Friday, 21 August 2015

Barley Legal

Orzo Perlato con Peperone Rosso, Pomodorini, Zenzero & Gamberi
Pearl Barley with Red Pepper, Cherry Tomatoes, Shrimps & Ginger


Do you want to know what I really love to cook? Actually, if you check-in to my posts regularly, you will already know that what I love to cook most of all are the really simple ingredients. And in particular, I get great satisfaction from preparing something totally delicious from a product that many people would actually "turn their nose up" at... Case in point- pearl barley.

I myself have always loved ts chewy consistency and nutty flavor, but strangely enough, especially here in Germany, it has so a poor image and bad reputation that it is a kind-of running gag with some of my colleagues at work that I like it. Well, all I can say is- tough luck for you! Because quite plainly, you just don't know what you are missing!


Now, I have no way of knowing what kind of traumatic experiences people must have had in their childhoods, but quite plainly, they have never had barley prepared properly before... Which is a shame as it is so easy to do!

With just a few simple ingredients, I transformed this simple cupful of grains into an amazing dish that I would have been proud to have served to guests any time! It was absolutely second to none!


So to prepare this wonderful dish, I needed my little potful of barley (about 1 teacup), 1 red pepper, 1 shallot, 1 small stalk of celery, 1 small carrot, a few slices of ginger, 5-6 cherry tomatoes, some fresh parsley, salt, pepper, olive oil and 4-5 nice, good-sized shrimps.


There is so much flavor in this dish and it all comes from the ingredients themselves, with nothing more than salt and pepper to bring out the best in them... You won't believe it!

All I can say to you is that if you don't find the images appetizing, then I am sorry for you... And if you try this and then claim to still not like barley... Then there is no hope for you! lol!


The "secret" to making this dish so flavorful, is simply having a good stock to season it with and you make this simply by using the shells of the shrimp, some carrot and celery, the stalks of the parsley and a couple of slices of ginger. Fry these together in a saucepan in a little olive oil until the shrimp shells turn bright red and then pour in plenty of boiling water- 4 times the quantity of water in fact as you have barley. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer and allow to bubble away whilst you prepare the other ingredients for your barley.

I hope you like chopping as much as I do... Because all of the other ingredients need to be chopped up very finely! But we are only talking about half of a carrot, half a stick of celery, 1 shallot, 1 pepper and a handful of cherry tomatoes... So stop whining and just get on with it!


The carrot, celery and shallot act of course your classic Italian "soffritto" and will serve as the starting point- so get them sizzling in a little olive oil and get ready to put everything together!

After 2-3 minutes, add the barley and stir it in, until it is also lightly coated by the oil and sizzling along with the rest.

Now add the pepper and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and get ready to add that delicious broth!


Strain the broth through a sieve and add it to the barley, stir it I. Well, bring it to the boil, then reduce to a low simmer, put on the lid and let it bubble away for 30 minutes.


After half an hour, most of the broth will have been absorbed and the barley will have swollen up to almost 3-times its size! At this point, add a good pinch of finely chopped parsley and top-up with a little more water if necessary. Return to the stove for a further 10 minutes of simmering, whilst you prepare the shrimps to serve with it.

I fried the shrimp with plenty of pepper and a slice of ginger to infuse the oil with flavor, but you could of course add garlic if you so wish... I just chose not too. The same goes of course for the broth and also applies to other options like adding chili for example... But I just write about my supper you know! I am not a dictator!


Serve piping hot, with the sizzling shrimp on top, a good sprinkle of finely chopped parsley, a last grind of pepper and a last trickle of olive oil... And be prepared to be surprised!


It looks good and it Is good... And I think it would be a good idea if you were to give it a try! I for one know that I shall be making it again!


Because for heavens sakes... What's not to like?!?!!!

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