is arrowroot powder.
For baking glutinous rice flour recipes, you can use the following types as a substitute. However, you should keep in mind that using the following substitutes will result in some variation to the final recipe.
|Substitute Name||Conversion Amount||Cooking Application|
|Tapioca flour||1:1||Chewy baked items|
|Potato Starch||1:1||Batters/ binding agent|
|Almond Flour||1.5 cup Almond Flour: 1 cup Sweet Rice Flour||Gluten-free baked items|
|Coconut Flour||1.5 cup Coconut Flour: 1 cup Sweet Rice Flour||Gluten-free baked items|
|Cornstarch/ Cornflour||1:1||Thickening agent|
How To Store
It is best to use sweet mochiko within three months of their best-by date. However, if you store your staple flour in the refrigerator, you can safely use it for up to 1 year. This is because it doesn’t spoil readily if stored in a dark, moisture-free and airtight place.
Glutinous Rice Flour Recipes to Try
Shiratamako is undoubtedly an indispensable ingredient variety in the realm of all flours. Once you start incorporating it into your recipes, you’ll enjoy exploring the various properties of this ingredient. Below are some interesting shiratamako recipes we believe you’ll enjoy recreating.
Tang Yuan is an Asian dessert delicacy made from glutinous flour immersed in water. These sweet soup balls contain a sweet filling and are served with some hot liquid. The soup balls can be deep-fried or boiled in sweet, sticky syrup to enhance their flavour.
Mochi donuts are a new take on the usual doughnuts. They are made from shiratamako combined with egg, milk and sugar. Its distinct shape, unique chewy texture, along yummy toppings makes them a must-try glutinous rice flour recipe.
Red bean mochi is a sweet Japanese confection made from this type of flour. The exterior surface of this Japanese treat surrounds a bean paste filling in the middle. When you bite into it, you will find that the treat bursts with an indulging sweet flavour.
Snow Skin Mooncakes
As its name suggests, snow skin mooncakes are a sweet Chinese treat with a smooth texture and flavorful fillings inside. Their soft dough and creamy fillings made them a famous traditional snack.
Our Thoughts on Glutinous Rice Flour
We hope you can collect great information about the undeniably excellent glutinous rice flour. Now that you understand the food science behind this staple ingredient, you can easily create some Master Chef level dishes with it.