Swiss Chard with White Beans and Job’s Tears

by on May 10, 2012
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Swiss Chard with White Beans and Job's Tears

I first went in search of Job’s tears a couple of years ago when a reader recommended it as a gluten-free replacement for barley. After striking out at the local natural foods store, I thought for sure I’d be able to buy some on the internet, but a Google shopping search pointed me to a page full of rosary beads and skin whitening cosmetics. Clearly, the elusive Job’s tears had other uses than just as a simple grain.

I finally stumbled upon a bag of hato mugi, the Japanese name for Job’s tears, quite by accident in a Korean grocery store. I bought a bag, brought it home, and stuck it in my freezer (which is where I keep my grains since an Invasion of the Pantry Moths a few years ago). There were no general directions in English on the package, just a recipe for making it into porridge, which isn’t what I wanted to do, so I left it to age gently in the freezer while I did some research on cooking time and water to grain ratio and anything else I needed to know. And like my Google shopping search, I once again found nothing relevant. So I did what anyone else would do: I just guessed. I put a half cup of the grain into a pot with 2 cups of water and cooked it until it was soft, about an hour. Then I drained it and threw it into the dish I was making for dinner.

Polished Job's Tears

Polished Job's Tears

And it was good. The cooked Job’s tears had a lightly chewy texture and a flavor that’s hard to describe; it reminded me most of hominy, though the cooked grains were about half the size. Only after I’d cooked it did it occur to me to consult the one reference book I own that was sure to have some info, Rebecca Wood’s The Splendid Grain, where I found out that the Job’s tears I had bought were the less desirable polished form of the grain. I also found out why my first search had yielded rosary beads:

Job’s tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) is a tall grass that has been cultivated in Africa and Asia for centuries. Its name comes from the shape of the unhulled grain, which suggests a teardrop, an ebony-color teardrop. Throughout the world, rosary beans and other prayer beads are made from unhulled Job’s tears. The grain is also used to make attractive, durable, and inexpensive necklaces.

Wood goes on to say that Job’s tears, one of the few nonhybridized grains available today, has to be imported because it doesn’t grow in North America. Unpolished, it has a reddish-brown color, but when hulled and polished, it looks a little like pearl barley with a deep groove down one side. Job’s tears should be picked over before cooking and any darker or damaged-looking grains discarded because they will give a bitter taste to the whole pot.

Rainbow Swiss Chard

I harvested the last of my winter crop of rainbow chard last weekend and wanted to use it in a quick skillet dinner with white beans. I thought it could use a hearty grain, something bigger than quinoa or millet or rice, something that wouldn’t get lost among the leaves and beans. That’s why I reached for my unopened bag of Job’s tears, but any larger grain will do. If you can’t find Job’s tears, try it with barley or, if you’re gluten-free, buckwheat groats or canned hominy.

Swiss Chard with White Beans and Job's Tears

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ann May 10, 2012 at 11:06 am

I’m Chinese and we’ve eaten job’s tears for centuries :). It’s a beauty “secret” of ours and we usually have it with mungs beans, simmered together in plain water and sweetened with good quality sugar. It is usually served cold in summer because according to Chinese medicine both mung beans and job’s tears help get rid of excess heat, detox, and fight against acne. We also make job’s tears milk the way you can make soymilk or almond milk etc. Love this recipe, will try it out :D

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2 Susan Voisin May 10, 2012 at 11:12 am

Thanks for that information! I’m particularly interested in trying the milk made from job’s tears. Do you use the polished grain for that?

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3 Ann May 10, 2012 at 4:48 pm

You can use both polished and unpolished grains, polished grains make a “cleaner-tasting” milk(with a color resembling that of real milk, so lots of people prefer it that way), while whole job’s tears leave a nuttier aftertaste.

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4 Healthy Living Val May 10, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I’ve never heard of these before. I’ll have to check them out at one of the Asian groceries around me. Would love to hear some more recipe ideas for using these!

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5 Somer May 10, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I love that even though I consider myself pretty out there with my vegan pantry, that you always introduce me to something I have never even heard of!!!

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6 Jody May 10, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Hi Susan, I have a book from Amazon.com “Amazing Grains- Creating Vegetarian Main Dishes with Whole Grains” by Joanne Saltzman and it’s full of recipes calling for Job’s Tears. I haven’t had any luck finding them at any of the natural markets in my area. I do occasionally shop at Korean markets, so I will definitely check there.
Thanks!

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7 Susan Voisin May 11, 2012 at 10:01 am

Thanks for the tip about that book, Jody! I just picked up Amazing Grains on Amazon for $4, including shipping. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with Jobs’ tears.

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8 Lindsey (Cafe Johnsonia) May 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Wow! I’ve never heard of Job’s Tears before. I’m excited to find some and try them out. I’ve been missing barley so much since going GF.

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9 Donna May 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Jobs tears remind me of black eyed peas

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10 Karen May 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Found them on the Eden Organic site. You were right on the cooking time. They recommended toasting first.

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11 Karen May 10, 2012 at 6:38 pm

Amazon has them

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12 Susan Voisin May 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Not the kind you can eat, at least not in stock when I search for them.

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13 moonwatcher May 10, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Hi Susan,

This was really interesting about the Job’s Tears, and the skillet dinner looks great too. Your chard is gorgeous. I think I might try a version of this with kasha– as always, you’ve given me some good information and ideas, and mouth-watering photos, too.

I am in admiration of your ability to have “winter” swiss chard. :)

xoxo

moonwatcher

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14 robyn May 10, 2012 at 7:20 pm

fyi goldmine natural foods in california has been stocking jobs tears for years they are a great resource for many vegan products

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15 Karen May 10, 2012 at 8:09 pm

Simply Natural has Nato Mugi 1 & 5 lb bags

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16 Susan Voisin May 10, 2012 at 8:33 pm
17 Katie May 10, 2012 at 10:45 pm

Susan, thank you for writing about Jobs Tears. I have had the same package in my cupboard for months and made one tentative foray into using them. I too realized they were stripped of their most nutritious outer part. Just like I only eat brown not white rice, I would love to find the unpolished variety of this grain. Have you found any source for it? Thanks!

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18 Susan Voisin May 10, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I haven’t found it yet, but when I do, I’ll post a link to it here. Like you, I think the polished kind is more processed than I want.

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19 Katie Loss May 11, 2012 at 7:49 am

Thanks, Susan! Not knowing how to cook them, I made mine Job’s Tears in a rice cooker. Since it seemed to be like barley, I put a little extra water in than I normally do for rice. It worked well. It’s such an interesting grain!

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20 Kale Crusaders May 11, 2012 at 5:48 am

I admire your determination, Susan! Thanks for sharing a beautiful recipe and new-to-me ingredient.

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21 Jeanette May 11, 2012 at 6:50 am

I’ve seen something like this at the Asian grocery store, but thought it was just some form of barley. I’ve never heard of Job’s Tears – love that name.

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22 Lauren May 11, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I just wanted to let you know that I have no idea what i’d do without your blog, i LOVE it! It helped me transition from vegetarian to vegan a few years ago, you made it so much easier. I also began to make at least 3 recipes a week from your blog (a lot of them make great leftovers :) ) and have lost 26 pounds since then. You are awesome, your food is awesome, and thanks so much again! I hope one day you publish a cookbook or something, because everything i find on here is better than a lot of vegan cookbooks out there :)

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23 Cate May 14, 2012 at 2:59 am

Love this recipe. Have never heard of Jacob’s tears so will hunt some down if I can. The photos of your rainbow chard made my mouth water! I’m so excited about growing my own this year.

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24 Amy May 16, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Hello Susan, This recipe looks wonderful. I am nominating you for the Versatile Blogger Award (http://versatilebloggeraward.wordpress.com/vba-rules/) and will feature a link to your site on my blog Amy’s Nutritarian Kitchen (amysnutritariankitchen.blogspot.com). Keep the great recipes coming! :)- Amy

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25 Reia May 17, 2012 at 8:58 am

Thank you for the info on Job’s tears. This recipe looks delicious, I would definitely go out of my way to find them to use.

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26 Mark Pruitt May 25, 2012 at 9:44 am

Great recipe! I have been Vegan for one year now and loving it. It has been a little more challenging lately because I have cut my grain and soy intake, just to see what it is like with some foods that are know for imfamaation. Do you find most people are eating for health or animal rights.

http://vegafarmista.blogspot.com/

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27 Karen May 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Made this tonight using barley in place of the job’s tears. Delicious – thanks for the recipe!

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28 Vegan May 28, 2012 at 6:49 am

This is my first time to encounter Job’s tear and it fascinates me. I am curious about the taste. What do you think is a good substitute for Swiss Chard?

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29 Susan Voisin May 28, 2012 at 7:39 am

Almost any kind of greens will work, but I think kale would taste the best.

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30 Jenna June 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm

Interesting! These grow like weeds along many of the streams on the Big Island. As children it’s one of the things we would make necklaces out of to sell to tourists. I live in Los Angeles now, but I must find some to cook with!

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31 pamela July 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I bought (polished) Job’s tears at a Chinese Herb Store. The Proprietess suggested washing them in water, change the water then soak 10 minutes wash rub fingers scrub them then drain, add new water and repeat this 2 more times. Then simmer 1 hour, toss water. Then add to a soup. Very important to cook well for proper digestion. I found another package at Vietnamese Grocery Store and the package had a warning: contains sulfites. I suppose this is why the soaking and washing is important.
I pressure cooked them one hour instead of simmering, and they were nice and soft.
WEB MD has a note to stop eating them 2 weeks before surgery due to lowering blood sugar efect of Job’s tears.

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32 Carol Carlisle July 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm

You comented in your article that Job’s Tears do not grow in the US. A number of years ago when I was living in central Texas, I did grow Job’s Tears one year. I don’t remember where I got the seeds, but they did grow successfully. At the time, I was thinking “beads” but did not know they were edible. Wish I had known! I think they would grow here in Coastal Mississippi because the temperature is right, but they might not because of our high humidity and relatively heavy rainfall. Carol C.

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33 Christine August 22, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I happened upon your awesome blog looking for a recipe using Job’s tears I can’t wait to give it a whirl! I am new to cooking with the grain I have only made soup with it. I look forward to trying out your yummy dish using Swiss Chard! Love all the info here and I will be back…. A lot!! :)

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34 Christine August 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm

For those that can’t find Jobs Tears (Hato Mugi) in their area markets I purchase mine on line at at place called simply natural: http://www.simply-natural.biz/Hato-Mugi_Prem.php
(I am not paid or affiliated with this site but I do order many products from them that I can not get in my area the delivery is fast and the quality is really good)

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35 Tabitha October 17, 2012 at 12:43 am

I made this for dinner last night, but didn’t have any Job’s tears or barley, so I used a small amount of brown rice. This was a seriously easy and delicious meal!

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36 Radhika Sarohia December 22, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Never even heard of Job Tears, learn something new every day
Stumbled upon this post while looking for vegan white bean and chard recipes
Swiss Chard is awesome and I ought to have more of it, along with fresh spinach too

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37 Troyann January 7, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Dear Susan,

Thank you for this wonderful recipe for Job’s Tears.

I just have to share with you an experience I had of Job’s Tears.

We have a wonderful International Market here in Greensboro, NC and every time I go I try to purchase something I’ve never seen or heard of before.

On one occassion I purchased a bag of Job’s Tears.

When I got home I put the (high quality, professionally sealed) bag in my pantry – knowing that I would need to do an Internet search for a recipe.

Well… I completely forgot about them until about a month later.

As I was preparing my dinner for the evening I opened the bag of Job’s Tears, set it down on the counter and walked over to the sink. As I was walking back to the bag there were LOTS of tiny little gray SPIDERS ***JUMPING*** out of the bag! (Not exaggerating — they were SPIDERS and they were JUMPING — YIKES!!!)

Needless to say, I was completely creeped out!

I have never considered buying another bag – ever – until just now when I saw your article and read that they are GLUTEN FREE! Well… now I’m going to have to – very cautiously – try them again.

Thank you for also mentioning the buckwheat groat as being gluten free. Don’t know what that is yet but I am definitely going to go and find some.

You’re my new BFF of the day ;-)

Thanks again for your article and recipe!!!
Troyann Williams

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38 Odin January 23, 2013 at 10:46 pm

I enjoy a lot of your recipes, but this week am only cooking from your blog recipes, well, except for Tuesday which is always Taco Tuesday (vegan, of course). Thanks for sharing all of your work with the rest of us vegans.

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39 Trace September 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm

http://jennyhoople.com/about/jobs-tears This woman is growing them in the US.

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40 Reg Burkett March 13, 2014 at 1:52 am

It is available everywhere here, in Thailand. I was about to cook some up that I purchased a few months ago, when my wife noticed that the unopened bag was full of ants! Of course, that is not much concern to her, since insects are part of the national diet here, but I think I will try to pick out most of the ants before cooking.
I am trying to incorporate more beans and nuts in my diet and Jacob’s Tears look like a nice addition.

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