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Vegetable Barley Stew

Rice or barley stews seasoned with miso or umeboshi are the Japanese mother's cure-all. Maitake adds its healing and rejuvenating qualities to make this an even healthier dish. Enjoy this creamy, soothing stew any time during the colder months, especially if you’re feel weak or out of balance. And make plenty - this dish tastes best a day or two after it’s made.

Serves 6



  1. Wash the barley and put in a large saucepan with the maitake, water, and kombu. Use a small plate or bowl to keep mushrooms submerged, and soak for 1-3 hours. Take the kombu out, and keep it for another time.
  2. Remove the maitake, chop them finely, and put them back in the pan. Bring the liquid to the boil over a medium heat, and add salt and a bay leaf. Lower the heat and simmer with the lid on but ajar, until the barley is tender. This will be about 45 minutes, or an extra 20 minutes or so for a creamier texture.
  3. Add oregano and all the vegetables except the greens. Simmer 10 minutes. Add kale and simmer for 15 minutes more. Remove from heat. In a cup, dilute the miso in a little bit of hot water, and add it to the stew. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or spring onion, and serve hot.


John & Jan BellemeJohn & Jan Belleme

John & Jan Belleme are leading autorities on the healing powers of traditional Japanese foods. Before turning his focus to food and health, John was a research biologist for the Veteran's association in Miami, Florida, and he worked in laboratories at the Universities of Miami Medical School and Harvard University Medical School.

For more than twenty-five years John has applied his background in medical research to interpreting the literature on traditional Japanese medicinal foods.

In 1979, after living and studying in Japan for over a year - where the Bellemes learned the craft of miso making firsthand - they co-founded the American Miso Company, one of the world's largest producers of traditional miso.

Since the 1980s the Bellemes have researched and written, and in many cases illustrated, over 130 published articles on the subject of Japanese foods, including four books: Culinary Treasures of Japan; Cooking with Japanese Foods: A Guide to the Traditional Natural Foods of Japan; Clearspring - The Real Taste of Japan and The Miso Book.

John and Jan travel throughout the eastern United States giving lectures about authentic Japanese foods, and every winter, with partner Sandy Pukel, organise a week-long health cruise that features prominent experts in macrobiotic cooking, healthy living, holistic medicine, yoga, meditation, shiatsu, Pilates, and natural beauty aids. They live in Saluda, North Carolina.