Chinese Pearl Barley and 2 Recipes 薏米食谱 

  1. Homemade Chinese Soups
  2. Chinese herbs
  3. Chinese pearl barley

Chinese pearl barley has no connection to barley. They are not even from the same genus.

Chinese pearl barley has been frequently mistaken as pearled barley. In Singapore, many food packages mis-translated them too. It means that if you wanted to buy Chinese pearl barley, you might end up with pearled barley instead. It is important to be able to differentiate the two if you intend to consume job's tears for its curative and medicinal properties. To clear the air, here are 2 pictures of the 2 grains.

The Chinese name is 薏苡仁 (yi yi ren) or 薏仁 (yi ren) or 薏米 (yi mi). The scientific name for Chinese pearl barley is coix lachryma-jobi L. var. ma-yuen.  Folk names include Job's tears or coix seeds. There are 2 varieties: one variety is commonly used as beads in jewelry making. The other is our Chinese herb.

It bears a slight resemblance to pearled barley 小麦仁 (xiao mai ren) and is most commonly grown in China, so it has been called the Chinese pearl barley.

The Chinese believes that the Chinese pearl barley is diuretic, anti-swelling, pus-expelling and cooling. It is therefore most commonly recommended to people suffering from stiff and painful joints, rheumatism, warts and eczema. Findings from recent scientific research conducted by Japanese scientists have been positive.

Chinese pearl barley is usually prepared in soups or congee as it is a grain and requires boiling. 

Recipe 1: Sweet dessert with Chinese pearl barley, lotus seeds and red dates

This barley recipe contains Chinese pearl barley, lotus seeds and red dates and is a sweet Chinese soupy dessert. It is a very light dessert, a gentle way to end a meal. People with stiff and painful joints, rheumatism, warts and eczema may find it helpful. Frequently served to the elderly as a nourishing dessert.


  • 100g Chinese pearl barley
  • 150g lotus seeds
  • 10 red dates
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 8 cups water


  1. Deseed the lotus seeds
  2. Wash the lotus seeds and red dates
  3. Wash the barley and soak for 1 hour
  4. Bring the water to a boil and add the barley, lotus seeds and red dates
  5. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer till everything is cooked
  6. Add sugar to taste

Recipe 2: Congee with Chinese pearl barley, pork, taro and rice


  • 115g Chinese pearl barley
  • 200g taro
  • 75g lean pork
  • 1/2 cup of rice
  • 12 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Soak the Chinese pearl barley for 2 hours and drain
  2. Wash and dice the yam
  3. Wash and slice the lean pork thinly
  4. Marinate the pork slices with soy sauce and pepper
  5. Sprinkle cornstarch and mix well
  6. Leave the pork slices to stand
  7. Bring the water to a boil, add the rice and barley
  8. Continue to cook for 50 minutes (transfer to a slow cooker if you like) Add the yam and pork and cook for a further 10 minutes
  9. Add the salt to taste

Happy Souping, Phoebe

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