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. Dominique Echard& has 36 comments

    Hello Maangchi,

    I stumbled across your kimchi recipe on You Tube and thought you were a great teacher. Asian cuisine has always been a love of mine and it is so fun trying new techniques and ingredients. From You Tube I found this site and I bookmarked it immediately. Kimchi has never appealed to me in the past because I am a spice wimp but now that I am older and tastes have changed I want to try your recipe. Thank you so much for sharing yourself with all of us. I am a cook also, writing a vegan cookbook, and know how much work it is to do what you are doing. You have a great camera personality, too! Keep up the great work, I can’t wait to try everything I can :D

    Dominique

  2. Anonymous& has 1 comment

    I wanted to thank you for this recipe. It brought back bitter sweet memories of my mom. My mom was a great cook who did not write down her recipes. So finding this recipe and making the drink brought back memories of my childhood. More importantly, my daughter and I were able to share fond memories of my mom.

  3. Thank you for posting these recipes and videos! I can’t wait to go try it now. :)

  4. Hi Maangchi
    Thanks its was good and my friend enjoy it as well,her little one keep asking for more..
    thanks

  5. Ataciara& has 2 comments

    I love shikhae!! ^^ I can’t wait to try this recipe~ it looks so delicious~~

  6. I forgot to ask if I don’t use my fermented rice in my drink, could I reuseuse the fermented rice next time when I make the rice drink? Thanks.

  7. Thank you so much for teaching us how to make the rice drink. This is what I have been looking for for 14 years. When I was pregnant, I felt nauseous all the time and one day, my husband took me to a Korean restaurant that gave me a glass of this rice drink and I could drink it just fine. I felt so good drinking it that it made an impression on me. Later on I did some research trying to learn how to make this drink but could not. I had a Korean friend that kind understood what I describe and made some for me after I deliver my baby. It tasted good but not quite as the same. May be it did not have enough of the delicate sour taste like I remembered. I am tryiing to make today but thought that may be I should drop a note to let you know how grateful I am. I have a thermal cooker, so, I will try to keep it in my thermal cooker and see if it works as well. Thank you for letting us know the temperature should be around 60C.

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

    Kim,
    Your mother must be good at cooking!
    Yes, you can use brown rice, too.

  9. Maangchi my mother use to serve this drink when I was a little child.I never got the chance to learn any of the Korean recipes from her so this means alot to me, Thank you soooo much for the chance to learn them. Her name is Chong, I was wondering can you use brown rice instead of white rice? You are wonderful and I love your recipes. Keep up the good work and I hope good fortune and blessings for you. Kim

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

    Flower,
    Interesting! The one made with pineapple juice sounds good to me, too! : )

  11. Flower Venezuela joined 3/09 & has 10 comments

    Hi Maangchi, You may be surprised to know that in my country Venezuela, we have three types of beverages made with rice. is chicha is a milk-based, another is made with fermented pineapple water this is my favorite, and something very similar to this that you prepare which is usually given to babies to drink to cool in hot weather or any illness or bad digestion problems, I also like this so much that is fresh.

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

    gabieolie,
    wow, congratulation! You made it!
    I see you made a lot of effort.
    Spicy pork bbq recipe will be posted someday.

  13. gabieolie& has 14 comments

    Hi Maangchi,

    The sikhye turned out really good! I spent a lot of time straining the liquid because I like clear sikhye : ) I used coffee filter instead of paper towel to strain the liquid. My family loved it, too. Thank you for another great recipe! BTW, when are you going post the recipe for spicy pork bbq? I’ll be waiting!

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

    Gabieolie
    yes, adding dried anchovies to non-spicy kongnamulguk is even better! The reason I did not use dried anchovies for the recipe was to make vegetarian soup. Yeah, I see almost 87 percent of voters have preferred spicy kongnamulguk so far, but 17 percent voters like non-spicy version!

  15. Gabieolie& has 14 comments

    Hi Maangchi,
    Thank you always for promptly answering all of our questions. I’m going to borrow a bigger rice cooker to make sikhye. I going to make kongnamul soup and kongnamul side dish, too. I prefer the non-spicy soup. I think I’m a minority on this since your voters seem to favor the spicy version. I was wondering, can I put anchovies in the non-spicy soup, too? I’m not a vegetarian, so I just want the best flavor possible. : ) Thank you!

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