Great Balls of Fire Water: Yeast Balls!

I leaked the following picture on our Facebook group and Twitter accounts yesterday:

Great Balls of Fire Water: Yeast Balls! Yeast Fermenting Supplies Fermenting DecemberI had been looking for this bag of yeast over the last several months.  It was easy to find online but I knew that I should be able to find it in one of many of Toronto’s Asian Markets.  Finding it proved to be more difficult than I thought.

Yeast balls are used by many Asian cultures – and this became part of the problem.  I didn’t know the name of the thing I was looking for (other than it’s English term).  In Thailand they are called “pang khao mahk” yet their are Japanese and Chinese versions as well.  Asking for “Yeast Balls” yielded no results and many of the shelves I searched stored things alphabetically – but not based on the English version of the name.  So searching for these became a manual process.

The manual process was made more difficult by not knowing the scale of what I was looking for.  Each of these balls is roughly the size of a quarter (although they are a ball and not a disc of course).  They come in packs of about 25 and are about 8×12 inches.

What are they used for?  This yeast is a primary ingredient for Sake and other rice wine and beer.  I am sure there are other uses and, now that I have them in my possession, I plan to experiment and learn!

If you’re in Toronto and looking for them, I found them on the East Side of Spadina, just South of Dundas in a large subterranean grocery store (this is actually fairly easy to find based on these directions even if they sound vague).

Has anyone out here used these before?  I’d love to hear!


  1. what is listed in the ingredients besides yeast? (We are Gluten intolerant here)… seems like there would be many uses for these…

    • Karen,

      It says Rice and Water. I have found that the translation sometimes fails the details so depending on the severity of the intolerance you may want to experiment slowly. What are some of the other uses you’re thinking of?


      • Thanks! I was actually thinking of GF baking and fermenting GF adult beverages. I will definitely be doing some experimenting when I find some of that.

        • Most welcome Karen! We’re planning to do some experimenting with it as well – especially once fruit season kicks in! We’ll share our results, would love to hear yours. If you struggle finding it, there were a lot of online retaillers selling it as well.. :)

  2. That really is the best Asian market on Spadina. It’s amazing the things you can find if you’re just willing to spend the time (And a LONG time) browsing. I even found canned “Milk and Peanut soup” once.

  3. Sake requires yeast AND Aspergillus Oryzae. Do you know if these balls include the Aspergillus Oryzae (also found on cultured koji rice)

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