My smug face of finding pearl barley in the Chinese Supermarket was soon wiped off my face when I realised the Chinese pearl barley I bought is completely unrelated to actual barley! Arghh and I was so looking forward to making a lovely Turkish salad with pearl barley and pomegrantes…
Oh well, gotta look on the bright side of life and make it work! I googled this mysterious grain and to my surprise I seem to have stumbled upon an extremely healthy ingredient which is used a lot in traditional Chinese medicine. These grains come from a grass native to South-East Asia and are also known as Yi Yi Ren, coixseeds, hato mugi, adlai and a plethora of other names.
I had no clue as to what to do with this mysterious grain so I chucked a few things in a pot and prayed to the Chinese pantheon of gods. The result was satisfying and I have taken quite a shine to these grains which I can only describe as nutty.
1 chicken carcass
2 chicken wings
2 chicken drumsticks (alternatively use a whole chicken)
5 thick slices unpeeled ginger
1 onion, quatered
6 whole garlic cloves
1 carrot, large chunks
1 turnip, quatered
1 daikon, large chunks
4 handfuls Job’s tears, soaked overnight and drained
3 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 star anise
½ stick cassia
Salt & pepper, to taste
10 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated & halved
Shiitake dashi (liquid from rehydrating the shiitake mushrooms; make sure you sieve it before using)
2 – 3 bok choy, roughly chopped
2 handfuls mung bean sprouts
1 Place all ingredients except for the bok choy and mung bean sprouts in a large stockpot and cover fully with cold water. Bring to a boil, skim off impurities and then simmer on low for 30 minutes.
2 Adjust seasoning to taste and then add bok choy and mung bean sprouts. Cook for 5 minutes and then ladle into bowls to enjoy. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top if you like, as I do.