Monday, August 22, 2011

식혜 ([shikhae], Korean malted punch)


Shikhae (식혜) is a cherished drink by Koreans. Koreans prefer light desserts to finish their meals. Shikhae is one of the most common desserts, often served with some fruits. Making Shikhae takes time, although time itself does the most of the work.

Malt flour (germinated cereal) is the main ingredient.
You need 2 cups malt flour.

Mix the malt flour with 10 cups of cold water and leave it for 1 hour .

Rub the malt between your palms aggressively to extract all the juice.
Sieve,  pressing down as much juice as possible.
It will look like this now. Refrigerate for 3-4 hours (or overnight). Meanwhile, prepare rice.  Cook 1 cup of rice. Make it a little bit drier that you usually like.
It will become like this. Do you see the sediment on the bottom? What we need is the clear juice, not the sediment. Be careful. Do not agitate the sediment on the bottom.
Pour the malted water through cheese clothe into the rice cooker pot. Discard the sediment on the bottom.
Add cooked rice, then separate the grains gently.
Set the rice cooker on "warm" cycle. Leave it for 3 hours to develop enzyme. During this process, the starch in the malt grains will turn into sugar. You don't want to over develop the enzyme so check from time to time. When you see  30-40 rice grains are floating, it is done. 
Scoop out half of the rice. Rinse the rice and save it in the cold water. Keep it in the refrigerator until you need it.
Transfer all the fermented malted rice water to a big pot. Add a slice of ginger (or 1/4 tsp of ginger powder). Bring it to a boil on high heat then reduce the heat to medium.  Boil for 15 minutes. While it is boiling, skim the foam often. Add 1/4 cup of sugar (or more, depends on your taste). Cool down the liquid and transfer it to a container. Keep it really cold. Float some of the saved rice just right before serving.

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