My family loves Ba Bao Zhao, a sweet Chinese porridge. Ba Bao means 8 treasures in Chinese because it is made of 8 ingredients traditionally, mainly grains and beans, plus brown sugar or honey. Originally it is prepared around Chinese new year as a special treat. Now you can cook it year around, or buy it from Chinese supermarket.
Here are some basic ingredients:
Red bean, Green bean, Chinese red date, Lotus seed, dried Longan, Peanut, Black glutinous rice, Barley.
Some Chinese herbs can be added: Yi Yi Ren, Shan Yao, Fu Ling, Go Ji Zi.
Many people also add these in the modern days: black sesame, black bean, wild rice, and different nuts or seeds.
To sweeten the porridge, use brown sugar, honey, rock sugar or just dates. White sugar is not used in traditional Chinese herbal dishes.
The measurement is not critical. We do it the Chinese way, one or two "handful" of each ingredient. Adjust to your taste next time.
How to cook
For beans and seeds that takes longer to cook, it is better to soak in water overnight, or at least an hour or two.
Red date (Da Zao) should be pitted and cut first.
Put all ingredients in a pot with plenty of water (at least cover the ingredients plus 1-2 inches, and add water during cooking if needed), bring to a boil for a few minutes. Then reduce the heat to let it simmer for at least 1/2 hour or until cooked. Cover and let it sit for another hour to make sure all ingredients are totally soften.
Add sugar of your choice at the end of the cooking. You can eat it warm or cold, as breakfast, snack or dessert.
Healthy snack and dessert
Even though it is a sweet dish, all ingredients are not highly processed. It is a healthier choice than many store bought snack. Kids love it too. It satisfies sweet tooth, is very filling and nutritious.