About 6 yrs ago, I was expecting my first child. It was a period of exuberance with the first belly bump, the first kick! Pregnant ladies deserve a lot of pampering. Shoes, handbags, food indulgences are all on the menu for a 9 month period. That was until my doctor had told me to cut down on my carbohydrates/ sugars. Not fair. Why couldn’t symptoms such as a rusty memory or brittle nails be my ‘pregnancy thing’!
Bowing down to my inner voice of responsibility (which was now speaking for two), I followed my doctors’ orders and started looking in to complex carbohydrates. This lead me to barley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barley) . Barley is low on the glycemic index and boasts of so many other health benefits. It has a nutty flavor and a heartier texture compared to other grains, such as rice. My favorite preparation of these little white pearls is to stir fry them with vegetables, chicken and shrimp (optional), with a fried egg and shredded lettuce on top, similar to Malaysian Fried Rice. This barley dish is spicy and zesty and the fried egg is a perfect accompaniment adding a little creaminess.
1 cup of dried barley
1 large carrot sliced about 1” long and as thin as a match stick
Approximately 13 green beans sliced in half (lengthwise) and cut in to 1” long pieces
1 green chili
1 x 2”piece of lemongrass chopped up or jarred chopped lemongrass by Thai Taste (www.thaitaste.us.com, available at Whole Foods or Food Emporium)
3 cloves of garlic
2” piece of finely sliced ginger
2 shallots finely sliced
Handful of lettuce
Sprig of fresh cilantro
Eggs (1 per person)
1. Wash and boil the barley in about 5 cups of boiling and salted water for 20 minutes. When the barley is soft and loses some of it’s color, remove from heat and drain
2. Prepare an ice bath to refresh your carrots and beans by filling a large bowl of water with ice cubes. Set a large pot of salted boiling water. Add the beans and carrots for about 1 minute, drain and put in the ice bath and drain again. (this brings out the brightness of the vegetable)
3. Make a paste by mixing the chopped chili, lemongrass and a tablespoon of oil in a mortar and pestle or blender
4. In a wok, heat the oil and fry the green chili and lemongrass paste until the oil separates
5. Add the onions for 1 minute followed by the garlic, ginger and half the scallions
6. Add the boiled barley and toss until the barley has heated through. Season with salt
7. Toss in the remaining scallions, carrots and green beans and immediately remove from the heat
8. When plating the dish, lay the stir fried barley on a plate with fried egg, shredded lettuce, cilantro leaves and a slice of lime.
Serve with a slice of lime and a few slices of green chilies and a little olek sambal.
Pearls of Wisdom
Add your blanched vegetables right at the end to avoid them breaking down and losing color and texture.