Fermented Black Rice? For Dessert?

This is a special Cambodian dessert dish we were served at Phnom Penh restaurant in Vancouver (they think I’m a famous local chef and always spend extra attention – it’s funny). This chewy, sweet dessert has a beautiful dark cherry flavour – not dissimilar to port really – and tingles on your tongue. It’s quite an experience.

The ingredients and assembly are quite simple, but it takes some patience.

Tha Pai – Sweet Thai Black Rice Wine Dessert:


*    8 cups sweet Thai black rice (available in Asian food stores)
*    4 Shanghai yeast balls (available in Asian food stores)
*    Sugar (to taste)

Cook 8 cups of sweet Thai black rice (I used 10 cups of water and it seemed a good ratio). It’s OK for the rice to be a little wet – you want it to be juicy when finished.

Spread the cooked rice out on cookie sheets to cool. Meanwhile, crush the yeast balls in a mortar & pestle into a fine powder. Once rice is cool, sprinkle the yeast powder over all the rice and mix together very well. Make sure to get it really worked in throughout.

Place rice/yeast mixture in a clay or ceramic pot (I used Corningware), cover with plastic wrap and wrap in towels and/or blankets (you want it insulated so it stays warm as it ferments). Place the wrapped bowl in a warm dark place for 8 days for 8 days. No peeking!

On the 8th day, add some simple sugar (add to taste – more if you like really sweet) and re-wrap and store for another 4 days. On the 12th day, it should be ready to serve. This dish should last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator.

You could serve this dessert cold by itself or over your favourite dessert like ice cream. So good.


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