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Brothl's Ancient Grain Salad


23rd September, 2014
Joost Bakker & Ryan Bussey
Tuesday 23rd September 2014


OK so there is ONE recipe this month from Brothl that's not actually a broth!  Today Ryan shares his recipe for Brothl's popular ancient grain salad, made with 12 hour soaked heirloom pearl barley, crunchy radish, herbs and sumac. Nutty, nutritious and super satisfying. - Lucy


Brothl's Ancient Grain Salad with pearl barley, soaked overnight in buttermilk. Photo - Sean Fennessy. Production / styling - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

We bring in our pearl barley and wheat all the way over from Dumbleyung in Western Autralia. I first met Dale and his family when I visited his farm in 2009. He supplied us with straw for the Greenhouse. I was blown away by his farm, its history and the Bio-Dynamic systems used. It's a truly sustainable farm, growing some incredibly old varieties of grain. Dale converted to Bio-Dynamics in the early 80’s, and really struggled to achieve success. After years of trying he started to look through his grandfather's log books, thinking ‘if he was able to grow without using chemicals surely I can!’ His grandfather had carefully kept details of yields and varieties almost since the early 1900’s.
Dale realized that modern grain varieties weren’t suited to be grown without chemicals. He discovered that the department of primary industries still had all the grains his grandfather grew, and those 'heirloom grains'  are the ones we now use at Brothl! These seeds are treasures, full of nutrition and intense in flavour.

The other important thing to do when cooking with grains, is to soak them!  While reading an interview with Masanobu Fukuoka (one of my heroes) he spoke about the ancient method of fermenting rice. This led us to do more research into the topic, and we realised that almost all grains eaten in indigenous cultures were traditionally fermented. Some studies have shown that soaking/fermenting grains for as little as 12 hours, multiplies the nutrients that are absorbed by the body up to ten fold!

Soaking or fermenting breaks down the phytic acid in seeds and grains, which the plant uses as a tool for natural preservation. This process breaks down grains, making them easier to digest and allowing your gut to extract the inherent nutrients in the grain more readily.  Soaking our pearl barley overnight in buttermilk also reduces cooking time and means our pearl barley salad retains the sweet, natural nuttiness of the grain.  A version of this Ancient Grain salad is always on the menu at our Greenhouse in Perth, and is one of the most popular items on our menu at Broth.


Pearl barley soaked in buttermilk for 12 hours prior to being used in Brothl's grain salad. Photo - Sean Fennessy. Styling - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.


500ml buttermilk
125g pearl barley
Bunch of radish
½ cup raisins
½ cup almonds
½ cup snow peas and shoots
2 tbsp sumac
1 lemon (juiced)
Olive oil


Buttermilk at Brothl.  Photo - Sean Fennessy. Production / styling - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.


Soak barley in buttermilk for 12 hours. Once soaked bring to a simmer for 25-30 minutes until barley is soft. Let cool.

Slice radishes thinly and keep the leaves for the salad. Mix remaining ingredients together.
Dress with olive oil and lemon to taste, season with salt, pepper and sumac.


Brothl's grain salad to takeaway! Photo - Sean Fennessy. Production / styling - Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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