Nurungji (누룽지), also known as scorched rice, is a food with variations in many countries. It is one of the simplest things to make using leftover rice, and Korea has its own versatile uses for it. Crispy and browned, it has a delicious mellow flavor that can be used for several different dishes. You may already be familiar with it. If you’ve ever had dolsot bibimbap (돌솥 비빔밥), stone pot bibimbap, and had the patience to let the rice on the bottom cook into a shell, then that was nurungji! This form of rice has been around since at least the 17th century, with medical books citing it as a healing food for sick people. It is written to have been good for digestion and as a food that will not upset the stomach.
This convenient snack is made by continuing to cook rice in a thin layer onto the hot surface after the rice has cooked normally. This can be in a rice cooker, a Korean stone pot, or even just in a pan. The rice will become browned and form a crispy exterior. From there it can be stored, eaten as is as a snack, or combined with hot water to make sungnyung; a drink with the nurungji flavor.
Due to its high popularity and comforting taste, nurungji is now available in stores packaged and ready-to-eat. There are many forms now, from plain to sweet, that have been fried. The taste has become so widespread and addictive that there is even a nurungji-flavor on the market. It has truly taken over the food culture of Korea, even as far as being used for pizza! Youtuber Plan:D also cites it as one of her favorite foods and can be seen using a prepackaged version for breakfast occasionally in her vlogs.
If you too have been taken in by its charm and want to see what this famous rice product could taste like, here is a recipe by Youtuber Maangchi that includes exact times so you can make your own. The video also includes footage of how to take it a step further to make sungnyung, hot water poured over nurungji to make a drink.
Extremely versatile and comforting, nurungji is easy to make as well as utilize! Next time you cook rice try leaving a bit on the heat to crisp up! Not only will it smell amazing but it will also be a fun snack to try as soon as it is done. If you can’t get enough from just that, try adding hot water to create a whole new flavor still based on that mellow nurungji!
Cover Image: Maangchi.com
Written by Annikki Leppa