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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187 Comments:

  1. mokpochica Michigan joined 1/09 & has 89 comments

    I am so happy right now having two large containers of shikhye in my fridge. It is delicious and a hit with everyone. Maybe after the kids are asleep tonight I will take a nice hot shower, make a funny towel hat for myself and then drink a big glass of shikhye so I can pretend I am at a jjimjilbang.

  2. Toto Bonn, Germany joined 6/10 & has 34 comments

    I can just pour 6 cups of water in my rice cooker. is it enough for sikhye when I use it or should I use a bigger basin?

  3. Marisol Malaysia joined 8/10 & has 8 comments

    This morning I checked my sikhye, it seems done and smell good also, now I already boil it and waiting for the sikhye to turn cool and put in refrigerator, after fermented some of the rice will float on the surface of sikhye,the taste of the rice also good. I am using brown sugar so the colour of the sikhye a little bit brownish than what you display on website video. Thanks Maangchi.

  4. Marisol Malaysia joined 8/10 & has 8 comments

    Dear Maangchi,
    I am fermenting the barley malt powder water with sugar and cooked rice
    on the electrical stove, I hope it will success. Thanks so much for the recipe, cann’t wait to try the drink.

  5. Arakaki California joined 9/10 & has 1 comment

    I am new to your site and love it!!! I tried sikhye in a korean restaurant..<3 it!! It had a ginger flavor which was good.

    I'm in the process of fermenting my rice with the barley water. I'm sure I'll be making this again. To save time, can I make and store my clear malted water in the refrigerator the day before?

    Thanks so much…

  6. chocostarrr joined 7/10 & has 2 comments

    that looks delicious~!
    how long did it take you to make that though?

  7. carlam joined 7/10 & has 1 comment

    Can this recipe be made with Brown Short Grain rice??

  8. Toto Bonn, Germany joined 6/10 & has 34 comments

    Hi Maangchi!
    I really love this drink. I got it just ready at a Korean Store. Unfortunately I can`t find the malt powder so I wanted to ask whether I can just use Boricha (Barley tea) and grind it or would that be a bad idea?
    Thank you

  9. monivela joined 12/09 & has 1 comment

    Hi Maangchi…

    I had this drink after a Korean dinner at a restaurant, they called it “rice punch” I believe it was the same. I noticed the flavor of ginger in the drink and really enjoyed the ginger flavor added to the drink.

    At what point can I add the ginger? Perhaps when the mixture is on the stove top to cook the ginger?

    Thank you for your assistance….

    ~Moni

  10. FK07 joined 6/10 & has 2 comments

    I bought the Malted Bailey Powder in US and I made the rice drink successfully. Thank you very much for your recipe.

    Now I’m in my country, Vietnam. I went to the Korean market, they said they didnt have that powder. However, they have other package to make the rice drink. It looks like the bailey or rice seeds, but I dont know how to make it :(
    Can you help me?
    Thanks a lot.

  11. Aislinn21 Boise, ID joined 5/10 & has 2 comments

    Help!
    I dont think my rice cooker is big enough.
    Can I reuse the rice or is there a different way to do this?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,724 comments

      yes,it’s possible to make shikhye without using a rice cooker, especially when you make large quantities.

      Keep it on the stove with low heat and when it reaches hot temperature (more than 40 Celsius), turn the heat off. Then reheat it again when it cools down (about 30 Celsius).

      You will have to keep an eye on it. Don’t let it boil over. If it’s too hot, the rice grains in shikhye will not be fermented.

      Good luck with your shikhye making!!

  12. aqua joined 3/10 & has 3 comments

    Hi! So I finally decided to make this and I bought a package similar to yours that said “malt flour (fine)” but what I found was that it was not flour-like and had more coarse pieces in it. As a result, when I added the water, it did not look like what you had. Here are two pictures: (did I buy the wrong package ?)
    http://i42.tinypic.com/13yj978.jpg
    http://i42.tinypic.com/2dgmbeg.jpg

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,724 comments

      yeah, the package says it’s fine malt powder but it looks coarse in the second photo. Don’t worry much about it. It’s just wrong translation.
      Follow the directions in the recipe, then you will make good shikhye! : )
      Put the mixture of water and coarse barley malt flakes into a strainer and wait for water to drain out. Throw away the stuff in the strainer. Then wait until the fine sediments are sunk on the bottom. You need only clear water to make shikhye.

  13. Brian_Montoya Colorado Springs,Colorado joined 12/09 & has 14 comments

    this is probably a stupid question, but is it possible to make shikye without a rice cooker?

    • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,724 comments

      Of course it’s possible to make shikhye without using a rice cooker, especially when you make large quantities.
      Keep in mind only one thing keep the temperature warm about 40 Celsius. If it’s too hot, the rice grains in shikhye will not be fermented.

      • Brian_Montoya Colorado Springs,Colorado joined 12/09 & has 14 comments

        so should i just keep it on the stove with the heat barely on and keep checking the temp.?

        oh, and btw, thanks so much for your reply hon, i love your recipes, especially your kimchi, its simply the best, ive tried so many other recipes and none of them are as good or as easy to make, it comes out perfect everytime!!

        • Maangchi New York City joined 8/08 & has 11,724 comments

          yes, you are right.
          Keep it on the stove with low heat and when it reaches hot temperature (more than 40 Celsius), turn the heat off. Then reheat it again when it cools down (about 30 Celsius)
          You will have to keep an eye on it. Don’t let it boil over.
          Good luck with your shikhye making!!

  14. domesticjoy joined 3/10 & has 1 comment

    Wow, wonderful delicious sihkye, mine came out delicious! I have been enjoying it nightly for dessert, I love the malted barley flavor, and the sweetness with the ice cubes floating in it. I’m making another batch right now for my nieces, they are going to LOVE it as a drink to go with their salty snacks while they study. So much better than the canned stuff, thanks Maangchi for making this video and recipe available for me to make it!

  15. aqua joined 3/10 & has 3 comments

    Hi maangchi!

    I recently had some cereal drink my korean friend gave me, however, I don’t think it is sikhye. Can you confirm what this drink is and whether the process of making it is similar? http://www.wjfood.com/beverage/morningrice.asp

    Thanks!

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