Between fall and winter, the air is cold and dry — time for nourishing Yin. This mouthwatering “pearl and jade” porridge warms your loved ones and prepares their hearts for winter.
This dish gets its name from the shape and pearly color of Job’s Tears (Chinese pearl barley), while mountain yam and compressed persimmon powder resemble jade.
Congee, Asian porridge, is apparently so wholesome that the Buddha said, in the Book of Discipline, that congee bestows life, beauty and strength, dispels hunger, thirst, and wind, purifies the bladder, and aids digestion.*
Chinese people have enjoyed congee for eons. The earliest record dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period and Warring States Era (770 – 221 BC). During the Tang and Song Dynasties, congee became a popular remedy for clearing lungs, easing coughs and strengthening the spleen.
Yin in nature, persimmon powder — the white residue on persimmon fruit — mitigates coughs, reduces phlegm, and nourishes lungs. Job’s Tears are to thank for better lungs, kidneys, and spleen functions while mountain yam enhances saliva production and nourishes those same organs.
2 ounces (60g) mountain yam
⅓ cup (60g) Job’s Tears or Chinese pearl barley
¼ cup (24g) persimmon powder, loose or compressed
1⅔ cups (400ml) water
1. Soak Job’s tears in water for 3 hours.
2. Pestle mountain yam and Job’s Tears separately.
3. Cook mountain yam in water on high heat. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.
4. Add Job’s Tears and cook for 4 minutes. Turn off heat.
5. Remove from stove; then stir in chopped compressed persimmon powder.
6. Eat a small bowl once or twice a day.
Note: Do not eat persimmon powder with crab. Mountain yam is unsuitable for those prone to constipation.
Photography by Hsuyi Shih