Feeding ourselves… like locals….. well almost

I saw someone in the supermarket put a box of seeds/grains in her trolley and I was curious.  I simply had to buy a box of it too.  They were labelled coix seeds which I’ve since discovered are also known as job’s tears or Chinese barley.   What to do with them?  A quick search on-line and after a couple of on-line discussions with some locals who’ve spent time abroad, I discovered that they are particularly good to use with either azuki or mung beans  to make tea or soups (as well as to substitute rice in ‘risotto’).

I decided to make a congee (rice porridge/soup) style dish for breakfast.   “Congee is a thick soup that is made from grains. There are various ways of making and serving congee, and no special skill is required. Congee can be sweet or salty, thick or thin, with many or few ingredients, it all depends on your own personal taste.”  (http://yang-sheng.com/?p=3439)

A  box of cereal typically costs around $10.00 here in Shanghai and given that I’ve been trying to remove boxed breakfasts from our diet anyway, this was the perfect occasion to experiment in the kitchen.  I soaked some coix seeds and mung beans in water overnight and in the morning cooked them for around 30minutes (adding water as needed).  I had some homemade pesto left-over so added this with some extra olive oil to serve.  The kids loved it (and incidentally, a local on-line food delivery company called ‘Fields’ also liked the recipe and offered me a gift voucher for it!)


Chinese barley + mung beans = breakfast

Next time I added Chinese dates to the soaking grains and once cooked I added coconut oil and chopped banana for a sweet version.

Some traditional additions for future versions:  black rice, millet,  black beans, dried lotus seeds, goji berries, walnuts, peanuts, black sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hard-boiled eggs  (but I’ll need to study Traditional Chinese Medicine in order to combine the right ingredients for the desired effect on the body) and some not so traditional additions might be : dried fruit (raisins, apricots), fresh fruit (mango, apple..), spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamon, ginger, cloves, turmeric),  miso, cabbage, fresh herbs, sweet potato … I’m open to other suggestions and am interested to know what you are eating for breakfast these days….. drop me a message…

I heard that Lilly bulbs have a very short season so I grabbed a few and stir-fried them with some snow peas.  Very nice, slightly bitter, creamy and crunchy at the same time.


I’ve tried some of the numerous gourds available at the moment: bitter melon, winter melon, fuzzy melon..

We’ve been enjoying sliced lotus root as an addition to salads (a good replacement for jicama which is a Mexican ingredient that I enjoyed in salads in California).  I also tried it stuffed with sticky rice with a sweet syrup (a little too sweet) which is a typical Shanghai dish.


Another typical Summer ingredient is chrysanthemum tea – below is a cup with goji berries added.


And perhaps my favorite dish so far: hunanese eggplant originating from the west of China (About.com = ‘Both Hunan and Szechuan cuisine make extensive use of chiles, …. while Szechuan recipes frequently call for chile bean paste, Hunan dishes are normally made with fresh chile peppers’)



We also tried some traditional Chinese ‘ice-creams’ made from sugar and red beans and mung beans

‘Shanghighs’:  Not sure where to put this but mother-in-law arrived for 3  weeks.

We also received 2 days of Cultural training which was excellent (thanks mother-in-law for babysitting!): it was useful to have this training as the presenter was able to answer the questions that we’d been collecting over the last 2 months.

‘Shanglows’: My son saying ‘when are we going to our real home in Santa Barbara?’


One comment on “Feeding ourselves… like locals….. well almost

  1. Anne says:

    Oh Jenni
    Sounds like you are becoming a local – finding your way around and cooking your own fusions! Fantastic sounding dishes. Poor Antoine… his need to be at his last ‘home’ will fade over time and soon he won’t imagine having lived anywhere else. Keep his memories alive (and I will send over his poster sometime), but keep creating fun times there… after all, ‘home’ will be wherever his family is 🙂

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