Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chinese Rice Wine Recipes I

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The best rice wine ever (very very very sweet, no tartness at all, and full of rice wine flavor), from my mom's neighbor's granddaughter-in-law's mom. I bought 2 dozen bottles, RM6.50/US$2 each. Next brew I'm told, will be RM7 each. Worth every cent.

Ever made rice wine? I have, a few years back, and it was a total disaster. Based on a friend's written instructions, I brewed my own wine and waited eagerly for 30 days for my rice to turn into wine. When it was time to 'harvest' the wine, Hub and I, like a pair of expectant parents, had no idea what to do. We spent a whole Saturday afternoon pressing down on the fermented rice with our soup ladles, scooping the wine out and funneling it into bottles. After 3 hours, we had 4 precious bottles of pretty good (meaning sweet) but cloudy wine, although we could've gotten 5 bottles if we didn't spill. It was truly laborious. Three, four days later all the wine went sour and had to be thrown away, and that ended my moonshining days. Those who still aren't deterred can follow Rei or Nee's excellent wine-making instructions, both of whom are experts at making red rice wine, a Fuzhou/Foochow specialty.

Chinese yellow rice wine (the more common type) is usually home-brewed for mothers who have just had their babies. The lucky mothers have MILs or their own mothers to brew the wine for them while others have to buy them from the market or friends of friends who make the wine. The sweeter the wine, the better. The wine is cooked with chicken, or eggs or even pig liver, with lots of ginger to keep the mom warm. Not all Chinese new mothers drink rice wine during confinement. I think it is more a Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese practice because if you ask the China Chinese, they will be as blank about it as Mrs.Jones. Or maybe it is still practised in southern Chinese villages, I'm not sure. Whatever, rice wine is drunk to strengthen the new mother (and keep the baby stoned through breast-feeding?!) for a whole month, a period called 'confinement' which literally means the woman is confined to her house and in some cases, to her room for a whole month! During that month, the new mom is not to wash her hair for fear of weakening/cooling her body, can you believe it?! I once went to see a friend a couple of weeks into her confinement, and I will never ever forget the stench when I stepped into her room. Every window was closed, there was no air-con and the fan was banned. I nearly collapsed withholding my breath and grinning at the same time. Advice: visit new mothers early before they become 'odorous'!

I never went fully with those confinement practices and my first and only confinement lady (those busy-bodies who charge you an arm to supervise your maid and you) and I clashed over traditional practices and my 'modern' ways. She made my confinement utterly miserable (yes, I did have the blues. Out of the clinic and back at home, on the 4th day, I wept as I breast-fed Yi, shocked with the sudden realisation that I was a mother) because she wouldn't let me eat veg and fruits and feed me and Hub rice wine chicken two times a day until both of us were...you know, the condition where prunes prove useful? My advice is: get rid of those domineering confinement ladies, have your MIL come over (if you are on talking terms) or better still, emotionally black-mail your own mother to come over, eat properly and do wash your hair as usual but dry it quickly, and most of all, keep warm, especially your feet. Never lift heavy objects too. Where was I?

Okay, so one month after the baby's arrival, a big celebration called 'Full Month' (mistakenly called 'Full Moon' most of the time) will be held and guess what's the piece de resistance? Yes, rice wine chicken, one of my fav dishes. The strangest thing about this dish is that it tastes better if it was cooked for a woman who really had just given birth. I think it's because those ladies are so pampered they get the best kampung/village chickens. And if there's one dish restaurants don't cook as well as home, it is rice wine chicken. Doesn't it disappoint you whenever you get invited to Full Month dinners and the catered rice wine chicken tastes like chicken oil soup? Anyway, that's what I think so I'm always happy when new mothers invite me over to eat their rice wine chicken. Now that most of my friends are...ehem, not exactly in a productive age, I don't get to eat 'real' rice wine chicken. So what do I do about that? Cook my own rice wine chicken of course, with wine from my mom's neighbor's granddaughter-in-law's mother who makes the sweetest rice wine I have ever tasted. (Su-en, I'm told you read this blog, so please tell W that I have several bottles waiting for her. Am making some special zhongzi too for her. And Don is to tell K too, thank you.)

The Chinese believe that certain food will give strength and heat and rice wine chicken is one of those dishes. There' s the wine that runs your blood, the chicken that nourishes and the ginger that keeps you warm. My mom used to cook rice wine eggs for me and my sis and sometimes rice wine pig liver and kidneys. It made me feel so special because it was specially for me, once a month.

I will be giving 3 recipes using rice wine. These are for all those preggies, especially AF who just started reading my blog and for my younger brother Clive's wife Lena who unexpectantly is expecting in December after more than 8 years of marriage. I am going to have another nephew/niece! I have a strong feeling it's a nephew although personally, well, never mind, boys are okay too.

First, we start with rice wine egg. I have never cooked this before until today and gosh, this is so delicious that I forgot to take a photo before I poured the whole thing into my stomach!

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1. Heat up a wok or small pot, add 2 t sesame oil and two or more knobs of ginger, smashed lightly. Fry until the ginger is slightly browned. Crack in an egg (or two).

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2. Turn the egg over when the edge is set.

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3. Using the sharp corner of your frying ladle, break and roughly scramble the egg, but not too much. Let it fry a couple more seconds, but not too long because the yolk should be half cooked only.

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4. Pour in 1 cup of good yellow rice wine, let it boil for 20 counts (add a pinch of salt if like) and dish out. Not very impressive looking but believe me, this is heavenly. The incredible sweetness and the flavor just combine into an intoxicatingly delicious soup.
Next...Chinese rice wine Part II

33 comments:

ekeng said...

I love the smell of chinese rice wine..i love to eat "Huang Jiu Ji" too..hehehe..My mom love to eat chinese rice wine egg..

irene-serenity said...

OMG! i've been attacked by rice wine recipes the past 2 days aftr readg terri & droolteam bt i've to control my urge as i'm still recuperating frm a stubborn cough whch started during pesta kaamatan.
bt nice 2 remember tt during my 1 n only confinement, i was lucky 2 hv MIL home-brewed rice wine 4 me :)
i luv rice wine cooked with c'ken, eggs or prawns! few mths back a relative cooked it with c'ken & added in hard boiled eggs (the shells removed)with lots of ginger & very yummy !

Emily.T said...

Hi! thanks for sharing the recipe! I've always crave for confinement food like the "Rice wine Chicken (Kai jou)" and "Braised pork leg in vinegar (Chu geok chou)"... that's the only thing I will look forward to when I'm one of the "preggies"... hahaha...oh, by the way, I'm not even married yet! LOL...

Love your blog! Thanks again!

NEE said...

ooohhh i love anything with chinese wine inside...i m salivating in front of comp now.

you forgot mentioned also ladies with menses can take these sort of food so that our uterus can be more cleaned. esp teenagers with tummyache prob during the time. my mum used to do these sort of food for me when i was one. of course, this is a perfect excuse for non preggies to dig in heheehee..

Precious Pea said...

Lucky me. I always have plenty supply of Chinese rice wine from MIL. My hubby cooks really good chicken wine too. And..haha..thanks for the tips *the one about visiting new-mums before they turn odourous!*

Anonymous said...

muffinman: am in my 21st week and looking forward for the rice wine chicken. does your supplier sell any? how do i get one to taste? they say for confinement, its best if the wine has been boiled during the process of making it. looking for confinement lady, but after reading your blog, maybe i've to emotionally get my mom to look after me.

Frequent Reader said...

Oh my god huang jiu and egg. My mom's version is the soupy dessert version. Got it from my grandparents from ning buo. Erm, simmer some ginger in the wine dilluted with some water (be sure to leave the rice "jiu niang" in if present)and at the very end crack an egg into it and stir. Some people add sugar but that's not neccessary if the wine is sweet enough. Other condiments include mini glutinous rice balls. hahahah... winter winter...

Haven't had huang jiu chicken in a very long time. However my mom likes eating huang jiu ji, she insists that its too high in calories. She'll only cook it when there's a craving and when there's good huang jiu. hee.. I can almost smell your huang jiu egg from my screen.......*waft waft....

In taiwan, ladies are force fed sesame oil chicken (ma you ji) and vinegared pork during the confinement period. Sesame chicken is synonymous with the confinement period. Some ladies eventually develope a phobia from the sesame oil overload. Like my aunt. Its a very simple recipe really. ^^ .

Maybe you might want to try it out. ^^ . Tastes all warm and gingery, reminds me of winter. Its a winter staple actually.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

Rice wine chicken's yummy - I half wish that I could get pregnant (in one of my totally insane moments) just to get a daily supply of the stuff! I haven't tried chinese rice wine egg - shall try it one of these days. I love your explanation about rice wine during confinement and getting a baby stoned. :-D

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

ekeng: is tt u, or ur bro's photo? good to see u back in action. update ur blog man!

irene: i haven't yet met a person who doesn't like wine chicken. one of my friends, a full-blooded spaniard, loves it too. hope ur cough is gone by now :)

emily: tt's great, bookmark these recipes for future :0, n keep on loving this blog ok!btw, i have THE BEST pork leg in sweet vinegar recipe, look it up.

pp: hey, can u get ur hubby to cook wine chicken so u can give us his recipe. i'm sure i can learn frm him.oh, when the time comes n u need more tips on confinement, just call me...

muffinman: muffinman is pregnant?! sure u not pulling me leg ah? but hey, congrats, halfway there. first babe? make sure u don't put on too much weight. i went frm 50kg to 69 kg for my 1si n 2nd baboes, n have stretch marks everywhere. i thot i shd eat for two, eating bananas by the comb, baos by the half dozen, u'd puke if u saw me eat. about confinemt ladies, if u get a good well-educated one it can be a blessing. mine was highly recommended but she was very traditional, n i caught her feeding my pure, newborn chinese herbs for no reason! for my 2nd n 3rd, i had my MIL and my maid, n i was much happier. keep well, n keep in touch!

frequent reader: hey, tt's what my FIL talks about eating once in a while, "jiu niang". i've eaten it b4 once when MIL's friend gave her some--very refreshing, yumz! do u have the recipe 4 sesame chicken? i think it's always good to 'boo' ur body once a month, after, u now. remember tt esp since u r away frm home :)

lyrical lemon: u know, confinement period is really special. u get pampered by ur hub, the inlaws, ur family, everybody. plus of cos as u pointed out, u get to eat wine chicken. but u know, after one month, the 'novelty' is over n u have this brawling brat in ur arms n no chicken wine. i say if u rn't ready, just cook the dish n enjoy. on the other hand, maybe its good to go insane n have the baby (n the wine). i did n i survived, with white hairs n dark eye circles.

Precious Pea said...

Ok..i will take down his recipe when he cook this dish again.

Greg Wee said...

Hi Terri. There's something good about having the spirit of being self-sufficient housewives & embarking on moonshine projects that both you & Nee share. But sometimes it's a bit scary to think that you'll find a chicken farm, cows & an alchohol processing plant at the back of the house. We husbands feel your love.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

pp: promise me

gregwee: i'm trying to figure out if tt last sentence is a sarcastic-funny or funny-sarcastic comment?!coming frm greg, it has to be sarcastic-funny!

emily.T said...

Yup, I'm writing down your recipes for future use (especially your pork leg in sweet vinegar, how can i miss that?!) hahaha...I can't thank you enough for sharing the recipe! This blog will definitely be in my top favourite list! ^^

Last weekend, I asked this aunty selling home-reared chicken in the market if she know anyone selling rice wine, she said yes but have to order in advance...guess what? It's going to cost RM14/bottle!! Is it day-light robbery? I really don't know...I live in Kepong by the way...is it a common price here? well, i doubt it...so I'm looking for other sources... Arrghh, can't wait to try your recipes! :P

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

emily: RM14 a bottle! tt's day n night robbery bc here it's RM6.50 in most places altho mom's neighbor said next brew will cost RM7. thanks for 'favoriting' my blog! muah!

EleeNY said...

Great recipes. Yummmm!

Does anyone know where to find Chinese rice wine that's unseasoned, meaning it has no added salt?

I've been looking in many grocery stores in Queens, NY, but they ALL have 1.5% salt content. I know in Los Angeles my mom can buy the unsalted version in the Chinese groceries there. I will even order online if anyone know where to order. (I'm scheduled to deliver in 1 month, so I'm getting prepared for my "post-partum" month with Mom flying over to cook for me!)

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

eleeny: hi, welcome!i get more US readers than any other (strange...did u get here thru google search?) n i love it when i get comments frm anyone.

our rice wine here r all salt-free. have u tried to ask the asian grocers? hey, congrats, is this no 1? nothing like having ur own mom to fuss over u, so appreciate her pls. n rember not to carry anything heavy--ur womb has been extended for 10 months n need time to grow back into place again. n DO NOT to wash with cold water, even if just washing hands. u'll get rheumatism early if u do.n i mean this: enjoy every minute of the birthing experience (good to write it down so ur child can read it; they love to listen to stories about their own early development) bc really it is a very special experience :)))*hugs*

EleeNY said...

Hi Terri,

I searched for rice wine and found your awesome blog. Can't wait to try some of your recipes!

Thanks for your good advice. This is my second baby - a girl who's caused me to stay on bed rest for over 3 months already. When I had my son 2.5 yrs ago, my mom was able to bring a few bottles of unseasoned rice wine from California for my post-partum nutrition. However, now no one's allowed to fly with liquids anymore.

I wonder if it has something to do with NY State liquor laws, that wines sold in grocery stores must be salted to prevent alcoholics from chugging them down??? The local liquors stores haven't been helpful either; most have Japanese sake, but no one seems to carry Chinese rice wine of any kind.

Anonymous said...

I love chinese rice wine and I consumed bottles and bottles of them on confinement. I would like to try making some. Do you have good recipe to share??

Brussels.

Jackie Chang said...

It's so great to see people that love Chinese Rice Wine(Huang Jiu, Shaoxing Wine, Yellow Wine) as much as I do. We couldn't find any drinking-quality Chinese Rice Wine in our state (Oregon) so we began importing it ourselves. You can buy it at our website:
ChineseRiceWine.com. I strongly recommend not using the nasty stuff at most grocery stores as they are filled with salt (as much as 15%!), and use wine that has been matured less than 1 year. This is straight from Shaoxing...the Napa Valley of Asia!

Jiggly said...

I just tried this chinese rice wine recipe and i thought it was really good. so i'll share it.

Battered fish filet w/ rice wine

1)all purpose flour, chinese rice wine, some eggs, sugar, salt, ground pepper, chopped green onions. add them all in a bowl and then mix them up until it has a thickness similar to that of melted chocolate. i don't do measurement. i usually just taste the batter to make sure that it's fitting to my taste. but it's always better to start with just a little bit of sugar and salt. if it's not salty enough, you can always add more.

2)add fish filet. i prefer either flounder or tilapia. but you can basically use the batter for shrimp/chicken.

3)deep fry the fish til golden brown.

it's a really good appetizer just by itself. but to make it a main entree..i usually make a specific ginger sauce to go with it.

SarahO-GUY20 said...

Hello, I was just stopping by and wanted to say I really enjoyed this post. I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer from the States serving in Guyana, South America and one of the local beverages made here is rice wine. I've had saki before, but this isn't really like that - it's not clear, and it's varying degrees of sweet and dry. I became intrigued and eventually tried it out myself, using a plastic bucket, raw rice, sugar and water. The results have been inconsistent, but enjoyable and I came online to learn more about the fermentation process.

It was very enjoyable to read your post; I loved hearing about different traditions in relation to rice wine - and the idea of cooking with it is even more exciting! Happy drinking, happy cooking!

Alberto said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lylian said...

I make Huang Jiu and read about how the bloggers wine went sour after harvesting.

Because the freshly harvested wine contains live bacteria, it's best if you boil the wine to kill off the bacteria. Of course, it thickens the starches in the wine from the rice but I find that it does NOT affect the taste.

I suppose it is possible to pasteurize the newly harvested wine instead but as I don't have a suitable thermometer to measure the temperature exactly, I find it easier to just bring the wine to boiling point.

After boiling, I store in the wine in the fridge. It has kept for months.

One other tip, keep stirring the wine and controlling the temperature while boiling. If the fire is too high at boiling point the wine might suddenly boil over.

I do NOT add salt to my wine.

terri@adailyobsession said...

lylian: thank you for the info. i still haven't mustered the guts to make rice wine again, so i take my hat off to you for making it regularly!

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri, I enjoy reading your blog about chinese rice wine, and I'm staying in KL and not sure if it's possible to buy a few bottles from you.. Thanks

AKS said...

Reminds me of when my aunt's housekeeper cooked rice wine egg when I was a little girl. Only time I've ever had it but it was still memorable. I'll have to give this one a shot. Thanks.

Ciss said...

I wanna try this. I love rice wine but never had egg with it. Thanks!

Stef's Realm of Dream said...

can someone tell me where to buy or order rice wine in klang valley...would need them

Anonymous said...

Yeah, can u tell me where to get rice wine that's sweet! I love it! Kx

Anonymous said...

I love making glutinous rice wine as well, mine is quite inconsistent, my first 2 batch was a total disaster. The third one, oh sooo sweet and nice (i have a sweet tooth), fourth and fifth are kinda strong...

I wanna know what affects the outcome?
does the temperature of the storage area plays a big role?
How can i avoid a very strong wine (the fifth was harvested after 4 days of fermentation and its oh mama, its strong!)

Anonymous said...

Most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I will make and eat rice wine for a whole month when I decide that I want to poison my infant with my breast milk. Stupid Chinese tradition/rituals. You all need to get a clue and think about your babies' well being and not your own selfish needs for booze.

Mrs. Lee said...

A bottle of home made rice wine only RM 7 is far too cheap !! Where on earth we can buy it !! You're lucky as she does not know the market price !! It was RM 10 in 1980 !! Now selling at RM 14 is reasonable !!
Make you own rice wine !! It is easy to make. This is Taiwan website http://tw.myblog.yahoo.com/jw!7YHHs1WREQXzbipbYQ20rKMDMA--/article?mid=6915&sc=1

- Jia Enn - said...

hi, do u think that u can let me know the contact of the person who is still selling rice wine? i need it for my confinement... can u email to me at annielje@gmail.com?

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