Homemade fermented rice

a spoonful of rice wine soup with 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.

a close-up photo of a spoonful of rice wine soup with fermented rice

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.

a scoop of rice wine soup made with homemade fermented rice in a white spoon

And the fermented rice tastes a lot better than the ones I’ve bought in the 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.

 

How to Make Fermented Rice

process photo showing a package of sweet rice

a process showing a package of yeast ballsa process photo showing the information printed on a package of yeast balls

Fermented rice is easy to make, but it needs three days to ferment and you only need two ingredients: sweet rice and a yeast ball.

process photo showing what the rice looks like after the first five steps

Step 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.

Step 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. The photo below shows what your rice will look like on the first day.

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

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

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

process photo showing what the rice looks like on day two once its released so liquid

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 the leftovers 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.

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 to 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.

close-up of fermented rice with tapioca balls

Fermented Rice

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Servings: 8 servings
Fermented rice is the base of one of my favorite dishes, rice wine soup, and for a long time I would buy it premade and it was never quite the same as what I ate growing up. My mom figured out an easy way to make it and now I can make my own whenever I want. The process takes three days, but it's mostly hands-off time as the rice ferments and it requires only a couple stirs each day. Use it to make my favorite rice wine soup or add it to fish or shrimp dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sweet rice
  • Yeast ball broken into four pieces

Directions:

  1. Prepare the sweet rice using either a rice cooker or on the stovetop. Cool the hot rice (so it doesn't kill the yeast) to room temperature and transfer it to a large glass or ceramic bowl.
  2. Smash one piece of the yeast ball (you won't use the other 3 pieces) into a powder. Add the yeast powder to the rice and stir to combine. Cover the rice with plastic wrap and keep it in a cool, dark place for three days.
  3. Check the rice once a day as it ferments. You will notice liquid accumulating in the rice, so give the rice a stir each time you check on it. After three days there will be a lot of liquid, which means the rice is ready to eat. At this point, you can serve the rice and keep the leftovers in the refrigerator. The rice will continue to ferment as it sits in the refrigerator which will give it an even stronger flavor.
All images and content are © Kirbie's Cravings.

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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