Lao chao is a Chinese fermented rice made from sticky rice. The rice is steamed, cooled, made into small cakes with a starter that includes the mold Aspergillus oryzae and yeasts, and held at room temperature for two to three days until it becomes soft, sweet, and tart, with a fruity and alcoholic aroma.
From the book On Food and Cooking (2nd edition) by Harold McGee. © 2004 Harold McGee. By permission of Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.