You know that you’re in Asia, when there is rice in your plate, rice growing around (stunning landscapes by the way, much nicer than a potatoe field) and last but not least, rice is in your glass!
There are hundreds of different beverages made from rice in this part of the world. Humans have learnt to use what’s growing around to make them happy. Speaking of happiness…: There are various degrees from 0 to close to 100% with various names depending on the country. Soft beverages, then rice wine (there are dozens of different names: “raksi” in Nepal, “ara” in Bhutan, “miju” in China, “sra sohl” in Cambodia that is supposed to have between 18% and 25% or sake (also with different names depending on the country) which is stronger.
Cambodians make their own rice wine. In each village there is at least one household that provides this yeasty and blurred alcohol beverage. As I wrote before “rice wine” should be of 18-25% strong, but Cambodians are not sissies… We only managed to find the 30% and 50% one…
In Chiro village, Kampong Cham province we were lucky enough to visit one of such “production sites”. Below the pictures, very “artisanal”, can’t be more hand-crafted (eat this, big industries!) and probably can’t be less hygienic… On the other hand for the rice wine the fermentation job is done by microbes, not the natural enzymes of the cereals (like for beer), so it shouldn’t be too hygienic, ain’t it? No microbes, no rice wine.
We tried both of them – 30% and 50% and we’re still alive and our sight seems ok. Surprisingly I preferred the stronger one (Polish speaking 🙂 ) if any at all… It’s not the best beverage in the world, unless you’re a big fan of yeasty tastes.. But it can do for a nice cocktail with some citrus ingredients.
Here is how to make the Khmer rice wine on your own (according to the the local lady):
- cook rice
- make it dry
- add water and a secret powder shown by our Cambodian “master distiller”, which was probably some kind of yeast
- ferment the mix over 5 days
- cook it again and collect the rice wine from the steam of the cooking!
- drink for the aperitif!
Cambodians make also their rice wine red (white wine, red wine, of course!) adding pieces of wood, but also they like to add different kinds of reptiles to make it more tasty, yak….
1L of the 30% ready rice wine: 3000 riels (0,80$), 1L of the 50% one: 5000 riels (1,20 $)