For the last 6 months or so, I have been guilty of making my own makkoli (막걸리), Korean rice wine, at home.
Above is a video tutorial I made while I made my last batch of makkoli.
It’s actually not hard to do, let me just outline the steps here real quick:
1. Get some rice, you can use sweet rice for best results.
2. Clean the rice by washing it with water, do this like 30 times at least and until you see no visible clouding when water is added to the rice.
(As you can see in the photo, the rice is now really clean, very white and no cloudiness with the water.)
3. Once the rice is clean, fill it with water in a big bowl and let it sit like 3-5 hours. This is so the rice absorbs water and also all impurities are gone.
4. Drain the water, then let it sit for another 3-5 hours, this will make sure there’s no remaining water.
5. Steam the rice now until you have nice sticky rice. This is the same method you use on Thai sticky rice.
(This is what I use, a big Korean pan, and bamboo steamer.)
(Rice is done!)
6. Once the rice is done, let it sit until it reaches room temperature. This is very important, if you don’t let the rice cool down all the way and mix with yeast, you will kill all the bacteria you need for fermenting in the yeast and grow fungus instead of makkoli.
7. Then you mix it with some mill yeast and regular yeast. Just a little bit of each will do, you can experiment with the amount to get the perfect flavor on your makkoli.
(You can prepare the yeast mixture by adding a bit of water and mixing it.)
7. Mix everything with water, perhaps ratio of 5:3, rice 5 parts and water 3 parts.
8. Put this whole mixture into a big glass jar (or Korean clay jar if you have one of those). IMPORTANT: Make sure you clean the glass jar really well. I clean the glass jar then swirl some soju (you can also use vodka) to disinfect it.
Cover the top of the jar with paper towel so bugs can’t get in and your rice wine can breath. If you completely block air, your rice wine cannot ferment.
9. Put the glass jar in a room of temperature near 78-88 degrees fahrenheit. Ideally, 85 degrees is good. But don’t let it go over 88 degrees as it will ruin your makkoli. Also, if your room is too cold, you can buy an electric blanket and wrap around the jar.
(You can also give your lovely makkoli some nice clothing to keep it warm.)
I highly recommend you to get a thermometer such as my infrared thermometer to be able to tell temperature of your makkoli instantly at any time.
10. Keep stirring your fermenting rice wine on a daily basis for the next 3-5 days.
11. After 2-3 days, your fermenting rice wine should make bubbly sounds, that’s when the yeast is making alcohol from the rice and breaking it down.
12. When the fermenting rice wine stops bubbling or bubbles a lot less on day 4 or 5, you can use a cloth filter to filter out the rice wine.
13. Add some water to the rice wine you made, perhaps about 4 parts water to 5 parts rice wine. This is because the rice wine you just made contains around 16% alcohol.
It’s going to taste rather harsh so add water to make it around 6-7% alcohol.
14. Optionally, if you want a bit of carbonation to your makkoli, which I prefer, add a bit of sugar (1-2 tablespoons) then put it in a Pepsi bottle. Put the Pepsi bottle in the refrigerator for 3-5 days and it will ferment slowly while adding natural carbonation.
15. Drink your makkoli within the next 2-3 weeks and enjoy.
If this is the first time making Korean rice wine, you should really watch my video. It’s sorta long at 43 minutes but I go into every detail so I hope you success in your making of makkoli!