Fermented Sweet Rice

October 19, 2022

Jiu niang, also known as fermented sweet rice, is used in both savory and sweet preparations in Chinese cuisine. We make our own jiu niang according to our own recipe, but first, let’s break down exactly what it is.


Jiu Niang is a type of fermented sweet rice that is created by mixing sticky rice with a yeast starter prepared from distiller’s yeast called jiu qu. Its booze content is only 1%-2%.

You may also encounter the term “sweet rice sauce,” which is a direct translation of the Chinese term “sweet rice wine” (tian mi jiu). It’s known as lao zao, tian jiu, nuo mi jiu, jiang mi jiu, and jiang mi jiu in different regions of China.

This component originated as a by-product of traditional rice wine making. When fermentation is halted before completion, a sweet liquid and cooked rice are left behind. It tastes sweet and has a hint of alcohol, and it has the consistency of rice pudding.

Since the fermentation process can be halted by refrigerating the liquid, jiu niang is typically consumed during the colder months of the year.

You might think of making jiu niang as the first step in making rice wine. If you let the rice ferment for long enough, you can make wine.


It is common to serve jiu niang and sweet tang yuan, or sticky rice dumplings, together while still warm. You either enjoy the flavor or find it unpleasant, as is the case with most fermented foods and beverages. But it seems to grow on you after a while!

A simple way to enjoy it is as a bowl of hot rice porridge, or even just by the spoonful.

Red Cooked Pork, Chinese Braised Fish, and even bread can all benefit from using this wine in place of rice wine (to replace part of the yeast and sugar, depending on the recipe, giving the dough a refreshing, sweet, and aromatic wine flavor).


In Asia, you may find this component easily. Make it from scratch with our Homemade Jiu Niang recipe.

You can prevent any further fermentation by keeping it in the fridge. There is a two- to four-month shelf life for homemade foods stored in the fridge. If purchasing pre-made from a store, make sure it is not over its use-by date.

Make sure you’re utilizing sanitary implements at all times. Sweet rice is easily ruined by the presence of mold, therefore it’s important that everything used in its preparation is clean.

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