Chinese rice wine is a vital ingredient in Chinese cooking. Most of us are used to grape wine, but this version of wine is from glutinous rice. Yeast is added to turn the sugars into alcohol in a natural fermentation process. The Chinese will call it the Shaoxing jiuniang wine, but the most common name is Hunagjiu. or call it Mijiu. The name Shaoxing is derived from the city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang province, which is famous for rice wine production.
As we have mentioned above, Chinese rice wine is a cooking ingredient made from glutinous rice. The main fermenting ingredient is the yeast that changes sugar to alcohol. The result is a fermented, sweet product that is used in marinades. The clear wine starts as starch, then sugar, and finally alcohol. Some people use it solely for cooking while others do not mind downing a glass.
What is Chinese rice wine made of?
Starch in rice is the basic ingredient of this wine. The Chinese use sticky rice to make this wine by adding yeast. The starch is converted to sugar and then turned into alcoholic wine. Glutinous rice is a type of rice that grows mainly in Asia. It has opaque grains and low amylose, and the sticky feature shows up when it’s cooked. Some people think that it’s called glutinous because it has gluten.
The only reason it has this name is due to its stickiness. This rice has no gluten. This rice has been grown in China for over 2000 years and makes staple food for the Chinese. Yeast contains enzymes invertase and maltase that break down starch into sugar and then into alcohol.
What is Chinese rice wine used for?
The main use of rice wine in Chinese culture is cooking. The rice is used as a tenderizer for meat and as a marinade. The marinade is useful in seafood as a tenderizer. You will also find rice wine as the main base in herbal soup. Apart from marinating, it is used for flavor addition to a finished dish. This is similar to how grape wine is used in meat and other food items to add a tangy feel. In Chinese culture, new mothers are advised to take rice wine herbal soup to aid their recovery process. There are drinking varieties that are consumed directly. However, their alcohol content is significantly lower than the western wine types.
How to drink Chinese rice wine
If you thought that all you need is to grab a glass of wine and drink the Chinese rice wine, you need to keep reading. This wine is served in small clay urns that are tightly sealed at the top with red cloth and glued with its waxy skin. The merry-makers are presented with small porcelain bowls and poured the wine. The drink can be served cold. The best way is to pour it over ice and enjoy it in summer. However, the alcohol content will be significantly lower than normal fruit wine.
How long does Chinese rice wine last?
Chinese rice wine can last up to six months when stored properly. The first step in storage is to have an airtight container. Pour your wine into it and seal. Look for a cool, dark place in the pantry and store. The rice wine can last for longer if refrigerated. However, this storage method is best for those who do not use it frequently. Like the fruit wine, the older the wine gets, the sweeter it gets and enriches the flavors in your food. If you buy a bottle from commercial stores, you will not need to refrigerate it after opening, and it still lasts for ages.
How to make Chinese rice wine at home
Chinese rice wine is easily found on Asian markets, but rare in other parts of the world. If you wish to have a taste of this cooking magic and can’t find some at your local grocery, you can make it at home, and you don’t need much expertise. You will need 24 ounces of glutinous rice, a wine yeast ball (Qu, or jiuqu), and water.
Rinse your rice in a bowl until the water turns clear. Soak the rice with clean water for one hour. Use a strainer to rid the rice of water. Use sticky rice for the best results and flavor. In a steamer, boil a cup of water at the bottom. You can also use medium-sized pots if you do not have a steamer.
Place the rice in the top compartment and steam for 25 minutes. Alternatively, take a rice sieve and place it with the rice at the top of your pot, and cover for the same period. Ensure that the rice is not hard in all parts and remove it from the fire. Cool the rise by spreading it on a cooking sheet.
Crush the yeast ball until it turns into a fine powder. Combine the yeast and rice and integrate it using your hands. The rice should be slightly warmer than room temperature. Place your mixture in an airtight container or multiple containers.
Ensure that you keep your rice warm in the first few days such as oven at 100F. Taste the wine after a few days and let it continue to ferment for a month. You do not need to keep it in the oven for a month. As long as the temperatures are warm, you can store it at any place in your house. After a month, take a cheesecloth and strain the rice mixture into a jar. It is now ready for use.
China is known for its rich food and ingredients. The Chinese rice wine is a great treat for your dishes. When making a purchase, don’t confuse the Chinese rice wine with the Chinese rice vinegar. The beauty of this wine is that it can be drunk while hot or cold.
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