Homemade Black Sweet Rice Wine



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It is a very traditional and common for Chinese people to make sweet rice wine at home.  But it is not really the clear-colored high alcohol content version of “rice wine” you are thinking.  It is non-distilled, very sweet, and more dessert like.

The most common one is made with pure white sweet rice.  Sometime people add different ingredients to make variations too.  This time I add black sweet rice.  After fermentation, it becomes a gorgeous deep purple color.

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1 cup of sweet rice
1 cup of black sweet rice
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of rice wine starter/ yeast, finely ground
cold boiled water
more water for rice cooking


Cook the sweet rice and black sweet rice separately.  I use Zojirushi Micom stainless steel 3 cups rice cooker

Sweet rice absorbs less water than regular white rice.  So use a little bit less water when cooking sweet rice.  And I use “quick” setting.

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The reason I cook two kinds of sweet rice separately is that I want them to keep their own colors. 

Wait for two different rice to be cooked and cooled down; add them to a large bowl; and mix gently with a spatula. 

Sweet rice can be very sticky when cooled down.  That is where cold boiled water comes in. 

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Rice wine starter/yeast is very popular and common in Asian countries.  You should be able to buy it from any Asian grocery stores.  They are usually sold in a small plastic package which contains two round rice yeast balls.  Smash and grind them into fine white powder before adding them to sweet rice.

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Sprinkle sweet rice mixture with rice wine starter/ yeast powder.  Gently mix everything together again.  

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Pat the rice flat, leaving a one-inch hole in the center.  The hole is totally operational.  You don’t have to do it.  It is just a lot easier to observe how much rice wine coming out the rice through that hole in the center.  

Cover with lid or plastic wrap.  Store it in warm dry place for 2 to 3 days. 

At the end of fermentation time, you can test if sweet rice wine is ready or not by its taste.  Sweetness is how we tell.  The sweeter, the better.  If you get blank taste, just put it back, wait for another day, and taste again.

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Sweet rice wine can be served immediately when it is completely fermented, and yes, both liquid and the rice part.  My favorite way is to refrigerate it overnight and serve it cold. 

In my hometown, people used to make pickle vegetables with sweet rice wine in old times.  But fewer and fewer families are still doing so.  Vinegar is quicker and less labor intensive. 

Sweet rice wine can be served cold and hot.  Cooking it with sweet rice cake balls is another classic way to enjoy it. 

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Braised smoked Pig Tails in Soy Sauce

Tails are another one of my favorite parts from a hog.  They don’t look like much.  But the texture and taste are both awesome.  They are similar to ox tails, but smaller, sometimes leaner, and usually sold with skin on. 

They can be cooked in soup, braised, or deep fried.  Different cooking method would bring out different flavors.  After trying most cooking ways I can think of, smoking-and-then-braising becomes my new favorite way to cook them.

nlike what I used to buy from market back in China, the tails sold in America grocery market are much shorter, thicker and fattier.  Hours of smoking process can help to get rid of excessive pork fat.


2 packages of pig tails (weighs around 3 to 4 pounds)
1 large piece of ginger root, smashed
1 to 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons rice cooking wine
1/4 to 1/3 cup of soy sauce
1/2  to 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons rock cane sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns
3 to 4 star anises
3 to 4 pieces of dried ginger
2 to 3 cloves
 a handful dried chili peppers
salt to taste
water for cleaning and cooking



Preheat smoker to 250F/121C

Cleaning pig tails under running water.  Pat dry with kitchen paper towel.  Smoke them in smoker for 3 to 4 hours. 

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The exterior becomes dry, crunchy and crispy.  Most excessive fat has dripped away in smoking process.

I smoke some pork belly along with tails.  Look how pretty they are

Add smoked tails to a cast iron pot, along with water, spices and seasonings.  Cook over high heat until water boils.  Reduce heat to simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. 

Turn the heat back to high, add salt to taste, and cook until most liquid evaporates.

Serve immediately

Tails are amazing part from hogs.  They are mostly bones and skins, not much meat attaching to them.  After long hours’ simmering and braising in soy sauce and spices, the lean meat part is soft and moist; and the skin part is soft and slightly chewy and al dente. 

Bon Appetite!

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2018 Chinese New Year Eve & Tofu Ball with Pork and Mushroom Fillings

02/16/2018 is Chinese New Year Day.  Family members get together on New Year’s Eve and have a big family feast together.  It is very much like Thanksgiving Day for American people.  It is all about celebrating, appreciation, families and love. 

Fish in spicy beer sauce

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Steamed pork belly and taro

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Steamed Chicken feet with oyster sauce

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Tofu balls with pork and mushrooms fillings

Smoked pig tails

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Pickled daikon

Stir-fried pea tips with garlic

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Sweet rice cake with nuts and red bean paste filling

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Can you believe it is tofu?  O(∩_∩)O~          

Yes, it is definitely tofu.  Chinese people invented tofu more than a thousand years ago.  We have been cooking and eating tofu in numerous different ways ever since.  Sometimes you know what you eat is tofu, but sometimes you don’t even know if you are eating tofu. 



2 packages of fried tofu balls ( a total of 16)
100g ground pork
6 to 8 pieces dried wood ear mushroom
a handful of  dried shitake or regular mushroom
1 cup sweet rice
 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 to 2 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
salt to taste
water for soaking and cooking


Soak sweet rice for at least 4 hours.  Drain well.

Soak mushrooms with water for at least 2 hours.  Rinse well under running water.  Add to processor, and finely chop them.

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Add ground pork, chopped mushrooms, and sweet rice, along with all the seasonings to a large bowl.  Mix well with a wooden spoon or a pair of chopsticks.

With a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut a small opening on each tofu balls, and then scoop out inner tofu as much as possible.

Fill the tofu balls with pork sweet rice mixture.

Add all tofu balls to a medium pot, add water.  Season the water with salt.  Cook over high heat until water boils.  Cover with lid; reduce the heat to simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes. 

Turn the heat back to high.  Cook until all the liquid evaporates. 

Serve hot

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It tastes like across meat balls and sweet rice cake balls.  Dried mushrooms and pork add ton of flavors to it.  I love it not just because it tastes good, also because I grew up eating it.  ( ̄▽ ̄)”

Spicy Sliced Mixed Beef in Chili Oil Sauce



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Spicy sliced mixed beef in chili oil sauce is a very traditional and popular dish in Southwest China area.  The weather is extremely hot and humid in summer time there, so local people have been developed a unique spicy cuisine to spice up regular daily food to be more appetizing.

According to legend, local poor working class people couldn’t afford expensive beef cuts like steak or ribs.  They collected what was left or unwanted beef parts from market; boiled them for a long time until they got tender enough to eat; thinly sliced, tossed them with soy sauce and red chili oil sauce.  The dish got popular because it was quite affordable and surprisingly tasty.  Years later, a local food stand run by a couple further adapted and perfected the dish by adding more complicated chili sauce; substituted beef lung with beef shank.  So people named the dish after this couple.  Don’t be surprised if you see “couple’s beef” on a Chinese restaurant menu.  That is how the dish got its name.  A Sichuan restaurant Twin Peppers in Houston even name the dish “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”.   Interesting, isn’t it?

I still call it spicy sliced mixed beef in chili oil sauce to avoid any possible confusion.

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For beef boiling:

1 beef shank
2 large pieces of beef tendons
1 small piece beef tripe
1 large piece of ginger root, cleaned and rinsed, smashed
3 to 4 dry chili peppers
1 small piece of cinnamon bark
2 star anises
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 to 4 cloves
1 black cardamom
3 to 4 pieces of dried ginger
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
salt to taste  



Clean and rinse beef shank, tendon, and tripe under running cold water.  Pat dry with kitchen paper towel

Wrap all the spices with a piece of coffee paper filter. Tie it up.

Fill a 4 quart cast iron/ stainless steel soup pot with water.  Add beef shank and tendon.  Cook over high heat until it boils.  Keep cooking over high heat for about 10 minutes.  Skim any bubbles or impurity on the top with a large spoon.

Add ginger root, rice cooking wine and spice bag to the pot.

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Cover with lid.  Reduce heat to simmer until the beef is soft and tender.

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It takes about 4 to 5 hours.  You can use a chopstick to test if the beef is ready.  If the chopstick can easily pierce through the center of beef shank and tendon, it means they are ready.  If not, continue cooking for another half an hour or so.

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Drain the beef.  Reserve the broth for later use.  Refrigerate beef shank and tendon for 3 to 4 hours.  When the beef is chilled, it becomes firm and tight, easier to slice.

Using a sharp kitchen knife, thinly slice beef tendon and shank

Beef tendon tends to bounce back when being sliced, so you need to be very careful.

Beef shank is very pretty on the inside

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Chili oil sauce

I make it from scratch.  But you can buy them from any Asian grocery store. 

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Besides chili oil sauce, cooked soy sauce is also very important to the dish. I adapt the recipe from http://bbs.wenxuecity.com/archive/2005/cooking/298864.html, many thanks to the original author

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Ingredients for cooked soy sauce:

1 cups of soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 to 4 cloves
1 small piece cinnamon bark
1 black cardamom
2 to 3 star anises
1 to 2 bay leaves
1 small piece of ginger root

Add all the ingredients to a small sauce pan

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Cook over medium heat.  When the soy mixture boils, reduce to as minimum heat as possible to simmer for 40 to 60 minutes.

Remove from heat.  Cool it down under room temperature.  Cover with lid and store in refrigerator.  

I double the amount of this recipe because I use this cooked soy sauce a lot.

Thinly slice the beef tripe, blanch it in boiling water for a couple minutes.

Add thinly sliced beef tripe, tendon and shank to a large bowl, along with: (http://bbs.wenxuecity.com/archive/2005/cooking/298864.html, many thanks to the original author.)

1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup chili oil sauce
3 to 4 tablespoons cooked soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorn oil
salt to taste
chopped/ sliced celery
crushed roasted peanuts

Gently toss all the ingredients in a large bowl with a big spoon.

Doesn’t is look tasty?  O(∩_∩)O~

Tossed beef can be served immediately.  I like to set it aside for another half an hour before serving it.  The extra time will help all the spices to mix better.  The flavor will be more smooth and harmonious.

 Sprinkle the top with crushed peanuts and serve.

It is spicy for sure.  Other than that, there is also a savory, sweet and umami flavor all mixed with delicious beef.   Mixed beef is from different part of beef with taste and texture of their own, chili oil sauce is the one that brings everything together and makes the dish so tasty. 

If you haven’t tried it before, you might never know inner beef can be so delicious too. ( ̄▽ ̄)”

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Braised Pork Feet and Chicken Hocks in Soy Sauce



Braised pork/ chicken/ beef in soy sauce are very traditional way to slow cook food in China.  Although the specific details vary from the south to the north; families to families, the essential ingredients remain the same.  Meat, soy sauce, rice cooking wine and ginger are a must for this dish. 

I learnt how to cook it by watching my grandma in the kitchen, starting with passing along soy sauce, washing ginger and building wood fire.  After a while, I could help with seasoning the meat and occasional stirring during simmer process.  I learnt from all these tiny things and daily chores that cooking can be so amazing and magical. 

The common ingredients to be braised are pork belly or other parts of pork, chicken, fish, shrimps and beef.  Technically most meat can be cooked this way.  I just personally prefer pork and chicken.

The chicken bones I use here are not really “bones”.  It is chicken hocks, the ankle part connecting chicken feet and drumsticks.  Not many Asian grocery stores sell it.  Whether and when you can buy it pretty much depends on your luck that day. ( ̄▽ ̄)”

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1 package of cut pork feet (about 2 to 3 pounds)
1 package of chicken bones
1 large piece of ginger root, cleaned and smashed
3 to 4 dried chili peppers,cut into pieces
1 small piece of cinnamon bark
3 to 4 star anies
1 to 2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
5 to 6 cloves
1 black cardamom,smashed
4 to 5 dried ginger
2 to 3 bay leaves
4 to 5 tablespoons rice cooking wine
salt to taste
1/4 to 1/3 cup soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
water for cooking



Clean pork feet and chicken bones and rinse well under running water.

Add dried chili peppers, star anises, Sichuan peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, black cardamom, dried ginger and bay leaves to a piece of coffee filter paper.

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Tie it up to be a spice bag

Fill a large pot with cold water.  Add cut pork feet.  Cook over high heat until water boils.  Continue cooking over high heat for 7 to 8 minutes.  Drain well and rinse with hot water.

Heat a cast iron soup pot over high heat.  Add 2 to 3 quarts of water, blanched pork feet, spice bag and rice cooking wine.

Cook until the water boils.

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Cover with lid.  Reduce the heat to simmer about 90 minutes.

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At the same time, blanch chicken bones in boiling water for 2 minutes.

After 90 minutes, tough tissues on pork feet gradually become tender.

Add chicken bones to cook together for another 30 to 40 minutes.

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Add soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar and salt; cook together for another 5 minutes.  Tune up the heat to medium high.

Gently stir pork feet and chicken from time to time using a wood spoon.

When most the liquid in the pot has evaporated, remove from heat and serve immediately with pot. 

Anyone who hasn’t tried braised pork/chicken feet might consider it is bizarre and strange.  You have to try them yourself to know how amazing they taste.  After long hours’ braising, tough tissues and meat become soft and tender, but with a very special gelatin-like texture which makes to top of my favorite list.

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I also stir fry some green vegetables to make it a delicious and nutritious meal.

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