Homemade fermented rice

Rice wine soup has always been a chinese dessert I enjoy for as long as I can remember. I think the biggest appeal for me was that it is usually served with sticky rice balls, which I love. I remember a long time ago, I asked my mom how to make the fermented rice used in rice wine soup. My mom said it was complicated and we would leave it to my grandma, who made it often.

When I went off to college and I wanted to make rice wine soup, I would just buy the premade fermented rice sold at Ranch 99.


Then a few months ago, my mom excitedly told me that she now had a method to make fermented rice in just three days and it was really easy to make. So she showed me the next time I was home. It was really simple, though it's taken me a while to do this post. While it takes three days, there isn't much you need to do, other than wait.

And the fermented rice tastes a lot better than the ones I've bought in store. Usually I add a lot of sugar to the ones in the store, or else the alcoholic rice wine is just too strong and not enjoyable to me. But the homemade one is much sweeter. I can eat it by the spoonful without needing to add sugar. My mom has been adding the fermented rice to everything: stir fried shrimp, fish dishes, etc.

Fermented Rice

2 cups Sweet rice
1/4 of a yeast ball

1. Cook two cups of sweet rice. I use a rice cooker. Cook it how you normally would cook rice. I usually put my rice in the rice cooker and then fill the water up to the level 2 line for two cups of rice.

2. Let the rice cool until it is still slightly warm, but no longer hot. (If your rice is still hot, it will kill the yeast). Put the rice in a large glass or ceramic bowl.

3. Take yeast ball, and break into four equal pieces. Take one of the pieces and smash until it is a powder.

4. Mix the powder with the rice, using a large spoon.

5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in a cool, dark place.

6. Over the next three days, check once a day. You will see liquid begin to form with the rice. Stir and mix each time you check on the rice. After the third day, there should be quite a bit of liquid. At this point, it is ready to eat. Store remains in the fridge. The alcohol taste will be pretty light in the beginning, but will grow stronger the longer the fermented rice stays in the fridge.

Day 1

Day 2

I forgot to take a picture of Day 3, but it was similar to Day 2. You can eat the fermented rice by itself, add it in dishes you are cooking like fish, shrimp, etc. Or you can make rice wine soup, by putting some fermented rice in a pot of water, adding some sugar, adding some sticky rice balls, and an egg.  You can view details for rice wine soup here.

4 comments on “Homemade fermented rice”

  1. Looks delicious! I’ve always wanted to try rice wine soup, but none of them carry fermented rice, so this should help me a lot!
    My only question is exactly what kind of yeast to use. I’ve never seen that kind of yeast in the little balls in my local grocery store, and I’ve heard someone say it was distillers yeast. Advice?

    • I’ve only been able to find the yeast balls in chinese grocery stores. It’s pretty common to find them there since a lot of chinese families make their own fermented rice soup. I know it is definitely different from regular yeast, but I don’t know where else you can look for it. If you have a chinese grocery store near you, I suggest you check there. Perhaps you can even show an employee a picture of one.

  2. Thank you for posting this! I’ve always loved this soup as a child, and now my chinese dr. recommends I drink this for my health. Do you know how long it lasts in the refrigerator, once it is made? Like a week, or a few weeks? You mention the alcohol taste gets stronger when it is in the fridge longer..is that just a matter of taste or is it going bad? I am big on food safety and was just wondering.

    • The alcohol taste gets stronger because it continues to ferment even in the fridge. However it doesn’t mean it is going bad. I’ve made big batches and left it in the fridge for a few weeks with no problem.

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