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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193 Comments:

  1. lady_nesa Chicago joined 3/10 & has 1 comment

    Hi there Maangchi!~
    I was wondering,
    about a year ago I visited Korea for the first time, and the family I stayed with took me to a beautiful restaurant. It seemed very unique in that it had traditional sliding doors, underground heating, and each room led outside instead of being one big building. They served a really delicious drink in a wooden cup that tasted sweet & had rice in it, but was room temperature(maybe because it was cold at night?). Could this have been sikhye or a different drink altogether?
    Thank you so much!~ :]

  2. leeemur SF Bay Area joined 7/09 & has 9 comments

    I love shikhye, but it’s so time consuming to make…
    I bought some bottled shikhye and canned shikhye from the supermarket, but it didn’t taste as good as the homemade ones… so I finally found time to make this and it is so worth it!!! So good and refreshing!! Thank you maangchi!

  3. lily5377& has 4 comments

    Hi Maangchi, you are the best. I’ve followed your recipe for the sikhye and it was so sucessful, I have some questions, yesterday i asked my brother to buy the malted powder and the rice from the Korean Supermarket, but he bought me the malted powder(i guess you know which one i’m talking about) which is not ground and he got me the sweet rice. can I use the sweet rice instead of the regular one? and can i use the malted powder which’s not ground?? Thanks for your help

  4. Jenny& has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi!
    Love all your videos…they’re very helpful.
    Sikhye is one of my all time favorite drink. I’m going try to make it but I have a few questions. Instead of cooking the rice the traditional way to make sikhye, can I cook the rice in a rice cooker? Can I refrigerate the rice together with the drink instead of refrigerating them separately? Also, if I want a darker color drink and stronger taste, would I use more malt powder and less water? Thank you!

    Jenny

    P.S. love your blog. Your backpacking story is inspirational…I would like to do that one day! ^_^

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,947 comments

      1.Yes, you can use your rice cooker to make rice for shikhye, but use less water than usual rice making. Rice grains should not be mushy.

      2.Yes, you don’t have to separate rice grains from the shikhye juice before keeping in the refrigerator.

      3. no, you don’t have to. The ratio of the ingredients for this recipe will make strong flavor of shikhye. If it’s too strong, you and add more water and sugar.

  5. Sofie& has 1 comment

    I finally made sikhye and it turned out great! Some minor adjustments on my part is cutting down some sugar and I had to strain the liquid at the end because there was still some starch floating around. Like Kim, my sikhye was more of a light tea color, but I don’t care because it tasted delicious! Thanks so much for sharing your recipes Maanchi! :) When it’s the right season for my market to stock on dried persimmons, I really want to try your Sujunggwa recipe next!

  6. Ally& has 1 comment

    Is there a difference between Pearl Barley Powder and Malt Barley Powder?

    • Sofie& has 1 comment

      Yes, because pearl barley powder has a different taste than malt barley powder. You need that malt flavor from the malt barley powder/flour. It’s a MUST to have the correct ingredients and to follow Maangchi’s recipe exactly because that’s how I successfully made mine. Good luck!

  7. Hi Maangchi,

    I tried using the whole package of the barley flour and used 13 cups of water. When I looked at it, it didn’t look like the color in your video. It had an orangeish color.

  8. Lily :D& has 3 comments

    Thank you so much, mine came out well, i only fermented it for 3 hours. but liek after iput it in the fridge and overnight there was like a little bit of powdery residue on the bottom should i leave that out of my drink or shake it?

  9. If I were to cut the recipe in half, would the times differ? I don’t want to make a HUGE amount and have it go to waste because I’m making this really for myself. Definitely do not think I can drink ALL of it within 7 days. =/ Thanks! Looking forward to trying the recipe out!

  10. hi maangchi

    for this recipe, are we suppose to use malt flour or malt powder? I’m planning to buy it online but I’m not sure which one to buy.

  11. im doing a project on north korea for my school. im so glad i found your recipe. i googled north korean dishes but i couldnt find much of anything that was not a good easyish recipe. thanks.

  12. Hi I am 12 years old and me and my boyfriend was making this for our mothers it turn out pretty good but it was sour in the begging and sweet in the end of the taste,, is that suppose to happen?? WE woke up around 6am and we got done around 3 or 4 Y does it take so long to make it. Can we buy this desert anywhere? in San Francisco.

  13. Kay& has 6 comments

    Dear maanchi onni,
    Thanks for your recipes again and today I am making jangjorim, oiji muchim and shikhye.
    I am still waiting for my barley malted power to sink down in the water and then I will ferment it with rice in the cooker.
    Can’t wait to taste it.
    Jangjorim and oiji were successful.
    Thank you so much again.
    From singapre
    Kay

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,947 comments

      wow,jangjorim and oiji muchim with rice, then shikhye for dessert, perfect! You made oijangajji! Cool! Email me the photos of them if you can. I would like to see them. : )
      Let me know how your shikhye turns out. Thank you!

      Jangjorim:
      https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/jangjorim

      oijangajji:
      https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/oijangajji

      shikhye:
      https://www.maangchi.com/recipe/sikhye

      • Kay& has 6 comments

        Dear Maangchi onni,

        I tried my Shikhye with brown sugar as I do not use any white sugar and it seems the taste is not exactly same as what I expected. Also, I did have a problem with fermenting it as my rice cooker is a medium sized one ( max 5 cups of rice) so I could not transfer all the barley mated powder water into the rice cooker but I had to leave quite a bit in a sauce pan. After the fermenting process, I poured the fermented liquid into this remainder and boiled it with some sugar.
        I only used 400g which was my original package.
        Rice was nice and fluffy and I reduced the quantity as well. I really enjoyed the burnt rice! I have not had it for a long time and it was just perfect!
        I will try it next time and will post it again.
        Thank you!
        Kind regards
        Kay
        P.S.where can I attach my photos please?

  14. Maangchi ssi,

    You are a GENIUS!!! OF COURSE! Sikhye water for crushed ice! EXCELLENT!!!!

    I noticed that this is how ALL the good jjim jil bangs (Korean bath houses) in Korea prepare and serve their shikhye. The sikhye ice is so delicious, refreshing, and very flat, just the way you made your ice.

    Thank you for this very important and detailed tip!

    Jane

  15. Hi Maangchi-ssi,

    It’s Jane again! Guess what? My mom and I made sikhye 2x this month with our similar recipes. It is so delicious, and definitely aids in digestion as you mentioned :-)

    We also made yakshik last night with raisins, pine nuts, jujubes, and chestnuts. I didn’t see yakshik in your list – is it something you are going to post later on? I think it would be great!

    Filming yakshik with a camera may be a little hard just because of all the heavy steaming and lifting though. Hahaha…hope to see how you make your yakshik so we can compare notes ^_^

    Jane

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