Barley with Fuchok and Gingko Nuts

Have a cough?  How about a fever?  Sore throat?  No problem – drink some barley tea!

Pearl Barley

Pearl barley

Never heard of barley tea before?  Well, you have now.  Growing up, my mom boiled up a lot of barley tea for when we were sick, a little under the weather or just needing comfort.  The Chinese believe that barley is a cooling food so when you’re coughing, or have a fever, you need the drink to balance out your heatiness.  I don’t really know if I believe this, but hey, it tastes really good so I don’t argue.

Served hot or cold, it’s very refreshing on any day.  Basically, you just boil some pearl barley with lots of water, add some rock sugar (or plain ol’ white sugar), and oh, if you happen to have some pandan leaves, throw a bunch of that in too.  Boil it until the barley gets soft and then drink it.  If you want, eat the barley too.

Boilling Barley Tea with Pandan

boiling barley tea with pandan

This past week, my son Daniel has been coughing a lot.  Since my mom is visiting from Malaysia, she of course boiled some barley for him.  He LOVED it and has been asking for more (we’ve run out and have to go get more pearls). I think this is a tradition that will carry on in my family.

Now this post isn’t really about simple barley tea because that is just too easy.  There is a tong sui (soupy dessert) served in Malaysia (and yes, other countries too, but c’mon, I’m going to say in Malaysia cuz duh…I’m from there!) that features barley but is even more tasty by adding some special treats in it.

Gingko Nuts

gingko nuts

All these ingredients are delicious and also good for you.  How is it good?  Well, you have barley, which is a whole grain.  Then you have gingko nuts which are known to aid in memory, increase blood flow…oh, just google it and read it up yourself–the list is long!  Then there’s fuchok (which is dried soybean curd, which is tofu!  And we all know how good tofu is for you!).

Fuchok (Bean Curd Sheets)

fuchok - bean curd sheets

Just one note on the fuchok.  Do make sure you get the right kind.  There are two types–one is thicker and meant for savory foods (like stews and soups) and the other (the one we want) is thinner and crumbles easily when crushed.  Some of the better ones will even melt in your barley drink when you boil it (which will make it almost like soybean milk).  But it’s ok if it doesn’t melt, it will get nice and soft which gives it a velvety, silky texture when you drink it.

Crumbled Fuchok

crumbled fuchok

Barley with Fuchok and Gingko

1/2 cup barley pearls, rinsed
10 cups water
4-5 pandan leaves (if you can’t find fresh leaves, look in the freezer section in your Asian grocery store–that’s where we found ours)
1 package of fuchok (dried bean curd), crushed
1 can gingko nuts (if you can get fresh, certainly use it but don’t forget to remove to bitter middle green bit)
1 egg, beaten
10 quail’s eggs, boiled and peeled (optional)
2-3 pieces of rock sugar (or substitute with white sugar), to taste

Chinese rock sugar

Chinese rock sugar

1. Place barley, pandan leaves (knotted up to keep them all together for easier fishing out), and water in a large pot and bring to boil.  Once it’s boiled, simmer for 45 more minutes.
2.  Add crushed fuchok and stir it in, bring to boil again and then simmer till fuchok has melted or gotten soft, about 20-30 minutes.
3.  Add rock sugar.  Start with two pieces and when melted, taste.  If not sweet enough, add a third piece. 
4.  Stir the soup, and while it’s swirling, slowly drizzle the beaten egg in to form a ribbon in the soup.

Stirring the Barley Soup with Pandan and Fuchok

Stirring the barley soup with pandan and fuchok

5.  Add quail’s eggs if desired.  I used to love this when I was younger but my mom no longer adds this as she thinks that the cholesterol is not worth it.  Maybe I’ll add it the next time.

Fish out the pandan leaves and discard.  Serve the soup hot or cold.

Sweet Barley Soup with Fuchok and Gingko Nuts

Sweet Barley Soup with Fuchok and Gingko Nuts

This is a pretty easy dessert to make so if you have access to the ingredients (most can be found at your Asian grocery store), do give it a try.  Enjoy!

This article was entered in the Weekend Herb Blogging roundup created by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen and hosted by Trembom.

Cheers, Annie

30 thoughts on “Barley with Fuchok and Gingko Nuts”

  1. >Hello — this sounds familiar… so much like HOME !! Send my love to your mum, hope she is having a great time, and of course hope you guys are taking time off from cooking 🙂


  2. >Annie, this is a fabulouos post. I was hooked from the title. The way you explain about it all . I really loved to know about barley and its cooling effect. I will ensure that i have some around now that autumn is around us on this side of the pond – i am in the UK. i was reading your post and making notes, like when at school.I will most certainly subscribe to your emails as reading this good cannot be missed.

  3. >My mom makes a similar tong sui with ginko, fuchok, and egg, but I’ve never tried it with barley before. Looks very comforting!

  4. >God knows I really need this right now. Got woken up at 4.30am with the sorest throat ever.

    And I remember that brand of barley, my mom uses it always 🙂

  5. >I didn’t make this Chinese dessert in such a long time. I have problem with the fuchok here as they stay intack even I boil it for over 2 hours and it doesn’t look anything like yours. I have to keep an eye on the brand you posted. Thanks Annie for sharing.

  6. >This makes me want to poke around in the Asian grocery for a few hours. What do ginko nuts taste like? I’ve wanted to buy some to try and make chawan mushi.

  7. >My mom used to make tong sui but didn’t use barley. I must try your recipe soon. Sometimes they’ll serve it to use at Chinese restaurants here as a complimentary dessert and it’s always such a treat!

  8. >Maaaannn… I wish I had fond memories of under-the-weather comfort food/drink. All I got was bitter mystery concoctions containing Chinese Harry Potter-ish sounding ingredients. And forget about tong sui. I have vague memories of Mom taking the time and energy to make grass jelly from scratch. But then she skimped on making the sugar water. Instead, she topped it with Log Cabin pancake syrup. “It’s the same thing!” Maybe that’s why I devour your es teler.

  9. >@JT – Hi! *waves* hey, you ARE home! You don’t have to cook – just go out makan lah!

    @Jin – thanks, so do we!

    @Valentina – *blush* thanks for the compliment. It’s a lot of work but comments like these make it worth it.

    @friedwontons4u – huh. I always thought barley was the main component.

    @Robert – send some our way!

  10. >ha ha so funny. i’m just getting over a sore throat and cough and now my mom is down with sore throat, fever, and cough… and i read your posting 🙂


  11. >@Expedited writer – sounds bad. Quick, boil some barley!

    @noobcook – mine too! I love it when Mum makes this.

    @ICook4Fun – Those are probably for stews then. I hope you find the right one.

    @Maggie – they have a mildly sweet, nutty flavor.

    @Jenster – funny, around here they usually give us red bean tong sui, not barley.

    @J – you crack us up! You should have your own blog.

  12. >Looks amazing.. a sweet egg drop soup, if you don’t mind me calling it that.. Love the variety of unfamiliar ingredients in your post.

  13. >@Jude – thanks. I realize not everybody can get these ingredients. We’ll try to keep the recipes to things that people are more likely to have. As long as you indulge us every once in a while 😉

  14. >I’m always making the Japanese version of the barley tea – mugi-cha, and I didn’t know it was so good for colds! I love ginko nuts too and this is a fabulous recipe!

  15. >@ Anna – Mugicha is roasted barley tea, which is great served cold in the summertime. The barley tea described here is made from unroasted barley, so it doesn’t have those toasted, caramel-ey flavors.

  16. >I have been looking for barley for a long time, now I have to look for fuchok, too! 🙂 This recipe sounds too good not to try!

  17. >Thanks for stopping by my blog — and the explanation of the barley tea difference, I wouldn’t have caught it otherwise. Now I’ll have to do some culinary exploring with that and find some unroasted as well as some pandan leaves.

  18. >What a fantastic post. This sounds so interesting. I have heard about this barley tea before and I’ve wanted to try pandan leaves since someone from Singapore wrote about them way back in the very early days of WHB!

  19. >@Anna Haight – you’re welcome, and good luck!

    @Anna – thanks!

    @Kalyn – I hope you can find some pandan around. It’s not easy, but perhaps an Asian grocery might have it in the freezer section. Otherwise, there’s always bottled pandan extract.

  20. >Fu Chok Thong Sui!! OMG!! This is something that I haven’t had for ages!! I remember my landlady (while I was studying in KL) made this every weekend and she always offered me a bowl!! The first time I had time, I thought it was a bit weird, but after a few good spoonful, I thought it was really nice!! I will attempt this!!

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