My newest fermentation project comes to me via Lucky Peach Magazine, "The Art of Fermentation," and dire* need.
I've been making so many Asian dishes that call for rice wine, that I usually keep it on hand. But, after two weeks, yuk. It turnes to crap. Plus, I have been so disappointed in the quality (and -- obviously the shelf life) of rice cooking wine, that I've decided to make it myself.
When I say, "I decided," I must admit... I was persuaded by honeyed words and the concept of tasty hooch I could easily make at home.
I was seduced by Mark Bittman, writing about home-made rice wine in Lucky Peach Magazine.
Food-God-Bittman writes: "Every time I make it I'm amazed at the change. You start with absolutely plain solid rice, about as bland as food gets (at least to the nonconnoisseur) and end up with a liquid that hits most of the mouth's pleasure buttons: sweet, tart, savory, fruity, and boozy. And one sip keeps hitting and hitting."
How can anyone NOT make rice wine at home?
It has two ingredients; yeast and rice. Specifically, yeast balls and sweet, sticky rice.
What could be easier? Buy yeast balls, mix with cooked sticky rice, seal, wait.
Now, try shopping for the needful things. Try going to Fubon, (Asian supermarket), on a Saturday, to find a product you've never seen before, at a store specializing in all things non-Western.
Alas, (my friend) Jay Lake's mom and I couldn't even find gallon jugs of peanut oil, how is this round eye supposed to find yeast balls?
But, being the clever women that we are, we asked someone. We waylaid an employee and forced him to help us find the three things that eluded us that day. Pocky sticks (candy), peanut oil, and yeast balls.
Much supermarket fun/hilarity was had with Jay's mum, Sarah.
Home again with sticky rice and yeast balls.The Pocky and peanut oil stayed with Mr. Lake.
Easy peasy Parcheesi. Right?
Well, my warm spot (get your mind out of the gutter) is the only heat source for my little apartment. The gas radiator in the bedroom.
It's a handy spot for drying wet jeans and as a proofing area for yeast-raised doughs. Dough is placed atop Larousse Gastronomique (a two-inch culinary bible), atop two glass bricks.
I thought the elevation would be too chill for the embryonic rice wine so it went directly to the hot spot.
Too hot! I fried the rice. No Bueno!
(thinking aloud) Good thing I was fully dressed when I took this photograph. <ahem> to some people I know ... as my reflection is obvious in the mirror.
So, again I soaked the rice, pulverized the yeast ball, and started a batch of rice wine.
This batch rests on Larousse, not beside it.
If it works or if it doesn't, I'll write a follow-up.
Quote for the day by Delbert McClinton, (the song is I Had a Real Good Time ) "You learn a whole lot more about life from the things you're not supposed to do."
* dire? OK Maybe desire more than dire. But, it's my blog, and I'll over-dramatize as I see fit.