Mochiko flour is flour made from mochi rice, sticky and glutinous rice that is popular in many Asian countries. Typically, the mochi rice used to make this flour has a high starch content with no complex carbohydrates because the rice has been milled into white rice first. Since mochiko flour is starchy, but really doesn’t contain gluten, it can be a good flour substitute for people who have gluten allergies.
In Asia, this flour may be used in a number of baked goods, and it's often used to make varied types of rice noodles. It can also be added to sauces to thicken them, and it may be an emulsifying agent in commercially prepared foods, since it won’t allow foods to separate if they’re frozen or when they’re heated. The flour, like mochi rice, has a notably sweet taste, which often means if you use it in baked goods you can cut down on sugar needed in the recipe.
Because mochiko flour does not contain gluten, it can’t be used successfully in yeast raised breads. You can substitute about a third to a half mochiko flour in recipes that call for wheat flour. Generally the more you use, the lower rise your bread will have. You can use the flour in other baked goods leavened by baking powder or soda. Consider the possibility of muffins, pancakes, waffles, or cookies made with mochiko flour. These often taste lighter and more delicate than the same recipes when wheat flour is used. Many people suggest that mochiko flour provides the perfect coating for fried chicken or fish too.
Sweet rice flour can be delicious, but it doesn’t necessarily pack the nutritional punch needed to make it the flour of choice at all times. Especially since the milling process for mochi rice removes the bran and germ, the flour is high in simple carbohydrates, and lacking in many nutrients. Alternatives to mochiko that are a little more nutritionally sound include brown rice flour, which will give you the complex carbohydrates that mochiko lacks.
You can find sweet rice flour at most Asian grocery stores, and if you’re having difficulty locating it, there are a number of online stores, including Amazon, that stock the product. Note that many places also sell rice flour. If the package isn’t labeled as mochiko or sweet rice flour you’re probably getting flour of another rice variant. You might additionally look for the product sold in packages or in bulk at well-stocked natural foods stores. Both organic and non-organic versions exist.