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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181 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! :)

    • fairygothmom Glen Cove, NY joined 1/11
      Posted March 17th, 2017 at 7:46 pm | # |

      It’s fermented, and if you leave any grain to ferment it will eventually develop alcohol. But step 10 is to boil it, which will stop the fermenting and probably cook off any tiny amount of alcohol that might have formed. If in doubt, this recipe may not be for you. You could try making it without the malt and only cooking the rice until it’s just shy of cooked – it should have a bit of a chew to it. It won’t be the same but it will be sweet and cold and most importantly non-alcoholic for certain. ;)

  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

    • 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.

  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!

  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! :)

  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.

    • 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.

  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..

  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!!

    • 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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