This is a Korean thick rice "wine." Ways you may see it spelled:
Also known as:
농주 (nong-ju (Long o, and long u)) Farmer Liquor
닥주 (tak-ju ('a' has an 'ah' sound))
Similar to 동동주 (dongdongju - dongdong means "floating")
If you want to understand more what it is:
It can be anywhere from sweet to sour, but as I understand, the modern sweet variations are made sweet by adding aspartame. When I lived in Korea in the '80's, Makgeolli was a blue collar drink. Now, it seems to be seen almost as a health food, so it has entered classier society in Korea. When I was served it in Korea, it usually had some degree of tanginess to it - not overpowering, though. I understand that modern makgeolli does not always have this.
I have seen some experiments on here that apparently didn't turn out well. The lady of our house had it made in her house (in Pusan, Korea) often when she was growing up. She offered to teach me to make it. The first batch, she made it and I took notes (except for one place where I interfered ... I'll note that). She nailed the flavor of what I remember makgeolli as being.
Now, I'll make more experiments and update this post with the results.
Recipe 1: Basic makgeolli but with a wine yeast. Makes about 1 gallon:
2 1/2 cups of rice (we used mixed brown rice that Koreans call 현미 (hyun mi)). Any rice will do. Many recipes call for glutinous rice, AKA sweet rice or sticky rice.
1 lb nuruk (see note below)
Wine yeast (see yeast note below)
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR THESE RECIPES: Getting the Nuruk hot will create a VERY sour makgeolli. Every place the nuruk touches the rice, make sure the rice is cooled to below 80 degrees. The nuruk package warns that getting it above 93 degrees F will make everything very sour. Of course, that warning was written only in Korean, so most English readers may not be able to understand it
Nuruk note: Nuruk is translated many different ways, and even appears differently in Wikipedia from what it says on the package. The package says it is "Amylase enzyme," but from other reading, it seems to be that enzyme in a wheat malt base, and it seems to have yeast already in it. You can buy it from a Korean market. If you have any confusion, print out 누룩 and show that to the Koreans working there. They will know what it is. You can also just tell them you are making makgeolli and they will know what you need
Yeast Note: I used Red Star Pasteur Red yeast on this first batch because I was confused when reading. Some recipes called for wine yeast, some called for bread yeast, and some did not call for yeast at all. The recipe on the Nuruk package did not call for yeast. The lady and I had an intense discussion on fermentation, and I added the yeast. Afterwards, I read in Wikipedia that the Nuruk has yeast in it. In the next batch, I will try without adding yeast.
1. Rinse and cook the 2 1/2 cups of rice. If you are not familiar with how to rinse and cook rice, see this link: http://chinesefood.about.com/od/chinesecookingbasics/ss/cook_rice_photo.htm
(But a rice cooker is best).
2. Let the rice cool to room temperature. DO NOT get in a hurry and add the Nuruk early. Doing so will make the makgeolli very sour.
3. When cooled, mix the rice with the nuruk. The nuruk is very grainy, so it may seem difficult, but you can get it mixed throughout the rice fairly consistently.
4. Add 11 cups of filtered or spring water to the mix.
5. If adding yeast (like I did) add the yeast.
6. Stir the mixture well for consistency.
7. Cover the mixture and set it so that no sunlight will hit it, and the temperature will stay in the 70's (cooler is okay, but fermentation may take longer. Warmer may make it very sour).
8. Stir the mixture once or twice/day for 3 or 4 days.
9. After 3 or 4 days, filter the mixture through muslin into another sanitized container.
10. Dilute the filtered mixture in a ratio of 3 parts makgeoli to 2 parts water. You can adjust the dilution if you want it a little stronger. We did this by using a cup and dipping 3 cups of makkolli into another container, then adding 2 cups of water and repeating until all of the makkolli mixture was moved into the new container.
11. Put the diluted mixture into a pitcher, crock, or plastic bottles. Traditionally, makgeolli was slightly carbed just from the fermentation. In some modern variations, it is bottled to make it more carbed. You can do it either way. Bottling it for more carbonation may make it better if it becomes a little too tangy.
12. Leave it in the 70ish degree temps for about another 3 - 4 days. At that point, you can refrigerate if you would like. At the end of this time, it is ready to drink. Makgeolli is very perishable - it will not last more than 2 - 3 weeks at the most if you leave it out, but it may last a little longer if you refrigerate it.
13. Drink it. Stir the sediments up or shake the container to make the whole drink milky and consistent before drinking. It is traditionally served in a cold bowl rather than a glass. It goes very well with the Korean Pancakes, (http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Korean+Pancakes&view=detail&id=D1603B56FD 8A26ECA8D6C8B72296299EE6329927&first=0&qpvt=Korean +Pancakes&FORM=IDFRIR
) or (IMO) with spicy food of any kind. It's not a flavor I normally would just sit and drink by myself while watching a ball game, but it is very good with dinner, and sometimes when socializing with some of my friends who like it.
<end of recipe 1. Next batch making adds some apple into the mix - an idea I picked up from someone calling it "Busan Apple Makgeolli." I also plan to not add extra yeast in the next experiment. In other variations I may try, starchy stock like sweet potatoes are substituted for part of the rice.>
See below for the color and consistency at the time of bottling/putting into pitchers.