Chinese Barley Water Recipe: Refreshing and Easy to Make – Seaco Online
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Chinese Barley Water Recipe: Refreshing and Easy to Make

Barley water is a traditional Chinese drink that has been enjoyed for centuries. It is made by boiling barley until the pearls are soft and the water is partly milky. This refreshing drink is perfect for cooling down during hot summer months or as a healthy alternative to sugary drinks.

A Chinese barley water recipe being prepared with ingredients including barley, water, and sugar in a traditional kitchen setting

Chinese barley, also known as Job's tears or coix seed, is the main ingredient in barley water. It is a type of grain that is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine for its health benefits. Barley water is believed to have a cooling effect on the body, making it a popular drink during the summer months. The drink is also said to have diuretic properties, which can help flush out toxins from the body.

If you're looking to make barley water at home, there are many variations of the recipe to choose from. Some recipes call for additional ingredients like winter melon sugar or pandan leaves to add flavour. You can also experiment with adding different types of fruit or even seafood to the recipe for a unique twist.

Key Takeaways

  • Barley water is a traditional Chinese drink made by boiling barley until the pearls are soft and the water is partly milky.
  • Chinese barley is the main ingredient in barley water and is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine for its health benefits.
  • Barley water can be customized with additional ingredients like winter melon sugar, pandan leaves, fruit, or seafood to add flavour and variety.

History and Significance

Barley grains, water, and a traditional Chinese pot simmer over a flame, symbolizing the historical and cultural significance of the barley water recipe

Cultural Background

Barley water has been a popular beverage in Chinese culture for centuries. It is often consumed during hot weather to help cool the body and quench thirst. In Chinese, barley water is known as "薏米水" (yi mi shui). The traditional Chinese-style barley water is made by boiling barley until the barley pearls are soft and the water becomes partly milky. It is a traditional, old-fashioned way of making barley water that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Medicinal Uses

Barley water has been valued for its health benefits and medicinal properties. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), barley is considered a "medicinal food" that can help nourish the spleen, stomach and lung meridians. It is believed to have a cooling effect on the body and can help alleviate symptoms of heat stroke, fever and thirst.

Barley water is also rich in nutrients such as vitamins B and E, minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, and antioxidants. It is believed to help improve digestion, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels.

Proposed seafood to be used in the recipe:

If you want to add a twist to your barley water recipe, you can try adding seafood to it. For example, you can add a few slices of fresh squid or prawns to the barley water while it is boiling. This will give the barley water a subtle seafood flavour and make it a comforting soup.

However, it is important to note that not everyone may enjoy the taste of seafood in their barley water. If you do decide to add seafood, make sure to use fresh and clean seafood, and cook it thoroughly before adding it to the barley water.

Ingredients and Variations

A glass pitcher filled with barley water surrounded by Chinese ingredients like goji berries, dried red dates, and rock sugar

Choosing Barley

The most important ingredient in Chinese barley water is the barley itself. You can use either Chinese pearl barley or Holland barley. Chinese pearl barley is smaller and softer than Holland barley, which is larger and has a nuttier flavour. Both types of barley can be found in most Asian grocery stores.

When choosing barley, make sure it is fresh and has no signs of moisture or mold. You can also choose to use organic barley for a healthier option.

Sweetening Options

To sweeten your barley water, you can use different types of sugar. Rock sugar is the traditional sweetener used in Chinese barley water. It is a natural sweetener that is less processed than regular sugar. You can also use regular sugar or winter melon sugar, which is a type of Chinese candy made from winter melon.

If you prefer a healthier option, you can use honey or stevia instead of sugar.

Flavour Enhancements

Pandan leaves are often used in Chinese barley water to add a fragrant aroma. You can tie a few pandan leaves into a knot and add them to the pot while boiling the barley.

You can also add other flavour enhancements such as ginger, lemon, or orange peel to give your barley water a unique taste.

If you want to add seafood to your barley water, you can use dried scallops or dried shrimp. Simply soak them in water for a few hours before adding them to the pot with the barley. The seafood will add a rich umami flavour to your barley water.

The ingredients and variations of Chinese barley water are flexible and can be adjusted to your liking. Experiment with different sweeteners and flavour enhancements to create your own unique recipe.

Preparation Techniques

Barley grains soaking in water in a Chinese kitchen, with a pot and spoon nearby for preparation

Rinsing and Soaking

Before cooking barley water, it is important to rinse and soak the barley to remove any impurities and soften the grains. Rinse the barley with cold water in a strainer and keep running the water through the barley until it comes out clear. Soak the barley in water for at least 30 minutes or overnight, depending on the type of barley you are using.

Boiling and Simmering

To cook barley water, you will need to boil and simmer the ingredients. In a large pot, add the soaked barley, water, and any other desired ingredients, such as sugar and pandan leaves. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let the mixture simmer for at least 30 minutes or until the barley is soft and the water has turned slightly opaque.

While barley water is traditionally made without any seafood, you can experiment with adding seafood to the recipe. For example, you can add small pieces of fish or shrimp to the pot during the boiling and simmering process to infuse the broth with a seafood flavour. Alternatively, you can serve the barley water with a side of grilled prawns or scallops for a more substantial meal.

Serving and Storage

A hand pours barley water into a glass jar for storage. Ingredients and serving instructions are written in Chinese on a recipe card nearby

Best Ways to Serve

Barley water is best served chilled. Once you have prepared the barley water, let it cool down to room temperature before storing it in the fridge for a few hours to chill. You can also add ice cubes to the glass to make it even more refreshing.

If you want to add a twist to your barley water, you can try adding some lemon slices or a dash of honey to give it a zingy flavour. You can also experiment with adding other fruits such as strawberries or blueberries for a fruity twist.

Storing for Freshness

Barley water can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. To store it, transfer the barley water to a clean glass jar or bottle and seal it tightly. Make sure to label the jar or bottle with the date that you made the drink so that you can keep track of its freshness.

Before serving the stored barley water, give it a good shake to mix the ingredients well. If you notice any changes in the colour or smell of the drink, discard it immediately.

When serving the stored barley water, make sure to use clean glasses to avoid contamination. If you are serving the barley water to guests, make sure to chill the glasses beforehand to keep the drink cool for longer.

Health Benefits and Considerations

Barley grains in a pot, water pouring, ginger and orange peel nearby, steam rising, a soothing and aromatic atmosphere

Nutritional Value

Barley water is a low-calorie drink that is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of dietary fibre, which helps in digestion and promotes bowel regularity. Barley water is also high in antioxidants, which help to protect the body from damage caused by free radicals.

Barley water is a good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, magnesium, and potassium. These nutrients play a vital role in maintaining good health and preventing chronic diseases.

Dietary Impact

Barley water can be a part of a healthy diet. It is low in calories and can be a good alternative to sugary drinks. However, it is important to note that barley water can be high in carbohydrates, so it may not be suitable for people with diabetes or those on a low-carb diet.

Barley water is also a diuretic, which means that it can help to flush out excess fluids from the body. This can be beneficial for people with high blood pressure or those who are prone to water retention. However, it is important to note that barley water should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment.

Seafood Suggestion

If you want to add some extra flavour to your barley water recipe, you can consider adding seafood such as prawns or fish. Prawns are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for good health.

Fish such as salmon or mackerel are also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. When adding seafood to your barley water, be sure to cook it thoroughly to avoid any risk of foodborne illness.

Frequently Asked Questions

A clear glass pitcher filled with golden barley water, surrounded by Chinese herbs and ingredients, with a stack of recipe cards nearby

What's the ideal boiling time for barley to make water?

The ideal boiling time for barley to make water is about 30-40 minutes. You can simmer the barley in water for this duration until it becomes soft and tender. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Can you tell me the health perks of drinking Chinese barley water?

Chinese barley water is a healthy beverage that offers numerous health benefits. It helps to reduce inflammation, soothe sore throats, and clear phlegm. It also aids digestion, lowers cholesterol levels, and regulates blood sugar.

What's the proper barley to water proportion for this beverage?

The proper barley to water proportion for this beverage is one cup of barley to six cups of water. You can adjust the quantity of water based on your preference for a thicker or thinner consistency.

Is it possible to whip up barley water using a pressure cooker?

Yes, it's possible to whip up barley water using a pressure cooker. You can add the barley and water to the pressure cooker and cook it for about 20-25 minutes. However, note that the texture may be slightly different from the traditional stovetop method.

What's the best way to consume barley water for maximum benefits?

The best way to consume barley water for maximum benefits is to drink it on an empty stomach in the morning. You can also consume it throughout the day to stay hydrated and reap its health benefits.

Does barley water help in clearing out phlegm?

Yes, barley water helps in clearing out phlegm. It has anti-inflammatory properties that help to soothe the respiratory tract and reduce inflammation. Additionally, barley water helps to hydrate the body, which can also help to loosen phlegm.

As a suggestion, you can add seafood to your barley water recipe. Seafood like prawns or clams can be added to give the drink a savoury twist. Simply cook the seafood separately and add it to the barley water just before serving.