• Time: Several days total


  • 2 cups sweet rice (aka sticky rice or glutinous rice)

  • 1 wine yeast ball, called qu (pronounced chu), jiuqu, or jiuyao (often written as chiuyao). These are little white balls about an inch in diameter and can be spotted in clear packages in Asian grocery stores.


To make fresh rice wine, rinse the rice and cook with 3 cups unsalted water. Spread the cooked rice out on a baking sheet or plastic cutting board and let it rest until it's cool enough to handle. Pulverize the yeast ball into a fine powder, sprinkle it over the warm rice, and toss to combine powder and rice evenly. Put the mix into an airtight container, and keep warm, about 100-110°F, in a very low oven or wrapped in a heating pad. After a couple of days wine will accumulate at the bottom of the container. Let the mix continue to ferment for another couple of days, or until you like the balance of flavors; then refrigerate.

Sprinkle rice wine over a bowl of fresh fruit, or freeze as is into a sorbet, or use as a marinade for steamed fish or chicken. For Chinese breakfast and dessert soups made with rice wine, see Fuchsia Dunlop's book on Sichuan cooking, Land of Plenty.