Rice dessert drink

Sikhye 식혜

Sikhye is a traditional Korean beverage made with barley malt powder (yeotkiereum 엿기름) and rice. The taste is sweet and cold, with its own particular subtle flavor coming from barley malt. I love sikhye because of the flavor! Without the flavor, it will be like a bowl of sweet water and rice.

It’s known to help your digestion which is true for me! After eating lots of delicious food on festival days, I would drink sikhye for a dessert and for my digestion. I believe it cures my clogged stomach! : )

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I am surprised by the fact that so many people have requested this beverage. I had thought Sikhye would be one of a few dishes not likable to people from another culture. This was my thought when I was requested this food for the first time: “Wha? Sikhye is popular to people from other cultures, too?”

I found that most people who requested this food had known about it. They say, “Maangchi, what’s the white drink served at a Korean restaurant? If you can, please post the recipe.”

“Whenever I go to my favorite Korean restaurant, they serve delicious cold rice drink, can I request the recipe?”

When I lived in Korea, one day I gave sikhye to my American friend. I remember what he said at that time after sipping a little sikhye. “oops! What is this!… it looks like cereal with sugar water and the taste is kinda weird!” : ) I thought it was very funny, I could put myself into his shoes. I may feel the same way if I taste something very new to me and I find it’s totally different from the taste that I expect!

Don’t expect the taste of a bowl of cereal with sugar water!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

A package of barley malt powder, 2 cups of rice, 2 cups of sugar (adjust to your taste), 24-30 cups of water, and pine nuts

Directions

  1. Put 1 package of barley malted powder (1 pound) in a large basin and mix it with 24-30 cups of water. Let it sit for 2 hours until all the dregs are sunk to the bottom of the basin.3
  2. Make rice and set it aside.
    How to make rice using a pot:

    • Wash 2 cups of short grain rice. Drain and put in a pot with thick bottom.
    • Pour 1.5 cups of water into the pot. Soak it for an hour and close the lid.
    • Bring the pot to a boil over medium heat for 10 minutes.
    • Open the lid and turn the rice over with a rice scoop or spoon.
    • Simmer it over low heat for another 10 minutes! You will have nice fluffy rice!

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  3. When the mixed liquid of barley malt powder and water is completely separated (it takes about 1.5 hours-2 hours), pour the clear liquid from the top into your rice cooker.
    *tip: if you have leftover clear liquid, save it and keep it in the refrigerator. We are going to use it later.
  4. Add 1 cup of sugar and the cooked rice.
  5. Stir it and set the rice cooker’s function to “warm” for 4- 5 hours. Be sure not to set it “cook.” The reason for setting it to “warm” is to ferment the rice so that the starch from the rice converts to sugar. If you boil it, the fermenting process will stop.
  6. Throw out the sediments sunk on the bottom of the basin.
  7. 4 hours later, check to see if the rice is fermented or not. When the rice is fermented, a few grains of rice will float to the top of liquid.
  8. Strain the rice and rinse it in cold water. Set it aside in a container. Add a little cold water and keep it in the refrigerator.
  9. Transfer the liquid from the rice cooker to a large pot, and add the saved leftover liquid from #3 if you have it.
  10. Add 1 cup of sugar and bring to a boil.
    * tip: you can add more water and sugar if you want.
  11. Remove the foam floating on the top of the boiling liquid.
  12. Cool it down and transfer it to a glass jar or bottle and keep it refrigerator.11
  13. To eat, serve it cold in a bowl with a scoop of rice from #8. Drop in a few pine nuts, just before serving it.
    * tip: you can add crushed ice made with sikhye liquid. If you like all your rice grains to float, add 1 tbs of sugar and mix it right before serving it.

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180 Comments:

  1. aprillia Malaysia joined 2/17
    Posted February 27th, 2017 at 12:43 pm | # |

    Hello Maangchi!

    First of all, I really want to thank you for all these Korean recipes! I really wanna try to make myself and family various homemade Korean foods and bam! I found your website haha. And I am a very big fan of Korean foods :)

    I really have one specific question for this recipe though. Is shikhye an alcoholic drink? This is very important to me because I’m a Muslim and we Muslim can’t drink something that’s alcoholic even a little. But seriously, if it’s not, I really really love to try this because I watch so many Korean variety shows drinking this and I think it’s very tempting. Please answer this soon. Thanks! :)

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  2. Stefstef Medan, Indonesia joined 12/16
    Posted December 6th, 2016 at 10:49 pm | # |

    Hi, Maangchi.
    Wonder how many days can we keep the sikhye before it turns bad?
    because i plan to make a lot at once and store it in my refrigerator, but also I’m afraid that it will quickly turns bad..
    thanks

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted December 10th, 2016 at 11:59 am | # |

      It will be ok up to 1 week in the fridge. After that, it will go brown and the taste turns sour because it keeps fermenting. You still can eat it but you won’t enjoy the taste.

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  3. ahw Los Angeles joined 10/16
    Posted October 23rd, 2016 at 12:36 pm | # |

    I just made this sikhye yesterday, and tasted it this morning. Really good. I don’t have a rice cooker; I left it in a low oven (between 100 and 200 Fahrenheit) and it turned out great! Thanks Maangchi!

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  4. ricecakes Toronto joined 9/16
    Posted September 17th, 2016 at 4:33 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi, I’m wondering if I would be able to reuse the barley malt powder? i.e. mix one batch and let it separate, then use the sediment to mix a second batch? Thanks! :)

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  5. Lovetocookx3 Us joined 9/16
    Posted September 15th, 2016 at 1:32 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi

    How come my sikhye is more brown (like tea color) unlike yours is more of a white color.

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted September 20th, 2016 at 12:51 pm | # |

      Brownish sikhye means it’s well fermented or over fermented. Add more water.

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  6. portlif malaysia joined 9/16
    Posted September 6th, 2016 at 3:20 am | # |

    Dear Maangchi…I learn how to make diastatic malt.can i use the malt powder to make this delicous drink..

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  7. gn2568 Chicago joined 12/14
    Posted June 28th, 2016 at 11:13 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi! It’s summer, and it’s shikhye time!!! I craved it so much, so finally I decided to make my first one. I used honey powder instead of sugar, because that was all I had. I was also running out of it (~1/4 cup less than the total sugar). Somehow there were so much more foams than yours when while it was heated to boil, so I had to constantly take em out. And it was of course more brown. Going through all these experiments, when I tasted it, it was surprisingly sweet. I am amazed by the taste and I can’t wait til it cools down!!!

    Thank you Maangchi!!

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted July 7th, 2016 at 8:56 am | # |

      I think that it was a little more fermented, because it was so foamy. Next time you can dilute it with a bit of water if you want, it will be less intense, less sweet, and less brown. I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed it!

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  8. putri90 joined 5/15
    Posted June 1st, 2015 at 2:02 pm | # |

    Hi maangchi.. can i make shikye without sugar? How long it last in the fridge?

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 am | # |

      yes, you can make without sugar. It will naturally tastes a little sweet. You can keep for a week in the fridge. Good luck with your Korean cooking!

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  9. ashleele1989 Anaheim, California, USA joined 5/14
    Posted May 2nd, 2014 at 8:02 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi, thank you so so much for the great ( very thorough and clear) recipe for sikhye. I learnt about sikhye from your site and never hesitate to give it a try because of your detailing video clip. Before making my own sikhye, I have tried the drink from one of the best korean tofu house restaurant in my town called Kaju tofu house but their sikhye is really bad, overly sweet and all the rice sinks down to the bottom. I decided to make my own sikhye right after getting out of the restaurant. I followed your recipe carefully and try to read most of the comments to get more ideas about the drink. So, finally, i made it so successfully. I love to make my sikhye less sweet than usual so right before serving I can sprinkle a bit of sugar to the drink and then add the rice, amazingly all the rice float, i mean all of them float, none sinks down to the bottom. My sikhye has a unique aroma that i cannot describe, i believe the aroma comes from the barley malt and also the fermenting process with rice has made the smell more attractive. I love to cook korean food and i find your site’s recipes are great to try. I have made so far plenty dishes from your recipes. Thank you again for your great contribution

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted May 4th, 2014 at 11:44 am | # |

      It sounds like you made perfect shikhye! Yes, I like my shikhye less sweet with full malt flavor, too!
      “..right before serving I can sprinkle a bit of sugar to the drink and then add the rice, amazingly all the rice float,” yes, that’s right! Congratulations!

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  10. sl100048 Singapore joined 6/11
    Posted December 22nd, 2013 at 9:16 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi – I love your Shikhye recipe which is super easy. I am wondering how to make the cooked rice float a lot when serving as I tried twice which all cases the rice sank more than floating. Appreciate your advice on this. Have a great festive season.

    ps – I will be making this dessert for the New Year as my son is here from UK to spend time with us.

    Best, JY

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted December 22nd, 2013 at 10:47 pm | # |

      Just before serving, add 1 teaspoon sugar and stir it, then all the rice will float.

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  11. anastasialeehanbyul Seoul, South Korea joined 2/12
    Posted July 5th, 2013 at 4:32 am | # |

    Hi, Maangchi!
    Do you know by any chance exactly at what temperature should this mixture be kept to ferment successfully? I’m asking that because I found out that my rice cooker’s keep warm temperature is 70 C. This would be too high for making yogurt for example (I can adjust this temperature to 50 C). I was thinking that same applies in this case, and I need to lower the temperature, if I don’t maybe the rice won’t ferment properly. In any case I will try this recipe with lower temp first and see how it goes.

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted July 7th, 2013 at 1:53 pm | # |

      I have never measured the temperature when I made shikhey but I think I should do next time I make it again. Let me know about your experiment.

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      • pink1e San Francisco joined 7/14
        Posted July 30th, 2014 at 6:47 pm | # |

        Other recipes say keep it between 50 – 60 ℃ (120 – 40 F)

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  12. saigelee nunapitchuk joined 6/13
    Posted June 12th, 2013 at 6:01 am | # |

    I tried making this and it didn’t work. I followed the recipe but 5 hours later the rice didn’t float. what did I do wrong?

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    • Poidog_HI Guam joined 3/13
      Posted June 16th, 2013 at 9:38 am | # |

      The first time I made Sikhye it came out just like in the video, using a Korean Malt Powder I purchased from ebay. However because the malt powder was expensive I looked for an inexpensive alternative, and used a US made malt powder meant for baking or home beer brewing. I experienced the same results; the rice would not float to the surface even after 6 hours. I am going to go back to the previous malt powder I used. I found another seller who sells the barley malt in its raw form but one package is $18US! I found in my local Korean super market “Barley Malt Tea” I wonder if I could use that instead?

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  13. Jensung Taguig City, Philippines joined 6/13
    Posted June 3rd, 2013 at 12:43 pm | # |

    I love this dessert very much. I first tasted this drink at a popular Korean resto here in PH called Sariwon Korean Bbq and it was love at first “taste”. Hihi. I think the prep time requires a lot of time but I might try this when I have plenty of time. I saw this “instant sikhye mix” at a Korean Mart which cost around $5 and I might buy one this week. (^_^)

    Thanks Maangchi for your recipes. I am really a fan of everything about korea expecially the food. My officemate thinks that I am a Korean in a Filipina body. Hahaha. That’s funny and I think he’s right. (^_^)

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  14. Poidog_HI Guam joined 3/13
    Posted March 25th, 2013 at 11:41 am | # |

    At our favorite Korean restaurant they serve the Rice drink as complimentary dessert, and seeing how my children loved this dessert I had to try it myself. WOW! I instantly liked it! I am so grateful you did an excellent job in making the video on how to make Sikhye. I was very intimidated in making the Rice drink, but following your video I was successful! Last night I made my first batch. It came out exactly how our favorite restaurant makes it! I can understand why you insist on using a pot with a thick metal bottom to cook the rice, I observed you don’t need to use too much heat to get fluffy rice. I prefer glass over plastic pitchers, but having 5 children makes glass pitchers a hazard. Can drinking Sikhye everyday be unhealthy for you? My wife thinks so because of the sugar content, what do you think?

    I tried the canned Sikhye and it tasted terrible! Nothing like homemade Rice Drink :-)

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted March 26th, 2013 at 12:27 pm | # |

      Wow I’m surprised and happy to hear that your children love the taste of shikhye because not many Korean children love it. : ) The only reason not to drink it everyday is because of the sugar. “I tried the canned Sikhye and it tasted terrible! Nothing like homemade Rice Drink” yes, that’s right!

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      • Poidog_HI Guam joined 3/13
        Posted March 29th, 2013 at 3:25 am | # |

        This morning I went to the local Korean supermarket to look for Malt Powder, and found a package that said it was Malt Powder but the contents looked like Malt barley in its raw form, can I use this instead? Do I need to put it in a blender to get it down to fine powder?

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  15. MeepKitty Florida joined 10/12
    Posted February 26th, 2013 at 8:35 pm | # |

    I love this drink. I make it for my boyfriend all the time and he drinks about a liter every 2 days!! It’s very important to let the fermentation process happen for at least 5 hours in my opinion. I once made it rushed, and only let the shiikhye to ferment for 3.5 hours and it tasted so bland!!! Thank you for the recipe Maangchi!! :) I would have never discovered how to make that can drink I spent like a dollar per a can for!!

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted February 26th, 2013 at 9:24 pm | # |

      You are the queen of shikhye making! : )

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  16. swiedom saratoga springs joined 5/12
    Posted May 19th, 2012 at 10:05 pm | # |

    Doesn’t boiling the liquid in the end kill any beneficial bacteria in the drink? Thanks so much!!!

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  17. SueBear84 Annandale joined 11/11
    Posted November 16th, 2011 at 1:34 pm | # |

    Hello~~~..
    I know this question sounds silly but what is Malted Bailey Powder in Korean~?…

    Thank you.

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    • eskim0 houston, tx joined 8/12
      Posted August 11th, 2012 at 6:39 pm | # |

      Malted Barley Powder is 엿기름 :)

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  18. Xuxu China joined 10/11
    Posted October 7th, 2011 at 9:54 am | # |

    Hi Maangchi, I’m so excited to try this recipe but I don’t have rice cooker :( Can I just boil it in a pot? Thank you!

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  19. sl100048 Singapore joined 6/11
    Posted August 9th, 2011 at 11:13 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi,
    I personally LOVE shihye which I have indulged from my youth..
    Now I need to hand down the beautiful taste to my children. I would like to ask you why you put only 1 cup of rice into the malt power water instead of all cooked rice? Is there any reasons behind and can I put all of them at one go? Thanks for your reply. JY

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  20. AgnetaloveK Sweden joined 6/11
    Posted June 30th, 2011 at 2:18 pm | # |

    Hello
    I have a few questions

    1) Do you know if Barely malted powder is like the stuff Chinese use for their sikhye?

    2)After cooking the rice(before fermenting it) should the rice still be a little bit hard to chew on?

    3)After I fermented the rice the water tasted like rice water and I didn’t sense anything special with the smell. What did I do wrong during this process?

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    • Poidog_HI Guam joined 3/13
      Posted March 29th, 2013 at 3:15 am | # |

      I used the Chinese Malt Powder for this recipe and it came out great!

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  21. dragon_hi Honolulu joined 6/11
    Posted June 28th, 2011 at 5:30 am | # |

    Aloha Maangchi,
    I made the rice drink today and it turn out good, only when I add sugar in I’m not sure what the taste of the drink. Is it suppose taste little bit sweet? And the drink can last for how long when I put in refridgerator? Mahalo

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 28th, 2011 at 8:31 am | # |

      Aloha! : )
      yes, it is supposed to be a little sweet. You can keep it for 4-7 days in the fridge. Don’t forget it will still ferment in the fridge. I usually finish eating it in a few days after making.

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  22. jemalah Canada joined 6/11
    Posted June 17th, 2011 at 12:15 am | # |

    hi maangchi

    thanks for your generous heart!!!!
    i am trying to reduce refined (white/brown) sugar as much as possible….so…for the sikhae…can we use honey or agave nectar or maple syrup…etc…or even raw sugar?

    thank you!!!
    p.s. same question for other korean dishes requiring white/brown sugar

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 17th, 2011 at 9:09 am | # |

      Raw sugar sounds good to me because it won’t change the flavor of shikhye.

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  23. mokpochica Michigan joined 1/09
    Posted April 8th, 2011 at 3:08 pm | # |

    I am so happy right now having two large containers of shikhye in my fridge. It is delicious and a hit with everyone. Maybe after the kids are asleep tonight I will take a nice hot shower, make a funny towel hat for myself and then drink a big glass of shikhye so I can pretend I am at a jjimjilbang.

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  24. Toto Bonn, Germany joined 6/10
    Posted October 17th, 2010 at 2:17 pm | # |

    I can just pour 6 cups of water in my rice cooker. is it enough for sikhye when I use it or should I use a bigger basin?

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  25. Marisol Malaysia joined 8/10
    Posted September 19th, 2010 at 8:15 pm | # |

    This morning I checked my sikhye, it seems done and smell good also, now I already boil it and waiting for the sikhye to turn cool and put in refrigerator, after fermented some of the rice will float on the surface of sikhye,the taste of the rice also good. I am using brown sugar so the colour of the sikhye a little bit brownish than what you display on website video. Thanks Maangchi.

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    • joeyng89 Malaysia joined 1/11
      Posted March 22nd, 2011 at 1:12 pm | # |

      ahh~ Marisol i see u’re from Malaysia too? can i know where did u get the barley malt powder? :)

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  26. Marisol Malaysia joined 8/10
    Posted September 19th, 2010 at 11:51 am | # |

    Dear Maangchi,
    I am fermenting the barley malt powder water with sugar and cooked rice
    on the electrical stove, I hope it will success. Thanks so much for the recipe, cann’t wait to try the drink.

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  27. Arakaki California joined 9/10
    Posted September 18th, 2010 at 1:26 pm | # |

    I am new to your site and love it!!! I tried sikhye in a korean restaurant..<3 it!! It had a ginger flavor which was good.

    I'm in the process of fermenting my rice with the barley water. I'm sure I'll be making this again. To save time, can I make and store my clear malted water in the refrigerator the day before?

    Thanks so much…

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  28. chocostarrr joined 7/10
    Posted July 25th, 2010 at 11:46 pm | # |

    that looks delicious~!
    how long did it take you to make that though?

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  29. carlam joined 7/10
    Posted July 21st, 2010 at 5:17 pm | # |

    Can this recipe be made with Brown Short Grain rice??

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted July 23rd, 2010 at 4:14 pm | # |

      I would use white rice.

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    • jlove212 United States joined 11/12
      Posted November 4th, 2012 at 1:43 am | # |

      brown rice is rice with the skin still on it so it would make the rice a little course instead of soggy like its supposed to be. it would also make it a little harder to chew
      ^ ( sorry for the lack of better words)

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  30. Toto Bonn, Germany joined 6/10
    Posted July 15th, 2010 at 5:06 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi!
    I really love this drink. I got it just ready at a Korean Store. Unfortunately I can`t find the malt powder so I wanted to ask whether I can just use Boricha (Barley tea) and grind it or would that be a bad idea?
    Thank you

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  31. monivela joined 12/09
    Posted June 28th, 2010 at 8:51 pm | # |

    Hi Maangchi…

    I had this drink after a Korean dinner at a restaurant, they called it “rice punch” I believe it was the same. I noticed the flavor of ginger in the drink and really enjoyed the ginger flavor added to the drink.

    At what point can I add the ginger? Perhaps when the mixture is on the stove top to cook the ginger?

    Thank you for your assistance….

    ~Moni

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    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08
      Posted June 29th, 2010 at 1:23 pm | # |

      Moni,
      If you want to add ginger, add it right before step 10.

      Step 10: Add 1 cup of sugar and bring to a boil.

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  32. FK07 joined 6/10
    Posted June 8th, 2010 at 12:58 am | # |

    I bought the Malted Bailey Powder in US and I made the rice drink successfully. Thank you very much for your recipe.

    Now I’m in my country, Vietnam. I went to the Korean market, they said they didnt have that powder. However, they have other package to make the rice drink. It looks like the bailey or rice seeds, but I dont know how to make it :(
    Can you help me?
    Thanks a lot.

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