Since its origins, there have been several debates concerning where rice was first cultivated. Some archaeologists stated that the first crop was located in China, while recent evidence placed it in India.
Wherever the real origin is, the truth is that in general terms, Asia is the birthplace of one of the most consumed grains in the world. Almost 4 billion people worldwide eat rice in their daily meals. China and India are on the top list with 50% of rice’s consumption.
So, it is not a big surprise to find out Asian people used it in almost every daily meal. A typical breakfast is a bowl of steamed rice with soy sauce and a raw egg on the top. Lunch and dinners are alike; they usually eat varied dishes like Thai fried Rice, Ground Beef Bulgogi, Pilaf, Sushi, Mughlai biryani, Teriyaki Chicken Bowl, Sayadieh, and so on.
Using rice in more than salty dishes
Rice is a common ingredient in most Asian preparations, and it is also found in a vast range of sugary dishes, and even drinks. Yakshik (sweetened rice with dried fruits and nuts), Thai Mango Sticky Rice, Rice Pudding, and Khao Niao Mamuang (sticky rice cooked with coconut milk) are some Asian typical desserts.
Regarding drinks, rice is used as a base in nonalcoholic, alcoholic, and spirits drinks. Some of the nonalcoholic drinks include:
- Genmaicha: Brown rice green tea.
- Hyeonmi cha: Infusion of roasted brown rice.
- Sua Gao: Rice milk made from brown rice and brown rice syrup, sweetened with sugar.
- Sikhye: Cooked rice with pine nuts.
The list of alcoholics and spirits is much larger. The tradition of using rice-based alcoholic beverages dates back thousands of years ago. So, they have mastered the science of making and drinking rice drinks. Some of them are different types of rice wine, vodka, and white spirit.
Knowing the ancient traditions of wine rice
This is an alcoholic beverage whose main ingredient is glutinous rice fermented with yeast, starter, herbs, spices, and water. Asia has a huge repertoire of rice wines:
- Sake: From Japan, it is the most popular Asian drink worldwide.
- Tapai: Commonly found in the Philippines. It is made from glutinous or brown rice and local yeast.
- Makgeolli: Korean rice wine with a milky appearance, and low-alcohol content.
- Shaoxing Wine: Chinese wine, very sweet, made from rice, water, and wheat.
- Handia: From India. Sometimes, it is also categorized as beer. It contains rice boiled with herbs.
People drink most of these rice wines as a simple beverage during celebrations, as an accompaniment in some meals, or as an ingredient in salty dishes.
Making a delicious Tapai
Tapai, also known as Tapuy, Tapey, or Tapay is a rice-based wine originally from Southeast Asia. It is a very potent drink with 50% or more alcoholic content. It is usually drunk at big celebrations and parties like Kadazan Dusun and Murut.
This wine is a combination of glutinous and non-glutinous rice, fermented with local yeast called bubod or sasad, onuad roots, ginger extract, and water.
If you are looking to taste a true Asian wine, you can make Tapai at home. It will take you about 7-10 days to end up with a delicious wine. Start by making a small amount of it, just take a cup of rice or more and try this rice-based drink.
- 2 cups of glutinous rice.
- 4 cups of water.
- 1 cake of budod or sasad (yeast).
- Ginger extract.
- Soak rice overnight.
- Cook rice with enough water. When it is ready, let it cool for 2 hours.
- Take 4 tablespoons of bubod or sasad, and crush them until making a powder.
- Sprinkle this powder all over the rice. Make sure rice is fully coated with this yeast.
- Place the mixture of the rice and yeast, and ginger extract in a clay jar.
- Cover the jar with a cloth, and tight very well. Set aside in a warm place away from the sunlight to ferment.
- Wait between 2-4 days, and you will smell a different aroma in the rice. At this stage, the fermentation is done. But, to get a more intense flavor, let it stand for 5-7 more days in the refrigerator.
- After 2 days of the process, the wine has light alcohol content. For getting a strong taste, wine needs to be refrigerated much longer.