Using Pearl Barley as a Thickener in this Beef & Carrot Stew Recipe

When that terrible haze struck Singapore last year, I had been constantly stocking up my pantry with green beans, barley and chrysanthemum that are known for their ‘cooling’ properties as the older folks always reminded us to consume them so we could achieve a yin-yang balance in the body and minimise our chances of falling ill especially in unpredictable, bad climate. Since young, I had a weak constitution and poor immune system so I was the kind who easily developed a sore throat (followed by fever + other symptoms) after eating fried food or durians. It still happens now but not as frequent anymore because I exercise more care in my selections of food. But I really treasure those words of wisdom from the older generation with regards to this ‘heaty’ or ‘cooling’ phenomenon.

Anyway, I was just reading up about some random ingredients and I found out that pearl barley could be used to thicken soups and stews instead of using cream or corn starch. I’ve never used pearl barley in my cooking before and since I was planning to make a beef stew, I decided to just add some pearl barley in it and see what I could come up with.

The husband and I were pleasantly surprised by the taste and flavour of the whole thing. The barley made this a really hearty stew and I did like its chewy bite too. Everything just seemed to work seamlessly. Delicious!

Beef Carrot Casserole with Pearl Barley

Beef & Carrot Stew with Pearl Barley Recipe

Ingredients (serves 2-3)
320g beef chuck, cut into cubes
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 carrots, thickly sliced
6 celery sticks, sliced
3 tbsp pearl barley, rinsed
800ml water
1 beef cube
salt & freshly cracked black pepper

1. Heat a little oil in pan and brown the beef.
2. Add the onions, carrots and celery and briefly stir fry with the beef.
3. Add the pearl barley, beef cube and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 – 1 1/2 hours till the beef is tender and sauce is thickened.
5. Serve on its own or over rice.

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