2 different rice flours2 kinds of rice flours are used here. The combination makes a dumpling that is chewy and not too sticky.
Joushinko or Johshinko (上新粉, sometimes spelled Jyoshinko) is made from regular Japanese rice (uruchi-mai).
Shiratamako (白玉粉）is sweet or glutinous rice flour, or mochiko, mixed with a little corn starch or potato starch.
If you can’t find shiramako, you can use mochiko with about 1 tablespoon of cornstarch or potato starch flour added. You can find all of these flours at a Japanese grocery store - a general Asian grocery store may not carry them. You might be able to find them at a health food store too, since rice flour is more popular nowadays as a gluten-free thickening agent for sauces. The hardest part of this whole recipe is finding the two rice flours.
If you can’t find joushinko and/or shiratamako or mochiko…You must use rice flour. Wheat flours or other grain flours will not work!
For the joushinko, substitute regular rice flour - one that’s not labeled “sweet” or “glutinous”. For the shiratamako or mochiko, substitute ‘sweet’ rice flour (one that is labeled ‘sweet’ or ‘glutionous’), which is not actually sweet to taste like sugar; it’s just more sticky. You can find these rice flours at general Asian or Chinese grocery stores, as well as some health food stores. Please note that using these different rice flours will change the flavor and texture of the dango, but at least you will have dango with more or less the correct consistency. (You can even experiment with things like red rice flour instead of johshinko.)
(Edited) Can you use all mochiko? You could, but the dango will be of a different texture, gooey and hard to mix up. Please do try to find the non-glutinous type of rice flour to add to mochiko. I have seen both kinds sold at many Chinese grocery stores, so it should not be that hard to find if you have access to a Chinese or general Asian grocery store.
Once you have found the rice flours, the rest is a breeze.
Recipe: Mitarashi Dango
makes about 25 dumplings (5 skewers).
For the dango (dumplings):
• 1 cup (220ml) joushinko
• 1/2 cup (110ml) shiratamako, or mochiko plus 1 Tbs. of cornstarch or potato starch
• 1 1/2 cups (265ml) or so of hot tap water (water that’s hot if you put your hand in, but doesn’t burn you)
• A pot of boiling salted water
Mix together the joushinko and the hot water. Add the shiratamako. Mix until it forms a soft dough that feels a bit dry to the touch. It’s a very pleasant dough to handle. (Note: The Japanese traditional advice on the dough's consistency is "as soft as an earlobe.") Divide the dough into 25 pieces (you can do this by forming a long log and cutting it, or just divide it up in the bowl and eyeball it).
Make each piece into a little round ball. It doesn’t have to be perfect in shape - a little bumpiness is fine. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt, as you would for boiling pasta. Add the dumplings a few at a time to the pot. After a few minutes, the dumplings will come floating to the surface. Boil for a further 3-4 minutes, then scoop out with a slotted spoon or similar. Immediately dump the dumplings into a bowl of cold water. Put the dumplings on skewers, 4 or 5 per skewer. Try to pierce the dumplings in the middle. Grill the skewered dumplings on a grill or a grill pan, turning several times, until nice burn marks form over them.
For the mitarashi sauce:
• 1/4 cup (55 ml) sugar
• 1/2 cup (105ml) water, with 1 Tbs. cornstarch or potato starch or arrowroot dissolved in it
• 1/8 cup (28 ml) soy sauce
• 1 Tbs. mirin
• 1/2 Tbs. rice vinegar
[While you’re grilling the dumplings, make the mitarashi sauce.] Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a small pan and bring to a boil. While stirring, cook until the sauce has thickened. The more it cools, the more viscous it will get. You can make the sauce in advance too. Pour the sauce over the still warm skewered dumplings. They are best eaten right away, but you can make them in advance too, as long as you bring them to room temperature before eating.