Have a cough? How about a fever? Sore throat? No problem - drink some barley tea!
Never heard of barley tea before? Well, you have now. Growing up, my mom boiled up a lot of barley tea for when we were sick, a little under the weather or just needing comfort. The Chinese believe that barley is a cooling food so when you're coughing, or have a fever, you need the drink to balance out your heatiness. I don't really know if I believe this, but hey, it tastes really good so I don't argue.
Served hot or cold, it's very refreshing on any day. Basically, you just boil some pearl barley with lots of water, add some rock sugar (or plain ol' white sugar), and oh, if you happen to have some pandan leaves, throw a bunch of that in too. Boil it until the barley gets soft and then drink it. If you want, eat the barley too.
Boilling Barley Tea with Pandan
This past week, my son Daniel has been coughing a lot. Since my mom is visiting from Malaysia, she of course boiled some barley for him. He LOVED it and has been asking for more (we've run out and have to go get more pearls). I think this is a tradition that will carry on in my family.
Now this post isn't really about simple barley tea because that is just too easy. There is a tong sui (soupy dessert) served in Malaysia (and yes, other countries too, but c'mon, I'm going to say in Malaysia cuz duh...I'm from there!) that features barley but is even more tasty by adding some special treats in it.
All these ingredients are delicious and also good for you. How is it good? Well, you have barley, which is a whole grain. Then you have gingko nuts which are known to aid in memory, increase blood flow...oh, just google it and read it up yourself--the list is long! Then there's fuchok (which is dried soybean curd, which is tofu! And we all know how good tofu is for you!).
Fuchok (Bean Curd Sheets)
Just one note on the fuchok. Do make sure you get the right kind. There are two types--one is thicker and meant for savory foods (like stews and soups) and the other (the one we want) is thinner and crumbles easily when crushed. Some of the better ones will even melt in your barley drink when you boil it (which will make it almost like soybean milk). But it's ok if it doesn't melt, it will get nice and soft which gives it a velvety, silky texture when you drink it.
Barley with Fuchok and Gingko
1/2 cup barley pearls, rinsed
10 cups water
4-5 pandan leaves (if you can't find fresh leaves, look in the freezer section in your Asian grocery store--that's where we found ours)
1 package of fuchok (dried bean curd), crushed
1 can gingko nuts (if you can get fresh, certainly use it but don't forget to remove to bitter middle green bit)
1 egg, beaten
10 quail's eggs, boiled and peeled (optional)
2-3 pieces of rock sugar (or substitute with white sugar), to taste
Chinese rock sugar
1. Place barley, pandan leaves (knotted up to keep them all together for easier fishing out), and water in a large pot and bring to boil. Once it's boiled, simmer for 45 more minutes.
2. Add crushed fuchok and stir it in, bring to boil again and then simmer till fuchok has melted or gotten soft, about 20-30 minutes.
3. Add rock sugar. Start with two pieces and when melted, taste. If not sweet enough, add a third piece.
4. Stir the soup, and while it's swirling, slowly drizzle the beaten egg in to form a ribbon in the soup.
Stirring the Barley Soup with Pandan and Fuchok
5. Add quail's eggs if desired. I used to love this when I was younger but my mom no longer adds this as she thinks that the cholesterol is not worth it. Maybe I'll add it the next time.
Fish out the pandan leaves and discard. Serve the soup hot or cold.
Sweet Barley Soup with Fuchok and Gingko Nuts
This is a pretty easy dessert to make so if you have access to the ingredients (most can be found at your Asian grocery store), do give it a try. Enjoy!
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