So I was brainstorming different rainbow desserts for Pride this year, and I literally came up with the idea to do these when I was walking through my local Japanese grocery store(which I frequent a lot these days), and stumbled upon Fugetsu-Do‘s rainbow dango, also called suama. For those unfamiliar, Fugetsu-Do is a highly popular Japanese mochi store located in Little Tokyo in Los Angeles. It has been in business for over 110 years, and has some of the BEST mochi I have ever had. Their mochi is so popular that they actually sell it to Japanese grocery stores all over my area. Their signature item is their rainbow dango/suama, which is a super soft white mochi that is surrounded with stripes of different colored mochi. Usually, suama would be just a white mochi surrounded by a pink mochi. Fugetsu-Do’s features pink, orange, green, and yellow mochi that surround the white center. While I love their product, I wanted to try making my own suama, using all seven colors of the rainbow instead, in honor of pride.
For the mochi itself, I had to experiment a lot with different kinds of mochi flour. There is standard mochiko, or sweet rice flour, but I found that it had no stability to it and the cooked mochi would often start drooping and spreading when I tried to work with it. Shiratamako, which is a different kind of glutinous rice flour, resulted in mochi with a similar texture to Fugetsu-Do’s in terms of the softness and chewiness, but it had the same stability issues that mochiko did. Both mochiko and shiratamako are glutinous rice flours, though mochiko is finely milled whereas shiratamko are these dried rice crystals that need to be rehydrated. Since the latter at least had a similar texture, I went with shiratamako, but you can sub it out with the mochiko if you cannot find it anywhere. However, to help with the stability, I had to introduce another rice flour. Joshinko, which is non-glutinous rice flour, was literally sitting on the shelf next to the shiratamako in my grocery store. I tested making mochi with just the joshinko, and it came out really dense. Which was perfect, because it was my answer to the stability issue – and it totally was! I did an 8:7 gram ratio of the shiratamako to joshinko, and it wound up working really well! The end result was soft and chewy, but still stable enough to knead and shape without much spreading!
For other notes, I did use natural powders to color my dough with. You can also use food coloring if that’s easier, but I included the full list of what I used to dye my mochi with – in total, five powders, including acai powder for purple and indigo, butterfly pea for blue and indigo, spirulina for green, turmeric for yellow and orange, and beet for red and orange. Since not everyone has my naturally colored hipster powders readily available, using gel food colorings work just as well! I just wanted to include the options, since I personally like not feeling as if I just consumed a lot of food coloring, though a lot more people tend not to mind it as much as I do apparently.
Makes about 16 to 24 dango:
80g or 3/4 cups shiratamako
70g or 1/3 cup joshinko
125g or 3/4 cups sugar
2/3 cups hot water
Mix the first four ingredients and steam in two bowls for 15-20 minutes. Take the first bowl and place onto a wetted cutting board. Divide into 8 pieces, and dye each of them a different color, leaving one white. If the mochi begins to stick to your hands, dip your hands in water – the moisture will keep the dough in one place. Lay out the pieces in rows and place the other bowl of steamed mochi onto it. Wrap the white mochi with the other colors and roll out on a potato starch-lined surface, cutting into small pieces to serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
For the colors, I measured out the following:
Purple – 2g açaí powder
Indigo – 1g açaí powder + 1g butterfly pea powder
Blue – 2g butterfly pea powder
Green – 2g spirulina powder
Yellow – 1g turmeric powder
Orange – 1g turmeric powder + 1g beet powder
Red – 1g beet powder
You can also just use gel food coloring too!