Monday, September 21, 2009
Barley Water aka Ee Bee Chui
Whenever my mother felt that there was an onset of an illness to anyone in the family, she would religiously believe in her ancient folk medicines and the mysterious healing power of the herbal teas that she brewed in a earthen kettle over a charcoal stove. Incidentally, the thought of having to drink the bitter herbal concoction was enough for us to make any sickness to go away. However, her first line of attack for any illness was making us to drink gallons of barley water. By the way, I am not talking about the stuff you buy in in a can or bottle. I'm talking about the viscous stuff she make up herself. It was the slimy viscosity of the homemade brew which did the trick and you don't get this in the brands you buy off the super market shelves these days. Brewed barley water is a traditional Chinese cooling drink; the addition of lemon is a fusion of Western idea and many would agree that the homemade brew is vastly superior to the commercial variety. You most likely to be served homemade barley water at most kopitiams (coffeeshops) in Singapore when you ordered "Ee bee chui"
Home made barley water is made by cooking pearl barley at the ratio of ten parts of water to one part of pearl barley, then slowly simmered until the grain is very soft then finished in a number of ways. There are recipes that call for the water to be strained after reducing the liquid, after letting the mixture stand for several hours to allow the barley to really soften or strain as soon as the liquid is cooled.
Barley Water with Candied Winter Melon Recipe:
200g pearl barley
100g candied winter melon (optional)
150g rock sugar
In a large saucepan, bring all the ingredient to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Cool slightly before straining. Serve warm or chilled.