Make Ahead

Toasted Rice Chuhai

March 17, 2013
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes about 1 1/2 cups syrup
Author Notes

There's an izakaya in Portland named Biwa that I really love. In addition to really delicious food, it has a great cocktail list. Last time I was at Biwa, I had the genmai chuhai—a shochu "haiball" flavored with toasted rice and vanilla. The toasted rice gave it a slightly unusual, but remarkably pleasant flavor. The cocktail is much like a soda and sweeter than I typically prefer, but the toasty rice flavor really won me over. After several sips I decided I had to try to replicate it. —hardlikearmour

Test Kitchen Notes

Good recipe—tasted great and very refreshing. It has a Creamsicle taste to it. It's a sweeter drink, so great for a hot summer day. It was a bit time consuming for a beverage recipe, mainly because you have to toast the rice and let that cool and make the syrup and that also has to cool. So you would want to make the syrup in advance. (I also nearly smoked out the entire house toasting the rice.) The directions were easy to follow and they do mention that toasting rice will smoke, so I was prepared. —maryGpastorek

What You'll Need
  • Toasted Rice Syrup
  • 1 cup sweet rice (sometimes called glutinous or sticky rice)*
  • 1 cup evaporated cane juice (or substitute granulated or turbinado sugar)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Toasted Rice Chuhai
  • 1 1/2 ounces Jinro Soju
  • 1 1/2 ounces toasted rice syrup
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar (or substitute lemon juice)
  • Ice
  • Seltzer
  1. Toasted Rice Syrup
  2. Preheat oven to 450° F. Spread rice into a thin layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, stirring several times, about 15 minutes. When done, the rice should look similar to toasted coconut. Warning: Toasting the rice will generate some smoke.
  3. While the oven is preheating, combine sugar and water in a high-sided saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Once the rice is in the oven, heat sugar mixture over medium with the lid on the pan. Gently swirl the pan occasionally to help dissolve the sugar. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat.
  4. Pour the toasted rice into the sugar syrup. It will bubble vigorously, so use caution. Add the vanilla extract. Cover and let come to room temperature.
  5. Strain the mixture though a mesh strainer. Refrigerate.
  6. *Sweet rice can be found in Asian markets. You may be tempted to substitute another variety of rice, but please don't—it just won't taste right!
  1. Toasted Rice Chuhai
  2. Combine Soju, toasted rice syrup, and vinegar in a highball glass (12 to 14 ounces). Add several ice cubes (fill glass 1/3 to 1/2 way). Fill glass with seltzer. Stir gently to combine. Serve.
  3. Note: Feel free to adjust the proportions to taste or leave out the Soju for a non-alcoholic soda.
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  • Lawrence Fields
    Lawrence Fields
  • Wayne Chasi Godo
    Wayne Chasi Godo
  • gingerroot
  • EmilyC
  • hardlikearmour
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

7 Reviews

Lawrence F. March 31, 2018
I toasted the rice, I'm colorblind, it looks right, but smells like burnt popcorn a bit. Not sure if that is what it is supposed smell like.
Wayne C. November 23, 2016
Would it be possible to ferment this, and thus turn it into an alcoholic beverage?
hardlikearmour November 23, 2016
Good question, but unfortunately beyond my scope of knowledge. I hope someone can give you an answer.
gingerroot October 28, 2014
Mmm...I love toasted sweet rice and I've had desserts that have used it as a component. I can almost taste this (does it taste like pandan leaf syrup?)...
hardlikearmour November 2, 2014
Hmmm. It does have some pandan qualities, but is less "green" in flavor.
EmilyC March 19, 2013
I'm very intrigued by the toasted rice syrup! What a fun (and unusual) cocktail. On my list of things to try!
hardlikearmour March 19, 2013
Thanks, EmC! It's definitely interesting -- I love it, but my husband is pretty much "meh" about it.