Mission Makgeolli – Definitive Recipes
Makgeolli (막걸리) and the closely related dongdongju (동동주) are Korean rice wines which are fairly easy to make. Such rice based fermented alcohols are common across Asia and in the case of makgeolli and dongdongju are the first fruits of a process which if continued and elaborated upon, leads to drinks such as saki. Unlike saki, which looks like water, makgeolli and dongdongju are of a milky appearance often with rice floating in the drink and sediment which necessitates it being stirred or shaken before serving. Dongdongju, often called nongju because of its association with farmers (농), is basically the same recipe as makgeolli but with an additional step in the process. I shall henceforth use the term ‘makgeolli’ when referring to the brewing process of both drinks.
Originally, makgeolli was a rural alcohol, a sort of home brew and until recently you could neither buy it in cans or cartons as the fermentation was ongoing. Commercial methods have now established the drink in cities where it has gained a somewhat ‘trendy’ image being combined with pulped fruit, yogurt and Chilsung Cider (Seven Up or Sprite). Some companies have also started producing a ‘well being’ variation which uses schisandra (五味子). There is now a wide range of available brands and although makgeolli is naturally ‘bubbly,’ some versions are carbonated – probably as they are boiled to kill the fermentation process and hence lose their natural ‘gassy’ quality.
Served while still fermenting, it is has the quality of an alcoholic ice cream soda, being both light and creamy, a little like medieval syllabub. The recipe below is still being adjusted but it produces a brew that my Korean friends are happy to drink and if undiluted, is quite potent. Sugar and water, or sprite can always be added to adjust the drink to your own specific preference.
Is it Beer or a Wine?
Perhaps the best method of classification is based on alcohol by volume (ABV). If the brew is in excess of 10% ABV, then it is a ‘wine’, if under 10% ABV it is closer to a beer. Under this classification commercial makgeolli, which is usually 5-7% ABV, would be a ‘beer.’ On the other hand, Japanese Saki, traditionally containing about 16% ABV, is a wine.
For more information on makgeolli click here: (pages: Mister Makgeolli).
©努江虎 – 노강호 2011 Creative Commons Licence.