Red Yeast Rice in Santa Fe?
I've been wanting to try my hand at Foo Chow Ang Jiu (Chinese red rice wine), but am having trouble finding someone who sells whole red yeast rice in the Santa Fe area. I've tried Ziggy's, Ta Lin (both in SF and ABQ), La Montanita Co-op and every other grocery store with a decent bulk or "international" section. When I ask, I either get blank stares or am directed to the powdered form of red yeast rice used as a nutritional supplement. The only place where they even knew what I was talking about was Ziggy's, and they were in the process of closing down and were no longer ordering new stock. I've even struck out trying to find it online.
Anyone have any ideas? I'd prefer to shop local, since I can avoid shipping charges, but I'd take just about anything right now!
Interestingly, I did once find a discarded shopping list on the ground here that listed "Red Yeast Rice??" amongst other items.
Hi BBL, You're not going to find culinary red yeast rice in NM. It's too unstable. Extremes of temperature or variations in humidity will destroy or spoil the culture, and it can't be stored for very long.
When used for food, I'm pretty sure it's called by its Japanese names -- akakoji, or just red koji -- so it might help to search under those terms. When I got it in my head to try and make tempeh a few years ago, I found a place called Gem Cultures, and I think they sell red kojic rice online, mostly for people who want to try to brew sake at home (another good search would probably be for sake brewing supplies). Be warned, though, it's probably going to be expensive since they have to ship cultured foods it with dry ice or something like that.
You can also make your own kojic rice with short-grain white rice, but I don't know how one controls the type of mold to get only the red kind without already having some red koji on hand. Also, I read a few years ago that consuming too much of this stuff can cause all kinds of liver and kidney trouble. I don't know what too much is, but please be careful.
OK, unable to sleep, I did a search for sake brewing supplies myself and found these:
Interesting comments in the second post about Merck somehow patenting this culture and campaigning to make it hard for people to get whole red yeast rice.
Thanks for the info! There is some really interesting stuff in those links -- particularly the part about being able to make akaisake using the powdered health supplement form of the rice (although the sake still calls for regular koji, and my foo chow ang jiu recipe doesn't, so I don't know if this would work for me).
I imagine that like most "too much of this can cause health problems" scares, I would have to consume a huge amount of the stuff. Since I just want to try the wine and some recipes I've found that use the dregs, I doubt I'll eat enough to cause problems. This wine has been around for hundreds (thousands?) of years, after all, and I believe it is traditionally gifted to pregnant women.
The Merck thing is worrying, although it's hard to tell if it's true or a rumour or something in progress. Perhaps I should ask my sister in Vancouver to check around Chinatown for me. Or maybe there's a homebrew supply store in town that can order something in (I know I've ridden by one out on Cerrillos).