Packaged tapai paste made from cassava in Indonesia
Alternative namesPeuyeum, etc.
TypeRice wine, alcoholic paste
Region or stateSoutheast Asia, East Asia, South Asia
Main ingredientsUsually white rice, glutinous rice
Tapuy, a traditional Ifugao rice wine prepared with tapay in the Cordillera highlands of Luzon, Philippines
Dried alcoholic fermented cassava or peuyeum at Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Tapai (also tapay or tape) is a traditional fermented preparation of rice or other starchy foods, and is found throughout much of Southeast Asia, especially in Austronesian cultures, and parts of East Asia. It refers to both the alcoholic paste and the alcoholic beverage derived from it. It has a sweet or sour taste[1] and can be eaten as is, as ingredients for traditional recipes, or fermented further to make rice wine (which in some cultures is also called tapai). Tapai is traditionally made with white rice or glutinous rice, but can also be made from a variety of carbohydrate sources, including cassava and potatoes.[1][2] Fermentation is performed by a variety of moulds including Aspergillus oryzae, Rhizopus oryzae, Amylomyces rouxii or Mucor species, and yeasts including Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Saccharomycopsis fibuliger, Endomycopsis burtonii and others, along with bacteria.[1][2]


Tapai is derived from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *tapay ("fermented [food]"), which in turn is derived from Proto-Austronesian *tapaJ ("fermented [food]"). Derived cognates has come to refer to a wide variety of fermented food throughout Austronesia, including yeasted bread and rice wine.[3][4] Proto-Malayo-Polynesian *tapay-an also refers to large earthen jars originally used for this fermentation process. Cognates in modern Austronesian languages include tapayan (Tagalog), tapayan (Maguindanaon), tepayan (Iban), and tempayan (Javanese and Malay).[3][4]

Starter culture

Tapai is made by inoculating a carbohydrate source with the required microorganisms in a starter culture. This culture has different names in different regions, shown in the table below. The culture can be naturally captured from the wild, by mixing rice flour with ground spices (include garlic, pepper, chili, cinnamon), cane sugar or coconut water, slices of ginger or ginger extract, and water to make a dough.[2] The dough is pressed into round cakes, about 3 cm across and 1 cm thick, and left to incubate on trays with banana leaves under and over them for two to three days. They are then dried and stored, ready for their next use.

Region China Indonesia/Malaysia Korea Philippines Thailand
Name peh-chu, jiuyao (simplified Chinese: 酒药; traditional Chinese: 酒藥; pinyin: jiǔyào; Jyutping: zau2joek1) ragi tapai nuruk bubod, bubur, bubud, budbud, budbod, tapay[5] look-paeng


Tapai ketan, fermented glutinous rice wrapped in leaf, Kuningan, West Java.


Traditionally, cooked white rice or glutinous rice are fermented in tapayan jars. Depending on the length of time and various processes, tapai will result in a large number of end products. These include slightly fermented dough used for rice cakes (Filipino galapong); dried fermented cakes (Indonesian brem cakes); fermented cooked rice (Filipino buro, tapay, inuruban, binubudan, binuboran; Indonesian/Malaysian tapai or tape); fermented rice with shrimp (Filipino buro, balaobalao, balobalo, tag-ilo); fermented rice with fish (Filipino buro); or various rice wines (Filipino tapuy, tapey, bubod, basi, pangasi; Indonesian brem wine).[5]


Fermented rice gruel/paste

In modern times, in addition to rice, different types of carbohydrates such as cassava or sweet potatoes can also be used. The general process is to wash and cook the target food, cool to about 30 °C, mix in some powdered starter culture, and rest in covered jars for one to two days. With cassava and sweet potato, the tubers are washed and peeled before cooking, then layered in baskets with starter culture sprinkled over each layer. The finished gruel will taste sweet with a hint of alcohol, and can be consumed as is, or left for several days more to become more sour.

Region Cambodia China India Indonesia Korea Malaysia Philippines Singapore Thailand Brunei
white rice chao, tapai lao-chao (Chinese: 醪糟; pinyin: láozāo; Jyutping: lou4zou1), Jiuniang tapai beras nuruk tapai nasi tapay, buro, balaobalao, balobalo, galapong bigas[5] tapai nasi khao-mak tapai
glutinous rice tapai Bhattejaanr tapai ketan tapai pulut[6] tapay, binuburang basi, tapay basi, inuruban, binubudan, binuboran, galapong, galapong malagkit, galapong pilit, galapong salaket[5] pulut
cassava tapai ketela,
tapai ubi kayu (Minangkabau),
tape singkong,
tape telo,
peuyeum (Sundanese)
tapai ubi kayu binuburang kamoteng kahoy, binuburang balanghoy, tapay panggi, tapay a banggala

Rice wine

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2018)

Uses in cuisine

Peuyeum (cassava tapai) as part of es doger sweet iced concoction dessert.


Tapai and its variants are usually consumed as it is; as sweet mildly-alcoholic snacks, to accompany tea in the afternoon. The sweet fermented tapai however, are often used as the ingredient in a recipe of certain dishes. Sundanese cassava peuyeum is the main ingredient for colenak; a roasted fermented cassava tapai served with kinca a sweet syrup made of grated coconut and liquid palm sugar. Colenak is Sundanese portmanteau of dicocol enak which translates to "tasty dip". Tapai uli is a roasted block of bland-tasted ketan or pulut (glutinous rice) served with sweet tapai ketan or tapai pulut. The peuyeum goreng or tapai goreng, or known in Javanese as rondho royal is another example of Indonesian gorengan (assorted fritters), which is deep fried battered cassava tapai.

In beverages, tapai, both cassava or glutinous rice, might be added into sweet iced concoction desserts, such as es campur and es doger.


Tapay, a traditional Maguindanaon rice snack from Maguindanao, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, Philippines.

In the Philippines, there are various tapay-derived dishes and drinks. They were originally referred to by the term tinapay (literally "done through tapay), as recorded by Antonio Pigafetta. But the term tinapay is now restricted to "bread" in modern Filipino languages. The most common use of fermented rice is in galapong, a traditional Filipino viscous rice dough made by soaking (and usually fermenting) uncooked glutinous rice overnight and then grinding it into a paste. It is used as a base for various kakanin rice cakes (notably puto and bibingka). Fermented gruel-type tapay are also common, with various ethnic groups having their own versions like Tagalog and Kapampangan buro, the Ifugao binuburan, and the Maranao and Maguindanao tapay. These are usually traditionally fermented with or paired with fish or shrimp (similar to Japanese narezushi), as in burong isda, balao-balao, or tinapayan. Rice wines derived from tapay include the basi of Ilocos and the tapuy of Banaue and Mountain Province. Tapuy is itself the end product of binuburan allowed to ferment fully.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Norman F. Haard; et al. (1999). "Fermented Cereals. A Global Perspective". United Nations FAO.
  2. ^ a b c Indrawati Gandjar (August 2003). "TAPAI from Cassava and Cereals" (PDF). University of Indonesia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 January 2005. Retrieved 28 July 2006.
  3. ^ a b Blust, Robert; Trussel, Stephen. "Austronesian Comparative Dictionary: *t". Austronesian Comparative Dictionary. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  4. ^ a b Fitrisia, Dohra; Widayati, Dwi (2018). "Changes in basic meanings from Proto-Austronesian to Acehnese". Studies in English Language and Education. 5 (1): 114–125. doi:10.24815/siele.v5i1.9431.
  5. ^ a b c d e Nocheseda, Elmer. "The Invention of Happiness". Manila Speak. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  6. ^ Keith Steinkraus (26 March 2004). Industrialization of Indigenous Fermented Foods, Revised and Expanded. CRC Press. pp. 247–. ISBN 978-0-8247-4784-8.