Sweet Fermented Rice (jiu niang 酒酿, nuo mi jiu 糯米酒, or jiang mi jiu 江米酒) is a traditional Chinese dessert that has been eaten for hundreds of years. It's made by steaming sticky rice, then fermenting it with lactic acid bacteria. The mixture is then left to ferment at room temperature for several days or until the desired taste and texture are reached.
Fermented rice products are popular in East Asian countries including China, Japan, and Korea. Sweet Fermented rice can be eaten as a snack on its own or used to make other foods such as sweet soups, desserts, and savory stir-fried dishes.
Glutinous rice: Also known as sticky rice. You can use either long-grain or short-grain sticky rice, they both taste sweet. I use short-grain sticky rice in this recipe, the texture of the short-grain rice is stickier to me, and I have always enjoyed it.
Rice wine starter: There are two common rice wine starters on the market, one is called "Shanghai yeast balls"(Chinese rice wine starter), and another one is called "Angel Rice Leaven, An qi", either one of them is efficient and always brings a good result. For the yeast balls, I put them into a zip-loc bag, and then use a rolling pin to crash them into yeast powder for future use.
Pre-boiled water: Boil and let cool to room temperature (or bottled purified water). Remember not to use tap water.
Glutinous rice balls: Chinese people love to add sticky rice balls to Sweet Fermented rice wine. The texture of the rice balls creates a unique flavor to this recipe.
Goji Berries: Optional.
How to Make Sweet Fermented Rice
Start by soaking the glutinous rice overnight. Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear and drains well. Lay a thin layer of glutinous rice, on a clean cotton cloth into a steamer and let it steam for 20-30 minutes or until it's fully cooked. Set it aside in a large bowl and let it cool off completely.
Use a rolling pin to grind the yeast balls to a fine powder. Slowly pour water into the powder and mix well. Add the yeast water into the cooled steamed glutinous rice and mix well with your hands until all ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the rice. Level out the steamed sweet rice mixture and create a crater in the center.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap tightly and put it in any place in the house that is warm. The whole fermentation process will take place in about 2-3 days, you should start to see the sweet liquid starting to come out from the crater in 24 hours. Take a clean spoon and taste a little bit, the liquid should taste like wine with a sweet flavor, and the texture is more like cooked porridge.
Transfer the bowl to the refrigerator immediately once the fermenting process is complete, that way you can stop any additional fermenting. That's it! Enjoy it within one month!
Here is a quick method to make your glutinous rice balls at home. Mix some glutinous rice with water and knead it into a dough. Divide it into small balls and set them aside. You can boil them for four to five minutes and serve them with this sweet fermented rice wine. You can even be creative, and add some stuffing inside the sticky rice balls, such as red bean paste, or sesame paste for some extra flavor.
Fermentation is a process that allows bacteria to convert sugar into acid. The ideal temperature for the fermentation of sweet fermented rice is between 68-80F. It should be kept in a warm place for the first 3 days. The right temperature will decide how successfully the fermented glutinous rice turns out.
Fermented foods tend to taste sour because the bacteria produce lactic acid as they break down the sugar in them. Sweet fermented rice is no exception; it produces lactic acid during its fermentation process, which gives it its distinctive sour taste and it also tastes sweet.
Is Sweet Fermented Rice Good For You?
The health benefits of this product are numerous. Like much other fermented food, it's rich in digestive enzymes that help your body break down food more easily. It contains no fat or cholesterol, and it is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It's a trending drink for new mothers to recover their strength. It also contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals that contribute to aging. This product can be used as a healthy alternative to other high-sugar snacks such as candy bars or cookies because of its low-sugar nature.
In addition to its use in food, sweet fermented rice can also be used as a laxative that acts as a yogurt function or as a benefit for blood circulation.
The sweet fermented rice wine will taste the best on the first day. It lasts in the refrigerator for about 1 month in a glass jar or any air-tight container. I recommend doubling the recipe, so you have some leftovers!
This traditional Chinese rice wine is a comfort food with a nice fragrance and low alcohol content. It is suitable for all ages. Give it a try and you will love it! Let me know how yours turns out by leaving a comment below. Happy cooking!
Sweet Fermented Rice (Jiu Niang)
- 2 cups short-grain glutinous rice
- 1 and ½ cups warm water room temperature
- 4 grams Chinese distiller's yeast starter
- glutinous rice flour to make sticky rice balls, optional
- Soak the glutinous rice overnight. Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear and drains well.
- Lay a thin layer of glutinous rice liner with cotton cloth into a steamer and let it steam for 20-30 minutes or until it's fully cooked. Set it aside in a large bowl and let it cool off completely.
- Use a rolling pin to grind the yeast ball to a fine powder. Slowly pour water into the powder and mix well.
- Add the yeast water into the cooled steamed glutinous rice, and mix well with your hands until all ingredients are distributed evenly throughout the rice.
- Level out the sticky rice mixture and create a crater in the center.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap tightly and put it in any place in the house where is warm. The fermentation process will take place in about 2-3 days, you should start to see the sweet liquid starting to come out from the crater in 24 hours. The whole fermented process takes about 2 and half days.
- Transfer the bowl or a jar container to the refrigerator immediately once the fermenting process is complete, that way you can stop any additional fermented. Take a clean spoon and taste a little bit, the liquid should be expected to taste like sweet wine, and the texture is more like cooked porridge.
- Enjoy it within one month.