How to make traditional sweet rice wine with Chinese food influencer Dianxi Xiaoge

Feb 13, 2020

Laozao is a popular dessert in China, often consumed during Lunar New Year. We asked food influencer Dianxi Xiaoge, who makes it herself at home, to show us how it’s done.

What happens when you combine sticky rice with yeast? You get a sweet boozy snack called laozao 醪糟, a popular dessert in China.

Also called jiuniang 酒酿 (jiu meaning alcohol), the dish is a sweet soup made when steamed sticky rice is packed in a tight jar with yeast.

A bowl of laozao made with eggs and goji berries.
A bowl of laozao made with eggs and goji berries. / Photo: Hanley Chu

After about a week, the mixture starts to produce a sweet rice wine, which can then be used to flavor a variety of dishes—including steamed buns, pork, and pumpkin—or consumed by itself with the rice and other toppings.

The fermentation process that leads to laozao is the same one that produces other rice-based liquors such as Japanese sake and Korean makgeolli.

(Read more: Everything you ever wanted to know about baijiu, China’s most potent liquor)

We learned about this dish when we visited the home of Dianxi Xiaoge, a Chinese food influencer with over 11 million followers worldwide.

A still from Dianxi Xiaoge’s video, where she makes her own rice wine.
A still from Dianxi Xiaoge’s video, where she makes her own rice wine. / Photo: Courtesy of Dianxi Xiaoge

She had a batch of rice wine ready for us and cooked it over an open fire with brown sugar, dates, goji berries, and two poached eggs.

The result was sweet, nutty soup that, according to her, is a Lunar New Year must for people in her village in southwestern Yunnan Province.

Here’s the recipe for the laozao base (whatever else you put in it is up to you). This recipe is part of a six-part collaboration with Dianxi Xiaoge where she shows us how to make her most iconic dishes. Stay tuned for more!

Recipe

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  • 5 cups of glutinous rice
  • 10 grams of sweet wine yeast
  • 1 cup of water

 

  1. Wash the glutinous rice, and then soak for at least five hours. Make sure there is at least two inches of water on top of the rice.
  2. Filter out the water, and then steam the rice for 20 to 30 minutes in a steamer. Let the rice cool down to room temperature.
  3. Combine yeast and water in a cup and mix thoroughly. Add the mixture to the rice, using your fingers to mix it all together and separate the rice kernels from each other.
  4. Ladle the rice into a mason jar and pack it tightly. Poke a thumb-sized hole in the middle.
  5. Seal the jar tightly, and set aside for about five days (10 days during the winter). You’ll find the filled with sweet rice wine. Enjoy!
At Home With Dianxi XiaogeRecipesChinese alcohol

Credit

Host and Producer: Clarissa Wei

Videographers: Hanley Chu and Shirley Xu

Editor: Hanley Chu

Mastering: Victor Peña

Additional Footage Provided By: Dianxi Xiaoge