You and your friends finish the last few scraps of meat remaining on the grill. You motion for the check, and the server comes over to the table suggesting some cold, refreshing rice punch. You say “yes,” and soon enough, the server returns with a few small bowls. In them, is a special concoction of malt water and fermented rice known as sikhye.
To prepare this popular drink, barley malt powder is mixed into a big bowl of water. The grains eventually settle to the bottom of the solution, and the liquid that is separated from the dregs is poured out. Sugar and fermented rice are added to the liquid, and the liquid is boiled, then chilled. Ginger and jujube are often added to sikhye to contribute to its unique, but pleasantly strong smell and taste. Pine nuts are thrown in as well.
Sometimes referred to as gamju or dansul, sikhye comes in many variations—some of which include Andong sikhye, Jinju sikhye, and yeonyeop sikhye.
The sweet beverage is not only refreshing, but it’s also quite healthy. It contains dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, and even lactobacillus—a harmless strain of bacteria that is often used as a digestive aid. Sikhye contains a lot of enzymes and prevents food from decomposing inside our bodies. It’s supposed to be good for blood circulation, too. No wonder Kings were served sikhye for dessert!
Trust us, you won’t regret taking a sip of sikhye come mid-July.