Red Fermented Rice

Ange-kakin or Hong- qu [China]. Bheni-koji [Japan], commonly known as Red Yeast Rice in some English speaking countries. Red fermented rice is a unique culture-product, which has many uses in traditional oriental food preparation.

Red fermented rice is a rice product cultured with the mold, Monascus purpureus [filamentous fungi]. The mold cultures the rice to produce concentrated red pigments covering the entire surface, penetrating some 50% of each individual rice grain. The culture-product can be purchased in dry form from most Asian grocery outlets. Volume for volume, the dehydrated product is much lighter than non-fermented rice.

Dehydrated red fermented rice is usually ground and used in powder form. It has a slight nutty flavour with a bitter overtone, but of which is readily complimented with a little savory added, such as soy sauce. A variety of sufu is prepared with a brine consisting of ange-kakin, rice wine and sea salt. In this case ange-kakin is used as a natural food colouring agent to give the fermented tofu [sufu] an earthy-red colour.

Cholestin is a unique compound derived from Monascus purpureus when fermented on rice. The pharmacological active qualities of this food have been known and used in several Asian countries for over two thousand years. The pharmacological active properties of cholestin are gaining interest in the scientific community. The ancient Chinese pharmacopoeia, Ben Cao Gan Mu, records the use of red yeast to promote the health of the cardiovascular system.

In recent studies, this application was confirmed due to the discovery of the yeast-strain produces metabolic agents that assist in normalizing cholesterol levels. However, as with most pharmacological active foodstuff, and especially in this case, one should avoid consuming large amounts over extensive periods.

A General Red Yeast Rice Marinade Recipe


Mix all ingredients in a deep non metallic container and submerge the fresh food of choice, such as sliced tofu, tempeh, fillets or fresh meat and fish in the marinade. Refrigerated for one day at least before cooking the marinated product of choice. The famous Red Peaking Duck is traditionally rendered red in colour, by basting the surface of the Duck with red fermented rice powder mixed with sweet soy sauce. The Duck is hung for a few days to tenderise before it's baked.

The fresh root is pickled in a sweet and sour brine, prepared with 1/2 cup homemade non-pasteurized red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup raw honey, 1/2 cup of water and 1 Tbs of red fermented rice powder. The red fermented rice brine gives the pickled ginger a delicate pink colour. The pickled ginger root has an appealing hot bite typical of ginger, with a sweet/sour flavour to warm the mind, body, and lift the spirit. A few slices chewed between meals, or, blending with a glass of kefir, can be an aid for the prevention or the control of morning sickness including nausea in general suits.


  1. Monascus purpureus pigments as yoghurt colorants Research into the possible use of red rice as a natural food-colouring for commercial yogurt.
  2. A link to further references, studies and articles regarding Cholestin [a cholesterol reducer].


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