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Sweet Rice Punch (Sikhye 식혜)

Sikhye 식혜 is a traditional rice punch that is popularly served on Korean New Years (Seollal) and other festive holidays. This sweet drink is filled with fermented malt and rice with floating rice on top and is made with a small amount of ingredients. It’s available from Korean supermarkets in cans but tastes quite different. At Jimjilbangs, they often serve cold Sikhye with cooked eggs at the snack bar which, surprising to some, is a popular combination! It can be served warm or cold.

Regional variations:

There are different variations for the regions in Korea. Andong Sikhye includes radishes, carrots and red pepper powder. Hobak-sikhye is broth with pumpkin, rice and malt. Yeonyeop-sikhye is created using a lotus leaf, in which the rice, sake and honey, is wrapped. 

What You Need to Know:

  • Sikhye 식혜 is known to help with digestion after eating a large meal. This is because amlyase is contained in the malt barley. It is served as a dessert in some restaurants and is especially good after a large feast, such as the one served on Korean New Years. It is also served at some Korean Barbecue restaurants.
  • It is a considered to be a good complimentary drink for Sujeonggwa.
  • Nursing mothers should not drink Sikhye because it is known to dry up breast milk.
  • Additionally Sikhye may be able to help regulate a person’s body temperature. It can make cold people feel warm and vice versa. 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups yeotkireum (엿기름) or milled malt barley
  • 18 cups water
  • 1 cup short grain rice
  • 3/4 ~ 1 cup sugar (this depends on your sweetness preference or can be left out altogether)
  • Garnish: pine nuts/dried jujubes/citron syrup/mint leaves (optional)

Directions

  1. Mix the barley malt powder and 14 cups of cold water in a  large bowl. Stir.
  2. Sit for 2 – 3 hours until the powder is on the bottom.

Make rice with a rice cooker (10 cup rice cooker):

  1. Clean the rice by rinsing several times with water.
  2. Add ¾ cup water to the rice.
  3. Put it in the rice cooker and turn on.

Add the barley malt water to the rice & give it time to ferment:

  1. Once the rice is cooked, add the clear malt water by carefully pouring it in. Make sure the residue at the bottom does not go in.
  2. Stir the rice.
  3. Set the rice cooker to warm and it will ferment.
  4. Stir the remaining 4 cups of water into the leftover barley malt powder at the bottom of the bowl. Let it sit.

Check the rice:

  1. After 4 hours check the rice.
  2. Approximately a dozen grains should be floating. If they are not floating, leave it to ferment for another hour.

Make sikhye:

  1. Pour the sikhye from the rice cooker into a large pot.
  2. Carefully pour in the clear malt water and throw out the residue. You should have about 3 cups of clear malt flavoured water.
  3. Put the lid on the pot and boil for 10 minutes. Add your chosen sugar measurement.

Serve hot:

  1. Ladle about 1½ cup of sikhye into a cup.
  2. It can be drunk like tea or with a spoon to eat the rice.

Serve cold:

  1. Strain the sikhye. Rinse the rice with cold water and place it in a container. Refrigerate.
  2. Cool the sikhye liquid and refrigerate it in a glass jar.
  3. To serve, ladle about 1½ cup cold sikhye in a large cup and add two spoonfuls of the rice.
  4. Garnish with your chosen garnish.

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Featured image source: © 2019/10/29,

Jennifer Marlton

I lived in Korea for the past two years while working as an English teacher. I have always loved writing and I enjoy exploring new cities. In Korea, my hobbies included swing dancing, KPOP dancing and singing in a Korean choir.

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