I have been shot by a few curious readers whether rice cake or tteokbokki is permissible for Muslim.
"Hey, just wanna ask if tteok are generally permissible for muslim to eat? Always thought that they contain soju/alcohol...Thanks" - on Crazy Tteok in Hongdae
Under my investigator mode and some lurking over here and there on Naver and Google search engine, I found some answers:
- what kind of alcohol was put in rice cake
- the term used in Korean for alcohol in food
- how much is the alcohol content in rice cake (in this case: SOGA brand)
- is rice cake permissible for Muslim?
Rice Cake, brand: Soga from Pulmuone
Image from E-Mart
Picture 1: Alcohol put in rice cake is called as 주정
Picture 2: 발효 알콜 - alcoholic fermentation process
Alcohol put in rice cake is called as:
- 주정 (Picture 1) - Ethanol
- 알콜 (Picture 2) - Alcohol
Based on this question, on Naver; the question was answered in detail.
주정(酒精): 알코올의 한 가지. 술의 주성분으로서 주로 녹말로 만드는 무색투명한 액체.
Ethanol (酒精): one kind of alcohol. Of alcohol as a main component to make mostly colorless and transparent liquid starch.
A detail research on alcohol: Alcohol - The Myth and The Realities by Dr. Mian
N. Riaz (He has a Ph.D. and presently working as food scientist
with Texas A&M University in Texas.)
Dr. Mian N. Riaz said:
"Alcohol (ethanol, ethyl alcohol) is usually made from starch,
sugar and other carbohydrates by fermentation with yeast; also,
synthetically from acetylene or ethylene. It is clear, colorless,
very mobile, flammable liquid; a pleasant odor; burning taste;
and miscible with water and with many organic liquids. It is hygroscopic
and relatively nonionic. Ethanol has a slightly sweet taste and
a characteristic aroma."
"ethyl is the best-known alcohol and the one that concern us most,
as it is the principal alcohol to be found in all alcoholic beverages."
There is no any difference between ethyl alcohol and ethanol.
Both are the same thing except two different names."
"Muslims don't have to worry, if they find a
food label statement which says "sugar alcohol."
" The non- alcoholic drinks may not be entirely
free from alcohol, as there is no known process that will extract
all the alcohol from an alcoholic drink.(2)
The small traces of alcohol make the labeling of the beverages
"From the above discussion, it is clear all alcohols and liquors
are not same. Some are intoxicants and some are not. Often, alcohol
and liquor are used simply as a description. Therefore, Muslims
should not be confused or worried with terminology. However, if
any intoxicant liquor or alcohol is used in any product then we
should avoid that product. In Islam, all intoxicants are Haram whether
they are in liquid, solid or in any other form and in any quantity."
Yahoo Questions: What foods contain ethanol?
"Ethanol CAN be obtained in foods through fermentation. Many
fruits and/or other foods with sugars can ferment in the presence of
yeast. However, this process normally doesn't happen because the food
would need to be in a container that allows CO2 to be released, yet keep
oxygen out. Oxygen effectively stops the process. A good example of
this is bread. Many leavened breads produce a small amount of ethanol
through the yeast reactions."
You may read more about Ethanol here.
I have personally sent an email to Pulmuone for the rice cake's brand SOGA.
Please ignore my bad Korean.
This is the reply from Pulmuone's representative.
풀무원에서는 유통기한을 연장하기 위한 합성첨가물을 사용하지 않기 때문에...
저희 떡, 면 등의 제품에는 유통기한 확보를 위해 주정을 사용합니다.
말씀하신 떡제품에는 떡중량의 0.4%정도의 주정이 사용되며,
이는 대부분 조리과정에서 휘발/ 제거됩니다.
대부분 알콜알레르기가 있으신 분들도 제품에 사용된 주정이 문제되지 않는 수준이므로
제품 이용에 문제는 없으실 듯 합니다만....
안내드린 내용을 참고하셔서 제품이용을 부탁드립니다.
Translation (I tried to translate it as best as I could):
I am Pulmuone's representative.
In order not to use synthetic additives to prolong the shelf-life of Pulmuone's product, we use alcohol instead to prolong the shelf-life of the products for example rice cake, noodles and etc.
As the referred rice cake products (SOGA - in my email), from the total weight of the rice cake (which is 600gm of rice cake) 0.4% is the alcohol perused (about 2.4 gm). Most of it (volatile alcohol) will be removed (evaporated) after the cooking process (for example: after making the tteokbokki)
Most people who have alcohol allergy; in other words will not have any problem using the products (from Pulmuone) because of the alcohol level perused in the products.
We would be glad that you could use our products after the information given as reference.