Makgeolli Madness

I am giving up on chronological order… I will just write about whatever I want!

image Last Sunday, I went to a workshop on making Makgeolli, a traditional rice liquor. It was organized by Koroot, an adoptee organization, so I also got to meet some other adoptees! Many from part of the US (still strange to hear the southern accent to be honest), and others from Australia, Holland, and Italy! I will come back to the adoptee circle later.

Makgeolli! There are different variations apparently, and what we made was Dongdongju.


Step 1: Steam 4 kilos of sweet rice for about an hour. (Fortunately, they did this for us before we came)


Step 2 : Spread rice out to cool down, but not dry. Flip it over and move it about to cool faster.


Step 3 : Put in a stainless steel bowl. Add 600 grams of Nuruk (or more) to activate fermentation. Add 4 liters of boiled and cooled water.


Step 4 : Mash slowly and evenly with your palm, pressing down with your shoulder at a 90 degree angle, being careful not to smush the grains of rice too much. Mash not smush. Do ts for 30 minutes!


Step 5 : Put it into Korean pot, clean the bowl with more nuruk and spread it on top. Close and move to the fermentation room! Put the pots in little sleeping bags and wrap them up with an electric blanket to bring the temperature up to just above body temperature. This changes by the season so in autumn (best time to make it) the heat is set to 37 degrees, summer at 30 degrees, and winter at 50 degrees. Wait 2 days.


Step 6 : Put the whole pot in cool water to cool down again (6-7 hours), then it goes back for fermentation phase 2 – 15-17 degrees for 3 weeks.


Step 7 : Take it out and squeeze out the liquid! If you want to make Takju, add more water and squeeze more.



The teacher said we did a good kob with our mashing, which is important or else the taste is sour or bitter instead of sweet. However, we will never know because someone else in a workshop in a month’s time will be the group to try it. We tried a batch made by a group a month ago and they did not do so well. A bit of a sour taste. They let us try a few other liquors they had made with lotus leaves which was really tasty, and gave us each a small bottle of the dongdongju to take home.

Overall, a fun workshop! Apparently, the factory made makgeolli is much faster but does not taste as good as the authentic traditional method. Only you had to get it right! If you want to be a master of the craft, they require 2 years coming once a week I think. Another lifetime perhaps…


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