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. maanchi,
    was curious to know where you bought the rectangula pitchers

  2. I just discovered your channel on YouTube by chance and I’m very glad I did! I haven’t tried the recipes yet but from all the wonderful comments, I can tell they will be yummy! Thanks for posting all of these recipes! I’m not Korean so I don’t have the opportunity to learn Korean recipes from my family. I have wondered how to make sikhae since I had the stuff in the can. THANK YOU!!

  3. dear maangchi. i love your website :) i just want to know about shikye storage. how long can you keep the shikye in the refrigerator. does it have a time limit?
    thanks

  4. Hi Maangchi,

    Thanks so much for this site. My mom tried to teach me to make Korean food but I just had a hard time learning from her. I just didn’t get it because she doesn’t use measurements. But thanks to the way you break it down, you make it look so easy.

    Wondering about the 식혜’s rice. My mom uses 찹쌀(sweet rice). Does the recipe change if I use that instead? Thanks!

  5. Dear Maangchi,

    I forgot to put sugar into the warm pot with the barley malt liquid for the fermenting process. Is the rice still usable? Can I add sugar into the liquid while boilin????? Thank you so much for the recipe. You are the best cook :D.

  6. omg i luv this recipe XXD but 1 thing i find difficult how do u cook rice on a pot instead of a rice cooker till its fluffy??o.o btw thnx again for the vid!=D

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

      yeah, as I posted in the video, make rice this way using a pot.
      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!

  7. Hi Maangchi,

    Thank you so much for all these recipes. The videos really help a lot. Is it OK to store the rice and the drink together in the same container?

    Thanks again!

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

      Yes, it will be ok if you eat it in a few days. However, be aware that rice keeps fermenting when it’s not separated from the juice. So the color of your rice punch will change and might not be clear and grayish.

  8. Maangchi,

    Thank you so much for all your hard work on this website! It is such a fantastic resource. I just finished making sikhye for my parents and it tastes delicious. I’m excited to try your other recipes!

    Thanks,
    ES

  9. Jung-Suk Ryu& has 1 comment

    Greetings from Ottawa. My girlfriend and I always use your site to cook something new and exciting. My friends and colleagues think that I am the best cook ever! Please keep it up! JS

  10. hi Maangchi,
    Wow this dessert looks so oriental and special,too. I have a question. I’ve never seen barley malt in the market, but only had a glimpse of whole grain barley once. Does there exist any difference between them? Or may I substitute this simply with ground barley? I wonder how it might turn out. Thank you so much for reading this.
    best regards from Cecile

  11. hi maangchi,

    i always follow your recipes, n cant wait for more. i want to try this sikhye recipes. it looks tasty and refreshing the hot day. but I’m curious about one thing, for it’s being fermented, does it contain alcohol (i dont consume alcohol)? thanks maangchi! btw, is there any chance you will visit singapore or indonesia and do meet up? i would love to meet you there.

  12. hi maangchi,
    just wanted to thank you for taking the time to post all these wonderful recipes!

    i made your sikhye and followed your directions to the tee. for me the rice started floated to the top a little after 2 hours which is alot less than the 4-5 hour you said. does that mean it’s done? and i should take it out? i don’t want to cook too long either.

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

      I don’t know the answer because I have never seen that rice was floating after 2 hours. Rice fermentation usually starts at least 4 hours after. how did you like it? Did it turn out delicious? Did you use your rice cooker? If the taste is ok, it will be ok. That’s all I can say.

  13. Greetings from Germany, Maangchi!

    Ok, 3 questions:
    Can I use maltose instead of malt powder?
    If yes, then how about the amount?
    Can I use a “thermo pot” for the fermentation process?
    It(the pot) is huge and just screaming “I can do the job!”. ^o^

    We only use that pot for keeping soups hot,so I think it would be at least 60°C?

    Actually I’m Chinese. Not that they sell thermo pots in Germany °o°

    Thanks for all your recipes!

  14. hi maangchi! i just bought 엿기름, but it’s different from the one you used.. yours is 엿기름가루, like powder, while mine is like, husk? can i still use it with your recipe?

  15. How big is your rice cooker and what kind is it? I would like to eventually get one to make sikhye. Any response would be great.

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