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.


2 Responses to “Fermented Black Rice? For Dessert?”

  1. Posted on April 3rd, 2011

    One of my favorites! The dessert in Khmer is called Da Pbai Kmau. The rice retains a nice “pop” due to the hull remaining on the grain, but the fermentation process bathes the rice in a rich juicy syrup reminiscent of Riunite Lambrusco! Traditionally, in my family at least, no sugar is added. The fermentation changes enough starch to sugar to make it quite sweet if everything goes according to plan.. A word of wisdom..As with all yeast recipes, temperature is important in all stages of production. In addition to keeping the pot warmish during the fermentation process, it is equally important to let the rice cool down to *just* warm before sprinkling the crushed yeast balls. Otherwise, the finished flavor will be much more twangy and less sweet. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Posted on April 21st, 2013

    Black rice is a deep black color and usually turns deep purple when cooked. Its dark purple color is primarily due to its anthocyanin content, which is higher by weight than that of other colored grains but more limited in the number of different anthocyanin species present.*

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