Friday, September 6, 2013

Homemade Yellow Rice Wine

Bottled Homemade Yellow Rice Wine
So this is apparently a lost art in the Western world (or it is starting to be?). Hubby LOVES Yellow Rice Wine chicken but specifically only his grandma's yellow rice wine. All other yellow rice wine pales in comparison cuz it's not strong enough. That's what everyone in his family says anyway. I don't like this stuff so I wouldn't know. It's too strong for me. In fact, I was supposed to drink this after giving birth to K but I said no thanks, so my grandma-in-law didn't make any for me. More for them? :P

The other day I learned to make this from her. It's pretty darn cool. It's not hard. But it's a pretty lengthy process. It takes 25 days for it to age, then another day to strain. Okay, so it's not that bad, but for a girl who loves things instantly, it's pretty darn long.

Hubby's grandma will usually make HUGE vats of this stuff. That's right. VATS. Plural. She uses two rice cookers all day to make this. It's crazy. This is my first time, so I only made a small batch to test it out. I'm sorry but you'll probably end up with extra "yeast mixture". You can always store the extra in an airtight container and use it again next time. That's what grandma does anyway and who am I to argue, right?

Grandma didn't give me any measurements. She only told me how to do it and showed me. Hence the pictures. She always just used a handful of the yeast mixture and sprinkled a light layer over the rice. She did mention that you don't really need the red yeast rice. It just gives it a reddish colour and makes it "sweeter". That being said, measurements don't really matter too much for it.

Homemade Yellow Rice Wine
(makes 1 L)

Yeast Layer
Figure 1
  • 6 (rice cooker) "cups" of sweet glutinous rice
  • Chinese yeast ball
  • 1-2 handful(s) red yeast rice
  • 2-3 Tbsps water, boiled and then cooled to room temperature

Rice topped with another yeast later
Figure 2
  1. Rinse the rice until water is clear. Add to the rice cooker's inner bowl. Fill water up until the "6" line. Cover and cook rice. (I used my instant pot's rice function.)
  2. In spice grinder, grind up the Chinese yeast ball into powder. Break up the ball into 2-4 pieces/batches, if necessary. Add the red yeast to the grinder and pulse until pieces are about the size of a sesame seed. Place yeast mixture in a bowl.
  3. When rice is cooked, lay rice on cookie sheets 1 inch thick to cool. Rice must be completely cooled before going onto the next step.
  4. In an 8 litre container (or multiple containers if you don't have a big one), sprinkle about a tablespoon of the yeast mixture on the bottom of the container (see figure 1). Layer one layer of the cooled rice onto the yeast mixture. Sprinkle another tablespoon of the yeast mixture on top of the rice (see figure 2). Repeat, ending with the yeast mixture on top. You should have about an inch of space from the top of the container, so use another one if you run out of space. 
  5. Sprinkle some cooled boiled water onto the top layer of the mixture in the container. Cover the container and store in a dark warm place (eg., boiler room) for 24 hours.
  6. After 24 hours, lift the lid up a bit so the mixture can release all the "warm air" coming from the fermentation process. Leave it like this for 3 days. (You can also lift off the lid completely and drape a clean tea towel to cover the container and to keep bugs out.)
  7. After the 3 days (you're onto day 4 of the process), cover the lid again and let it rest for the rest of the week.
  8. At the end of the first week (now day 8), use clean hands and "roll over" the rice mixture from top to bottom, bottom to top. (I ended up just mixing it because I couldn't do it properly. Oops!). Cover back up and leave untouched for the remaining 25 days.
  9. On day 26, line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth. Strain the wine out of the container and into a mixing bowl with a spout for easy pouring. Squeeze as much of the wine out as possible. Pour the wine into wine bottles, cork and label.
  10. The wine can keep for a couple of years in a cool dark space. Use to cook foods, or drink as is. The fermented rice can be eaten, used as a marinade, fertilizer, etc.

The wine turned out really strong but not as sweet as Grandma's, so she suggests that I use less of the yeast mixture, which is what I did for my second batch. It's still fermenting, so I won't know how much sweeter it'll be until at least a few days later. :)