Homemade fermented wine rice adds an intoxicating richness to spicy foods that’s both sweet and winy at the same time. Made ahead, it keeps refrigerated for months, ready to be added to finish a dish, much as a French chef might add a splash of Cognac. We use it in the following recipe with shrimp, but it is also delicious with stir-fried crabs. It can also be served by itself as a sweet, porridgelike dessert, perhaps with poached pears.
It is made from wine balls, which are available in Chinese groceries. The balls are crushed with flour and combined with glutinous rice that has been previously soaked and steamed. Make sure the rice is not too hot, or the mixture will ferment too fast—but not too cold, or the wine balls won’t react. Allow at least 24 hours to make fermented wine rice. Add some already made fermented wine rice to a new batch to give it an extra kick. This recipe makes about 1 quart.
© 1981 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.