Rice punch

Sikhye 식혜

Sikhye (rice punch) is a traditional sweet Korean drink made of fermented malt and rice. As the rice ferments, the grains turn white and become spongy, releasing their starch into the liquid, which turns light amber. The punch is never fermented long enough to become alcoholic, and it’s often served as a dessert in Korean restaurants. It has a pleasantly malty aftertaste.

It’s also sold in cans at Korean grocery stores, but the homemade version has a more intense malt flavor than anything you can get in a can. Sikhye is usually served cold, but when you make it at home, you can enjoy it right after boiling it, or even freeze it into slush!

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This recipe uses a rice cooker to ferment the barley malt powder water and rice, but if you don’t have one you can do it in a pot on the stove. Just keep the temperature between 122°F and 150°F  (50°C to 65°C) for 4 hours, until some of the rice is floating. This is the traditional method I show in the larger batch of sikhye in my first cookbook. The point is to keep it at a warm temperature without cooking it, so the enzyme amalyse can help the starch from the rice turn into sugar.

Ingredients

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Garnish (optional)

You will need a 10 cup rice cooker with a “warming” setting.

Directions

  1. Combine the barley malt powder and 14 cups cold water in a  large bowl. Stir well with a whisk or a wooden spoon.
  2. Let it sit for 2 to 3 hours until the powder settles on the bottom.

Make rice with a rice cooker:

  1. Wash the rice, changing the water a couple of times and finally draining as much water as you can.
  2. Add ¾ cup water to the rice, put it in the rice cooker, turn it on and start cooking.

Add the barley malt water to the rice & let it ferment:

  1. When the rice is done, add the clear malt water from the bowl by gently pouring it in. Be careful in moving the bowl and pouring, so you don’t disturb the dregs on the bottom.
  2. Stir the rice with a wooden spoon and break it up a bit.
  3. Set the rice cooker to warm. Let it sit and ferment.
  4. Stir the rest of the 4 cups of water into the leftover barley malt sediment. Leave it to sit and settle while the rice ferments in the rice cooker.

Check the rice:

  1. Open the rice cooker after 4 hours and check to see if some of the rice grains are floating.
  2. About dozens grains should be floating. If not floating yet, let it ferment for another hour.

Make sikhye:

  1. Pour the hot sikhye out of the rice cooker into a large pot.
  2. Gently pour in the clear malt water that has been separating while the sikhye ferments and discard the sediment. You will get about 3 cups of clear malty water.
  3. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup sugar (if used) and mix well.

Serve hot:

  1. Ladle about 1½ cup of sikhye into a small bowl or cup and serve it with a spoon. You can drink it like tea or just drink the liquid and eat the rice with a spoon.

Serve cold:

  1. Pour the hot sikhye though a strainer over a large bowl to gather all the rice. Rinse the rice under cold running water and transfer it to an airtight container with some cold water. Cover and refrigerate.
  2. Cool the hot sikhye water and transfer to a glass jar. Refrigerate it.
  3. When you want to serve, ladle about 1½ cup cold sikhye water to a small bowl and gently stir in about 2 tablespoons rice.
  4. Garnish with pine nuts and jujube pieces if you use. Serve with a spoon.

How to make slush:

  1. Freeze the rice punch until it’s half frozen (8 cups of sikhye usually takes 5 to 6 hours).
  2. Or make granita by adding some clear sikhye water into an airtight container and freezing it solid.
  3. To serve, ladle out icy cold sikhye slushy and/or scrape frozen sikhye with a fork, and stir in about 2 tablespoons rice. Add garnish (if you use) and serve with a spoon.

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194 Comments:

  1. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    gabieolie,
    yes, you can make rice using your rice cooker. Your rice cooker is for 5 cups? I don’t think it’s a good idea of making sikhye with the rice cooker unless you make 4-5 cups sikhye. ; )

  2. gabieolie& has 14 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I’m about to make your sikhye recipe. I still have couple of questions: 1. can make the rice in my rice cooker? 2. my rice cooker is not as big as yours – it says 5 cups – does it mean that I have to cut the recipe in half or do I just follow the recipe as is? Thank you for answering my questions.

  3. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    gabieolie,
    oh, that means after you ferment the rice, I said, you should keep it in the refrigerator. When you serve sikhye, put some sikhye juice in a bowl and some rice. At that time if you want your all rice grains float on the top of sikhye juice, add a little bit of sugar and mix it. Then you will see all rice grains will be floating.

  4. gabieolie& has 14 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    I’m going to try to make sikhye tomorrow, but I don’t understand your last tip – “If you like all your rice grains to float, add 1 tbs of sugar and mix it right before serving it.” Do I mix the sugar with rice and then add to the sikhye water or do I add the sugar to sikhye water and then add the rice? I like my sikhye with floating rice : ) Thank you for the recipe!

  5. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    linda,
    If it tastes sour, it means the sikhye is too fermented.

  6. hello maangchi~

    so i tried the oven and it did ferment. however, my recent batch came out tasting “sshi uh” or sour. I did leave it ferment about an hour or so more than four hours so that might have an affect? Or i closed the top of my pot when i was fermenting it? I don’t know but i threw it away and starting a new batch today. I’ll tell you how it goes in my oven~

  7. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Christina,
    no, sikhye does not contain alcohol.

  8. Hi Maangchi,

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful recipes. I tested few of your recipes and it tasted wonderful.
    I love Sikhye and I have one question about it. Does it contain any alcohol after it is fermented? Is it the same as chinese rice wine?
    I’m pregnant with a child now but at the same time would love to try this recipe. Thank you for all your hard work.

  9. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Linda,
    You can use sweet rice for sikhye. Some people use sweet rice to make sikhye.

    I have never used my oven to make sikhye, but I think fermenting sikhye using an oven is a brilliant idea. Why not! You must be a very smart person! But the temperature should set under 60 degrees Celsius. Let me know the result. If it works well, we should share this precious tip with others. : )

    Yes, whole fermenting process is important for rice and barley malt water. If you want to discuss this more, please leave your question here https://www.maangchi.com/talk/forum/general-discussion

  10. Thanks for the recipe~! I was wondering if there was a difference in using short grain rice or sweet rice (chap sal).

    Also, my rice cooker only does 3.5 cups at a time. So can I just ferment the rice in the oven at 140 degrees farenheit (which is 60 degrees celsius) or should I just set a pot on low? Last time I made this, I just fermented the rice with as much liquid I could fit into my rice cooker and felt it came out fine. I just wanted to know if I was doing it wrong.

    Last question: The whole fermenting process is important for the rice only or also for the malt water?

    Thanks for your help~ Linda

  11. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    Natalie,
    Wonderful! I think you will make sikhye very often from now. : ) You must be missing your grandmother!

  12. Maangchi,
    You don’t know how ECSTATIC I was when I saw this recipe! THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! I can’t wait to try it! My grandma used to make this for me on my birthdays because it was my favorite. Unfortunately, I never asked her to teach me. I also craved this when I was pregnant but the canned ones were just not the same. You’re the greatest!

  13. Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 12,047 comments

    deborah,
    I don’t know much about it.
    You can leave your message on the forum to discuss it if you want. Someone else may give you better answer.

    Sikhye will never be fermented at room temperature. Pleasee follow the recipe. The temperature should be 60 degree celsius

  14. deborah Toronto, ON joined 4/09 & has 47 comments

    maangchi,
    i guess with the different types of sweetner, it would be up to us to adjust the level of sweetness. i would have thought that there must be some type of sugar because how else would the mix ferment? maybe i’m wrong?

    how long do you suggest to let it ferment at around room temperature? i wouldn’t know when it would be done…

    thanks again!

  15. hey! was surfing the net and came across your youtube… heex… i actually went to find de barley malt powder in the korean mart near my house and i failed! oh i’m staying in singapore btw… they only keep in cans… T_T
    have nv tried sikhye before but u made it look so yummy tats why i wanted to try making it myself!

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