Job's Tears

Job's tears.

These protein-packed seeds, filled with amino acids, fiber and antioxidants, are poised to become the next big thing in grains.

What Is It?

Job’s tears are a member of the grass family, and get their dramatic name from a teardrop-shaped husk and the way the stems bend toward the ground due to their weight. Sometimes called Chinese pearl barley – a misnomer – or coix seed, the seeds are distinctive. They’re fat, white, and round, with a deep channel running through the center. When cooked, they have a delightfully chewy texture with a flavor that’s both nutty and popcornlike.

What Do I Do With It?

First, you have to find it. Although gaining popularity with chefs, the grain can still be difficult to source. You might find Job’s tears at Asian or international markets under the Chinese pearl barley label, or you can order it online – it’s worth it. Traditionally, powdered Job’s tears are used in Korea to make a thick, warm beverage, while in China, simmering it whole and adding sugar yields a tealike drink. The seeds, however, have a fantastic chew: It adds texture to soups and satisfying bulk to salads. Try mixing Job’s tears with grains like bulgur or amaranth and fresh herbs as a side dish, or use it as a bed for roasted vegetables. Don’t discard the cooking liquid: It has a light, corn-meets-chicken broth flavor ideal for thinning sauces and dressings.

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Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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