Starter culture

Nuruk 누룩

nuruk (Korean makgeolli starter culture: 누룩)

You’ll need this starter culture to make makgeolli (Korean rice liquor:막걸리). It’s made from a dough made of coarsely-ground grain and water naturally inoculated with bacteria, fungi, yeast, and lactic acid bacteria. It jump-starts the fermentation process and helps you make a delicious fermented beverage.

It’s available in Korean grocery stores, usually on the shelf next to malt powder or mung bean starch in the grain section.

Recipes that use starter culture (nuruk):


  1. Kim Yunmi United States joined 7/12 & has 30 comments

    Me being Mi and all… Kinda wanted a recipe for Nuruk itself. ’cause I conquered soy sauce, made my own Kimchi (though still trying to find Eomma’s Kimchi which is difficult), made my own Makgeolli–trying to make Soju too… so I figure making Nuruk can’t be that much more difficult.

  2. Cassandre France joined 1/14 & has 8 comments

    Hello Maangchi

    Can I use nuruk to make natto or 된장 ? Or it needs to be rice straw ? If so, can you tell me how to say rice straw in korean please ?
    Thank you :)

    • Kim Yunmi United States joined 7/12 & has 30 comments

      No. They are different things. Nuruk has:
      2,6-Dimethoxybenzoquinone (2,6-DMBQ), also found in fermented wheat germ extract.[11] Microorganisms present in nuruk include Aspergillus, Rhizopus, and yeasts.[2][7] Together with yeast, nuruk is used in rice alcohol production in Korea, as it provides the enzyme amylase.[3]

      While Doenjang contains: Aspergillus oryzae and Bacillus subtilis

      Doenjang takes a lot longer to make. I would think you would want to correct flavor profile and to do the long process of making soy sauce with the blocks to make doenjang. If you aren’t sure you can make stable blocks of Doenjang through that method, I’d mix some store-bought Cheongukjang and a good Doenjang with the soy beans.

      Do not use Nuruk.

  3. Irisheyesofblue Ohio joined 4/17 & has 2 comments

    Could you use the leftovers once you make makeogeolli I have made makeogelli twice and this time I kept the “rice remains” with the nurak in it I bought online. I kept it In my fridge for several days but it is crumbly like nurak . If I dried in my machine it It seems very similar in look to the original Nurak, if I did it below 110 the yeast would not die??
    I wonder if it would have enough wheat elements to work?

  4. Claire73 Malaysia joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi, i wanna try to made makgeolli, however i cant get nuruk. I even search some global online store bt they nt provide international shipping. May i know how to made nuruk? So i can made it at home. Thx

  5. maxkopf Rome, Italy joined 9/16 & has 1 comment

    Hi maangchi, I have these two packages: the first is 15g powdered rice Koji starter (enough to make 2 babatches of 2.5 lbs. koji each. Aspergillus oryzae and rice flour).
    The second is a pack of one pound of AMYLASE ENZYMES FORMULA (0.1-0.3 teaspoons per gallon to convert starches into fermentable sugars).
    I can use the second as a starter?

    See full size image

    • Kim Yunmi United States joined 7/12 & has 30 comments

      I don’t think it’s quite the same thing, but the Amylase is close. Nuruk, however, contains more than just the amylase. Also has yeast and other bacteria starters in it through the process of making it. Koji is good for making sake, but not soju.

  6. yun-shil South Carolina joined 8/16 & has 1 comment

    I found an unopened bag of nuruk in my pantry. It expired 2012. Can I still use it?

  7. Do you know if there are any stores who will ship to Canada. I’ve been looking everywhere for this stuff and it doesn’t look like you can buy it online here. I tried Hmart and they only ship within the US and the canadian site doesn’t let you buy anything. The only place I can find it is on Ebay and they want way too much.

  8. HAS Australia joined 6/10 & has 8 comments

    Hi maangchi, im so excited to see your makkoli recipe! Im a die hard makkoli fans! And now i can make it yay! But…got a problem finding nuruk from local korean mart. Do you know of any shop in melb area that might have nuruk?i tried to find the ad from your link but couldnt find it?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,045 comments

      It is sold at a Korean grocery store. This is a list of Korean grocery stores in Australia.

    • chansookim61 philippines joined 5/17 & has 1 comment

      hello everybody am 56yo korean american recalling from childhood memory my mother used to make nuruk and rice wine, she used wheat after soakjng into the water almost one day and drain it hit with stick and steam, wrap with cloth keep it in warm place one day, and dry it under shade area it become nuruk. i want to give you the main essential things about nuruk it is white bacterial fungus. the rice, wheat, and barley can acquire white bacterial fungus. these white bacterial fungus is main agent to make sugar and alcohol, i have been researching how to make nuruk or similar things nobody say about how to make nuruk accurately, probably if i used korean language i might find more accurate information. nuruk is no longer mysterious secret recipe, you can make nuruk as long as nuruk acquires white grayish or blackish fungus thats the main point. if you have any korean friend request them to research more in korean. whether you steam or roast or make dough it will serve the function of nuruk. the ifugao in the philippines (cordillera mountain ethnic people) also make bubot, after roasting glutinous rice they mix the powder of certain root crop from the mountain make round cake while drying up it acquires blackish fungus, the ifugao rice wine also have unique taste they roast before mixing with the bubot they roast rice almost burning level. amount of wine is too little compare to japanese sake or korean rice wine but after draining the original wine they add much sugar and water let it fermented. i hope it can be helpful for everybody. Thank you.

    • imseon Townsville joined 7/17 & has 1 comment

      Did you succeed in buying nuruk in Australia? I am in Townsville and trying to find some.

  9. FusionKnight Minnesota, USA joined 10/10 & has 1 comment

    Homebrew stores like Northern Brewer ( should sell things like Koji Spores (Aspergillus oryzae), Lactobacillus Bacteria, and Beer Yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae), in addition to citric acid powder, and other ingredients you may with to use.

    Here is a PubMed article analyzing the contents of Korean Nuruk:

    • Kim Yunmi United States joined 7/12 & has 30 comments

      Koji is not the same thing as Nuruk. Nuruk contains yeast plus other things. If you want to make sake, sure, use Koji, but it’s not the same thing. What you need is all of the bacteria in question in the right balance and by that time it’s just cheaper to buy the Nuruk.

  10. kitukwfyer Tennessee joined 5/14 & has 1 comment

    Hello Maangchi!

    I’m just curious about the amazon link– As far as I can tell it’s JUST the enzyme amylase, which means it doesn’t contain any of the fungi, lactobacilli, or other bacterias. So all it would do is convert the starches in the rice to readily available sugars, which the yeast would then convert to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Is there another way to introduce the right fungi and bacteria to make makgeolli if we can’t find Nuruk?

    Thank you!

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