Sunday, September 2, 2012

Don't Cry Over Spilled Hato Muji

I found this grain--Job's Tears, or hato muji, at the Albany food co-op several months ago. I'd never heard of it before, and it was supremely expensive, so I just had to try it. It is an ancient grain that looks and acts like barley, but isn't. It has all kinds of uses (medicinal, nutritional, artistic), but I planned to use it for a cold summer salad.

Ever since I stopped eating quinoa (here's why) I've been searching for an alternative grain. While hato muji is almost prohibitively expensive, it is really tasty.

I couldn't find a recipe for it anywhere, so I made one up based on a recipe I found for barley salad.

Apricot-Grain Summer Salad

1 1/2 cups hato muji
8 cups water
1 cube bouillion (veggie, mushroom)
[or you can use 2-4 cups of stock in place of the same proportion of water]
1/2 cup sliced dried apricot
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1 cup diced yellow pepper
1 cup finely diced onion
4 cloves diced garlic
1 tbsp diced ginger
2 tbsp olive oil, or toasted sesame oil (or a combination)
1/2 cup sliced toasted almond

Combined water/broth with the hato muji and bring to a boil. Simmer for at least an hour (frequently checking toward the end) until the grain is firm but chewy. While the grain is cooking, sautee in a cast iron pan the onion, garlic, and ginger in olive oil until tender and just beginning to brown. When the grain is done cooking, toss in a large bowl with the sliced apricots, shredded carrot, and the sauteed onion mixture. Quickly sautee over high heat the diced yellow bell pepper until some of the pieces are singed. Toss into the grain. Garnis with toasted sliced or chopped almonds. It's a nice alternative to a potato-based dish for a main dish of pork loin or ribs, or just on it's own.

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