With the cooler weather comes hearty stews. Barley stew is a wonderful dish to serve on a chilly day full of nutritious vegetables and chewy barley. Best part of stews, for me, is eating leftovers, which gain even more flavor overnight. We add shio koji lamb to this stew, a delish marinated lamb shoulder we cooked separately and added to the stew at the end.
This recipe uses shio koji, which has a note at the end of the recipe. Another aspect of this recipe is you can skip the lamb entirely and eat only a vegetable barley stew if you wish. It’s delicious either way!
Prep Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours (including marinating time)
Cooking Time: 1.5 hours (including 1 hour for stew)
Servings: 4 to 6
For the Lamb:
- 1 cup shio koji
- 2 lamb shoulder chops, about 1.5 to 2 pounds
For the barley stew:
- Olive oil for frying
- 1/2 onion
- 2 carrots
- 3 celery stalks
- 4 cloves garlic
- 8 oz. fresh baby bella mushrooms
- 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 2 tsp. dried basil
- 2 tsp. parsley
- 2 bay leaves, whole
- 6 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth or water
- 1 cup quick cooking barley
- Cast iron skillet or frying pan
- Measuring cup(s)/spoons
- Stew pot
- Tongs, spatula, wooden spoon, chopping knife
- Marinate the lamb shoulder chops with shio koji in a bowl. Be sure the shio koji is covering all sides. Cover bowl and allow to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Marinate longer for thicker cuts, up to 2 hours.
- Chop the onion, carrots, and celery stalks, set aside. Chop 4 oz. of the baby bella mushrooms into small pieces. Slice the other 4 oz. of mushrooms.
- Use the cast-iron skillet, heat the oil on high (but not smoking) and sautee the sliced mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Set the sliced mushrooms aside for later in the meal.
- In the stew pot, heat to medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp. of olive oil, and fry the onion, carrots, and celery, and chopped mushrooms. After about 5 minutes, add the crushed tomatoes, pepper, basil, parsley, and bay leaves. Cook for a couple minutes stirring regularly.
- Add the vegetable or chicken broth and the quick barley. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. The barley stew will need 1 hour to cook.
- Pull out the lamb and let it get to room temperature about 30 minutes before the stew is done. Clean off excess shio koji, removing rice granules.
- Be warned! Shio koji burns easily! Preheat your oven to 400F. Clean the cast iron skillet from earlier. Place a small amount of olive oil into the pan and bring to medium-high heat. Do not let the oil smoke.
- Add shoulder lamb chops to your pan and pan-fry on each side about 2 minutes or until a nice sear is achieved. Keep a close eye to prevent the shio koji from burning.
- Once the sear is done, put pan with lamb chops into the oven and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until your desired doneness. Allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- Time to serve! Add barley stew to a serving bowl. Cut shoulder chops in stripes or chunks and add to the stew or serve whole on plate.
Notes: Shio koji is a type of marinade from Japan that is made from rice, koji, salt, and water. The koji is made of Aspergillus oryzae culture, this same species that give us soy sauce. You can buy shio koji at Japanese grocery stores or Amazon. Or you can make it at home as well.