How To Ferment Rice? Today I am going to show you a very traditional dish called Jiuniang(sweet ferment rice), or sweet wine, rice wine, laozao. Different names from place to place in China, but all refer to the same thing.
It’s made from sticky rice and koji yeast(something contains yeast and bacteria, a liquor ferment)
First off, soak sticky rice in water.
In hot summer days soak for 3-4 hours, and 5-6 hours in cold days.
Soak them up until you can easily squeeze them with your finger tips.
Use a steam pot.
Bring a pot of water to boil, pour them in the pot, place a steam rack on top, line with a piece of gauze.
Make sure everything that will have contact with sticky rice is clean.
Strain sticky rice and spread them over the rack.
And then, make some dimples among sticky rice to help the steam go through so that heat will be distributed evenly in the pot.
Cover with lid, and steam over medium to high heat.
If you made a lot at a time as I did here, you can pause in the middle and give them a toss.
This allows the rice to get steamed evenly. A steaming process takes about 40 mins.
Make sure every piece of it is completely cooked inside out.
But not overcooked, it should still be a little springy to touch.
Transfer steamed sticky rice from the pot to a large bowl and allow them to cool.
Cover with a piece of dump towel to keep it moist, so that they won’t dry out.
Let them cool until they are lukewarm, and then we can work on koji yeast.
Put them in a clean bowl, add in some cold water.
Koji yeast is water-soluble, so they will soon be dissolved in water.
The sticky rice and water is in the proportion of 2(kg) to 1.2(L).
Now slowly add koji water little by little into sticky rice after rice cools down.
Rub and toss as koji water comes in. Keep your working hand very clean, or you can wear disposable gloves as I did.
Rub and toss gently, don’t break the rice grain.
Try to keep them in shape as a whole grain.
Follow the steps, slowly and gently mix them together.
If you feel there’s not enough water, you can add more in.
Pay attention to the consistency, and make adjustment if you need to.
Water in sticky rice may go lumpy, rub and separate them from each other, and try to keep them as a single rice grain.
So if you can see they separate from each other with no lumps, and there is no more water left in the bowl, stop tossing, it’s ready.
At this point the rice grain is still very sticky, but it’s in shape, not sticking around.
And they are blended well with koji yeast.
So now transfer the rice mixture in to a vessel with lid. It could be a glass jar, china vase or a stew pot like this.
As long as it is clean.
Level the surface with a spoon, do not press down.
Pierce a dimple in the middle of the rice mixture.
Cover with aluminum foil.
And then cover with lid.
Keep the pot away from air, but do not create a vacuum.
Place the pot of rice in a warm place to ferment.
30C/86F will be perfect for fermentation.
In hot summer days, avoid sun light, avoid extreme temperature, and store in a shady and cool place.
If you are doing this in cold winter days, you can place it in the oven.
Set the fermentation temperature to 30C/86F.
Watch and feel the temperature. Some oven may not have an exact and accurate thermometer, and the temperature is higher than normal. Try to keep the temperature no higher than 35C/95F.
You can turn it on for a while and then turn off. Or place it next to your radiator. Or over a hot water bottle, and wrap with your quilt.
Anyway, just let it stay in a warming place.
And ferment for about 36-48 hours.
Now you can see clear rice wine liquid in the dimple.
And sticky rice mixture becomes a whole piece floating over rice wine.
Give it a taste. At this stage, it should be very sweet with a little alcohol flavor, but not too much acidity. This means that it works.
If the rice wine is not very sweet, you may need more time, so let it ferment for another 12 hours.
While it reaches the sweetness peak, transfer them in the fridge, and do not let it stay at room temperature for any longer.
You can serve them right away after cooling in the fridge. Cold and sweet, what a treat!
Here I want to share with you a summer sweet ferment rice cocktail.
Combine sweet ferment rice and Rice wine together in a bowl, add two cups of soda or sparkling water.
Press sweet ferment rice grain to help it release flavor.
Squeeze in a little lemon juice.
Add a bit vodka if you like.
Ice cubes in the cup.
Strain the rice wine mixture, and add in.
Garnish with a lemon slice. And it’s done.
Or you can make sweet ferment rice with rice balls.
Let’s make little rice balls first.
Add in boiling water in sticky rice flour.
Flour and rice is in the proportion of 2:1.
Stir boiling water in.
And knead into a dough.
Boiling water softens sticky rice dough.
Roll out into a long dough.
Cut in the middle.
And cut in the middle.
Roll out again.
Fold in the middle.
Divide them into small pieces.
Flour them with a thin layer of sticky rice flour.
Shape them into little rice balls, and it’s done.
Set them aside.
Make a starch water.
Here I am using kudzu root starch.
You may substitute with lotus root starch or sticky rice flour.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, and add rice balls in.
Cook until they float up.
Pour in sweet ferment rice with liquid.
Cover with lid and keep cooking.
After it boils, sweet ferment rice lumps will be separated.
Then thicken the pot of water with kudzu root starch water.
Finish with sugared osmanthus or dried osmanthus flowers.
After it boils, sweet osmanthus ferment rice with rice balls is done.
Now I think everybody knows how to make Jiuniang, right?
It’s very versatile.
You can make either alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, make them with rice balls, or make boiled eggs with them, even make yogurt.
And steamed buns, too.
If fermentation continues under certain conditions, Jiuniang will eventually produce rice wine with a higher alcohol content.
I will tell you more about it later. So that will be all for today.
It’s very simple, but I know some of you have failed before, and I will list the reasons and help you to understand why.
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