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. putri90 joined 5/15 & has 3 comments

    Hi maangchi.. can i make shikye without sugar? How long it last in the fridge?

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

      yes, you can make without sugar. It will naturally tastes a little sweet. You can keep for a week in the fridge. Good luck with your Korean cooking!

  2. ashleele1989 Anaheim, California, USA joined 5/14 & has 3 comments

    Hi Maangchi, thank you so so much for the great ( very thorough and clear) recipe for sikhye. I learnt about sikhye from your site and never hesitate to give it a try because of your detailing video clip. Before making my own sikhye, I have tried the drink from one of the best korean tofu house restaurant in my town called Kaju tofu house but their sikhye is really bad, overly sweet and all the rice sinks down to the bottom. I decided to make my own sikhye right after getting out of the restaurant. I followed your recipe carefully and try to read most of the comments to get more ideas about the drink. So, finally, i made it so successfully. I love to make my sikhye less sweet than usual so right before serving I can sprinkle a bit of sugar to the drink and then add the rice, amazingly all the rice float, i mean all of them float, none sinks down to the bottom. My sikhye has a unique aroma that i cannot describe, i believe the aroma comes from the barley malt and also the fermenting process with rice has made the smell more attractive. I love to cook korean food and i find your site’s recipes are great to try. I have made so far plenty dishes from your recipes. Thank you again for your great contribution

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

      It sounds like you made perfect shikhye! Yes, I like my shikhye less sweet with full malt flavor, too!
      “..right before serving I can sprinkle a bit of sugar to the drink and then add the rice, amazingly all the rice float,” yes, that’s right! Congratulations!

  3. sl100048 Singapore joined 6/11 & has 15 comments

    Hi Maangchi – I love your Shikhye recipe which is super easy. I am wondering how to make the cooked rice float a lot when serving as I tried twice which all cases the rice sank more than floating. Appreciate your advice on this. Have a great festive season.

    ps – I will be making this dessert for the New Year as my son is here from UK to spend time with us.

    Best, JY

  4. anastasialeehanbyul Seoul, South Korea joined 2/12 & has 2 comments

    Hi, Maangchi!
    Do you know by any chance exactly at what temperature should this mixture be kept to ferment successfully? I’m asking that because I found out that my rice cooker’s keep warm temperature is 70 C. This would be too high for making yogurt for example (I can adjust this temperature to 50 C). I was thinking that same applies in this case, and I need to lower the temperature, if I don’t maybe the rice won’t ferment properly. In any case I will try this recipe with lower temp first and see how it goes.

  5. saigelee nunapitchuk joined 6/13 & has 1 comment

    I tried making this and it didn’t work. I followed the recipe but 5 hours later the rice didn’t float. what did I do wrong?

    • Poidog_HI Guam joined 3/13 & has 7 comments

      The first time I made Sikhye it came out just like in the video, using a Korean Malt Powder I purchased from ebay. However because the malt powder was expensive I looked for an inexpensive alternative, and used a US made malt powder meant for baking or home beer brewing. I experienced the same results; the rice would not float to the surface even after 6 hours. I am going to go back to the previous malt powder I used. I found another seller who sells the barley malt in its raw form but one package is $18US! I found in my local Korean super market “Barley Malt Tea” I wonder if I could use that instead?

  6. Jensung Taguig City, Philippines joined 6/13 & has 2 comments

    I love this dessert very much. I first tasted this drink at a popular Korean resto here in PH called Sariwon Korean Bbq and it was love at first “taste”. Hihi. I think the prep time requires a lot of time but I might try this when I have plenty of time. I saw this “instant sikhye mix” at a Korean Mart which cost around $5 and I might buy one this week. (^_^)

    Thanks Maangchi for your recipes. I am really a fan of everything about korea expecially the food. My officemate thinks that I am a Korean in a Filipina body. Hahaha. That’s funny and I think he’s right. (^_^)

  7. Poidog_HI Guam joined 3/13 & has 7 comments

    At our favorite Korean restaurant they serve the Rice drink as complimentary dessert, and seeing how my children loved this dessert I had to try it myself. WOW! I instantly liked it! I am so grateful you did an excellent job in making the video on how to make Sikhye. I was very intimidated in making the Rice drink, but following your video I was successful! Last night I made my first batch. It came out exactly how our favorite restaurant makes it! I can understand why you insist on using a pot with a thick metal bottom to cook the rice, I observed you don’t need to use too much heat to get fluffy rice. I prefer glass over plastic pitchers, but having 5 children makes glass pitchers a hazard. Can drinking Sikhye everyday be unhealthy for you? My wife thinks so because of the sugar content, what do you think?

    I tried the canned Sikhye and it tasted terrible! Nothing like homemade Rice Drink :-)

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

      Wow I’m surprised and happy to hear that your children love the taste of shikhye because not many Korean children love it. : ) The only reason not to drink it everyday is because of the sugar. “I tried the canned Sikhye and it tasted terrible! Nothing like homemade Rice Drink” yes, that’s right!

  8. MeepKitty Florida joined 10/12 & has 9 comments

    I love this drink. I make it for my boyfriend all the time and he drinks about a liter every 2 days!! It’s very important to let the fermentation process happen for at least 5 hours in my opinion. I once made it rushed, and only let the shiikhye to ferment for 3.5 hours and it tasted so bland!!! Thank you for the recipe Maangchi!! :) I would have never discovered how to make that can drink I spent like a dollar per a can for!!

  9. swiedom saratoga springs joined 5/12 & has 1 comment

    Doesn’t boiling the liquid in the end kill any beneficial bacteria in the drink? Thanks so much!!!

  10. SueBear84 Annandale joined 11/11 & has 1 comment

    Hello~~~..
    I know this question sounds silly but what is Malted Bailey Powder in Korean~?…

    Thank you.

  11. Xuxu China joined 10/11 & has 2 comments

    Hi Maangchi, I’m so excited to try this recipe but I don’t have rice cooker :( Can I just boil it in a pot? Thank you!

  12. sl100048 Singapore joined 6/11 & has 15 comments

    Hi Maangchi,
    I personally LOVE shihye which I have indulged from my youth..
    Now I need to hand down the beautiful taste to my children. I would like to ask you why you put only 1 cup of rice into the malt power water instead of all cooked rice? Is there any reasons behind and can I put all of them at one go? Thanks for your reply. JY

  13. AgnetaloveK Sweden joined 6/11 & has 1 comment

    Hello
    I have a few questions

    1) Do you know if Barely malted powder is like the stuff Chinese use for their sikhye?

    2)After cooking the rice(before fermenting it) should the rice still be a little bit hard to chew on?

    3)After I fermented the rice the water tasted like rice water and I didn’t sense anything special with the smell. What did I do wrong during this process?

  14. dragon_hi Honolulu joined 6/11 & has 1 comment

    Aloha Maangchi,
    I made the rice drink today and it turn out good, only when I add sugar in I’m not sure what the taste of the drink. Is it suppose taste little bit sweet? And the drink can last for how long when I put in refridgerator? Mahalo

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

      Aloha! : )
      yes, it is supposed to be a little sweet. You can keep it for 4-7 days in the fridge. Don’t forget it will still ferment in the fridge. I usually finish eating it in a few days after making.

  15. jemalah Canada joined 6/11 & has 1 comment

    hi maangchi

    thanks for your generous heart!!!!
    i am trying to reduce refined (white/brown) sugar as much as possible….so…for the sikhae…can we use honey or agave nectar or maple syrup…etc…or even raw sugar?

    thank you!!!
    p.s. same question for other korean dishes requiring white/brown sugar

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