Sikhye - it’s a famous Korean dessert beverage.
Chance are, if you dined at a traditional Korean restaurant, you’ve been served a small bowl of Sikhye towards the end of the meal.
(I always finish mine too quickly – staring at others and contemplating whether to ask the staff for seconds… heh!)
I simply love the taste of Sikhye - it’s sweet, slightly-grainy and delicious!It’s actually been a long part of Korea’s culinary history.
During the Joseon Dynasty, Sikhye was served to the Royalty – as it was believed to aid guests in digesting their meals.
Nowadays, Sikhye is ubiquitous in Korea and sold in small cans at Korean convenience marts for $1 – thus, most people don’t make it at home.
Lucky for me, I’ve seen my grandmother (who resides in the countryside) make it from scratch during Korean Holidays.
She would sit in the dimly-lit kitchen and squeeze the malted barley with her strong hands – while I looked on with curiosity.
For those who love Sikhye and want to make a homemade batch, allow me to teach you how to make it from scratch - a variation of my grandmother's!
Cooking Notes for Sikhye:
Sikhye is made with malted barley – known in Korean as yeot-gireum (엿기름).
Malted barley is barley that has germinated (sprouted) and dried through a process called “malting”.
Yeot-gireum can ben found at most Korean markets – simply ask the staff (or point to this Korean text 엿기름).
Instead of squeezing the barley and pouring the residual water through a sieve, you can also use a large squeeze bag.
For this home recipe, you’ll need a rice cooker (or slow cooker).
We’ll break down the starch in the rice by steeping it at a warm temperature.
The “Keep Warm” setting on rice cookers provides just the right temperature - do NOT “Cook” it.
Let it steep for 8 hours - rice grains should be floating on top.
After steeping, we will scoop the rice out, and give the rice a rinse, then place into a Tupperware with fresh water.
Keep this in the refrigerator. We'll use the soaked rice as topping for later.
(If you boil it with the rice, the rice will sink to the bottom later - doesn't look pretty when serving).
The amount of sugar will slightly vary for everyone – it depends on the size of your rice cooker.
If most of the residual malt water you squeezed fit into your rice cooker, I recommend adding up to 1.5 cup of sugar (just like us) at the end.
But to be safe, start with 1 cup – then add bit more until you reach 1.5 cups – or until it’s sweet enough for you.
This is my go-to recipe for homemade Sikhye – and I hope you get a chance to try it at home as well.
It’s irresistibly good.
That's it neighbors! Daniel out 🕺~
If you make this sikhye at home, tag us on IG – we love flipping through pictures of your dishes in the morning! It give us energy to create more recipes!
(P.s. If you’re cooking alone, don’t get bored. Consider listening to our latest podcast episode while you cook!)
- 500 grams Malted Barley (Yeot-Gireum) (spelled '엿기름' in Korean)
- 2 Liters Water (For 1st Squeeze)
- 1.5 Liters Water (For 2nd Squeeze)
- 2 Cup Cooked Short-Grain Rice
- 1-1.5 Cups Sugar (Please adjust to taste)
Cook Rice & Pre-Soak Malted Barley
- Wash your hands thoroughly - we're going to be squeezing things!
- Place about 500 grams of malted barley in a large mixing bowl (or large pot). Then pour-in 2L (~8.5 cups) of lukewarm water. Give it a few stirs. Set aside for 30 minutes so the malt can hydrate.
Cook White Rice
- While you wait, measure at least 1.5 cup of uncooked short-grain white rice and get it cooking in the background - we'll need 2 cups of cooked white rice in later steps.
Squeeze out the "milk"
- After 30 minutes, use your hands and grab fistfuls of the soaking malt. Give them a good squeeze to release a white liquid from them. Keep grabbing and squeezing for 3-4 minutes.
- Then take out another large mixing bowl (or large pot). Place a strainer on top of this bowl. Now pour the mixture through the strainer. Give the leftover mush on top of the strainer a few stirs so that the liquid can pass through quicker.
- Now take the leftover malt that's on top of the strainer. Place it back into a mixing bowl (or pot) and mix it with 1.5L (~6 cups) of water. We'll repeat the squeezing process - do it for 3-4 minutes.
- Place a strainer back onto a bowl (or pot) and pass the liquid through. After all the liquid has passed through, grab handfuls of the leftover clumps and give it one final squeeze - there's a good amount of "milk" that's left in these clumps.
- Note: Don't throw out the squeezed malt just yet! Simply set it aside. (In later steps - you may find that you're a bit short of filling your rice cooker bowl with malt water. If so, you can soak the leftover barley and squeeze out some more liquid.)
- Now you're left with the malt water. This is an important step: Pass this malt water through a strainer once more (or even better, a cheese cloth) to catch any residual barley pieces.
Rest Malt Water for 1 Hour
- After its filtered, let the malt water sit in a bowl for at least 40 minutes to 1 hour. Don't disturb it - we want the heavy starch in the malt water to sink to the bottom of the bowl.
- After 1 hour, carefully pour the malt water into your rice cooker bowl. Don't pour out everything - we don't want the leftover starch/sediments thats at the bottom (only the liquid)
Mix with Rice & Keep Warm for 8 hours
- Now, scoop out 2 cups of cooked short-grain rice and place it into a mixing bowl. Then scoop some of the malt water from your rice cooker bowl and pour it over the rice. Mix the rice around in the malt water so that the grains separate from each other (no clumps). Then add the rice and malt water back into the rice cooker bowl.
- Place the bowl back into the rice cooker and press the "Keep Warm" button. Let it stay warm in the rice cooker for 8 hours. (*Important - Don't press the "Cook" Button - there should be a "stay warm" function on your machine)
- After 8 hours, open up the rice cooker. You'll see rice grains floating on top of the surface (great job - that's exactly what we want!)
Scoop Rice Out Before Boiling
- Now take the rice cooker bowl out of the machine and move it to your kitchen area. Then grab a strainer and scoop out the majority of the rice in the malt water (note: you don't need to get it all.)
- Wash the rice grains that you scooped out under cold water. Then place them into a Tupperware container. Fill it with fresh water. Keep it store in the refrigerator. We'll use this rice as a topping for our Sikhye when serving.
Boil Sikhye & Sweeten with Sugar
- Now back to the malt water. Move the liquid from the rice bowl into a large pot. Place the pot on high heat and bring it to a boil. As it comes to a boil, we'll add-in our sugar. Start with 1 full cup of sugar - then adding until it's sweet enough for you. (For us, we used 1.5 cups and it came out perfect!)
- When the pot comes to boil, you'll see foam collect at the top of the pot. Use a soup ladle to skim it all off - this makes for a cleaner taste.
- Now turn off the heat - and let the pot cool down.
- (Note: The sikhye may taste "slightly-off" if you taste it while its still hot. Once its cooled down, the sikhye will taste just right - so don't panic!)
- Once the liquid is cool, store the sikhye in large bottles or jars. Then chill in the refrigerator.
- Pour the cold sikhye into a small bowl or cup. Grab a fork and scoop up some of the white rice we aside earlier. Mix it into the sikhye and the rice will float on top!
- Bon Appetit ya'll - you've made your first batch of Sikhye! I'm proud of you 😉