I remember the boiled pearl barley (and sugarcane juice) from childhood days growing up in my Chinese grandmother’s house. Even my Mum would boil it for us sometimes especially when the weather is hot because pearl barley has cooling properties.
Did you know that Koreans drink a barley tea regularly in place of water? If you go to a genuine Korean restaurant (and not those franchised sensations), you’ll be served this barley tea. I actually prefer the Korean barley tea’s light flavour over the Japanese green tea.
Anyway, now that the weather is so hot, my Mum boiled some pearl barley soup for the preschooler but surprisingly, he only drank one bottle and didn’t ask for more. Hehehe, it turns out that he prefers his mummy’s recipe over Grandma’s!
I actually created this recipe during a hot summer because somehow, I thought that pandanus leaves were needed. And since you can’t find pandanus leaves in China, I thought of other ingredients to add flavour to the drink.
Here’s the recipe that has my preschooler drinking at least 3 bottles at one time (and asking for more!):
Almost 1 litre of water (filling up about 3/4 of the slow cooker)
A handful of local Chinese pearl barley (I once tried the wild Tibetan barley, which has smaller grains but they were not as flavourful to me)
5 – 6 strips of candied wintermelon
Brown rock sugar to taste
1. Soak the pearl barley for about an hour or so until the grains soften.
2. Dump everything into the slow cooker and go do your own thing
3. Within 2 hours or so, the aroma of boiling barley will waft through your kitchen. Switch off the slow cooker and keep the lid half open to cool it down.
NOTES: You may find this recipe a bit on the sweet side and that’s because I tend to add a bit of hot water so that he drinks a warm bottle of pearl barley each time.
However, since he’s discovered ice cool drinks and asks for for cold barley, I cut down on the amount of rock sugar I use. The drink keeps well for 1-2 days in the fridge. Please throw it away if you see bubbles foaming on the top as this means it’s gone rancid.