Vietnamese fermented glutinous rice (Com ruou)

Fermented glutinous rice is a traditional food which consists of semi-translucent white broth, tender, sticky small fermented glutinous rice balls. The food is usually served with syrup. The sweet-sour taste, the tender and sticky texture, the smell like wine of the food have attracted most of the Vietnamese people for long years.

Women usually make this food for the families after harvesting glutinous rice. This food is also a great gift, which is bought by mothers or grandmothers at local market, to children.  It has been a beautiful childhood memory of many Vietnamese people.

A beautiful Vietnamese folk song says:

“Tháng tư đong đậu nấu chè Ăn Tết Đoan ngọ trở về tháng năm.”

(“In April, measure beans and cook sweet soups; In May, organize Worm-killing festival.”)

In the past, Sweet soup (Chè) and Fermented glutinous rice (Chè cơm rượu) are two must-food at Worm-killing festival (or Mid-year festival, Tết đoan ngọ in Vietnamese) which happens on 5th May of the Lunar calendar. Vietnamese people should prepare ingredients for the sweet soups one month before for the festival. Fermented glutinous rice is usually made on 3th May so that it is ready on 5th May. At this festival, Vietnamese people take a bath with a liquid cooked from water and fragrant leaves, eat fruits, Pyramidal glutinous rice cake, duck, Fermented glutinous rice, Sweet soup from beans, Steamed glutinous rice.

Fermented glutinous rice is made from Golden-flower glutinous rice, which is sticky and fragrant, and fermented glutinous rice yeast ball. To make this dessert, steam glutinous rice until tender, then cool down. Fermented glutinous rice yeast ball is coated with husks which should be removed. A white ball is revealed after removing the husks. Then pound the ball into a white powder. Spread a thin layer of steamed glutinous rice on a tray, then sprinkle the yeast on the rice. Flip the layer of steamed glutinous rice and sprinkle the yeast on the rice. Form the steamed glutinous rice coated with yeast into small balls by hand. The cook should dip her fingers in a mixture of warm water and salt to get the rice to not stick to her hand. Store these balls in a covered container. Banana leaves are used to put on the bottom of the container and cover the balls to enhance the flavor of the steamed glutinous rice. The dessert is ready after 3-5 days. The liquid is glutinous rice wine which can be separated from the balls and stored in a jar to drink later. Bloating on the liquid, The balls turn tender and sour and smell like wine. Fermented glutinous rice is served with syrup in a rice bowl or a lotus leaf.

If the steamed glutinous rice is steamed for too long, the liquid turns into a strong wine. Vietnamese people put this wine into a jar, add first born eggs to the jar, cover the jar and bury it under the ground for 100 days. This kind of wine is called One-hundred-of-day wine.

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