Adzuki December 8 Porridge La-Ba Zhou

La-Ba, means the 8th day of the 12th month on the Lunar Calendar. This is the month when the Chinese will offer their prey to the Gods. The word La shared a similar meaning with the word Lie (meaning hunting), and the offering rites were held on the 8th (Ba) day of the month, hence La-Ba.

It was also believed that Buddha (Sakyamuni) who was weak and exhausted during his journey of truth-seeking, was once fed a porridge made with nuts, beans, and rice, by a kind shepherdess. After six years of disciplined meditation, he came to an enlightenment and realisation of truth on the 8th day of the 12th month.

Therefore the Chinese Buddhists also serve this porridge as a religious ceremony. It was also an honour for those in the palace, to be invited to have the porridge with the Royalty, as part of a welcoming rite for Chinese New Year.

There are 8 main ingredients used in the porridge, varying according to different area in China, and individual's preference. Some call it Ba-Bao (8 treasures) porridge when served at other time than Lunar December 8, but according to some, that is a totally different porridge. The cooking may take a while, but the preparation is actually quite simple.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of:
    Adzuki bean
    kidney bean
    shelled peanut
    glutinous rice
    brown rice
    millet
    wheat
    barley
  • 1/4 cup purple rice
  • 1/2 cup dried longan fruit flesh, soaked for 20 minutes
  • 20-30 pitted red dates, soaked for 20 minutes
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup rock sugar

Preparation:

  1. Rinse, drain and dry all ingredients in (1).
  2. Place all ingredients in a large claypot, add in water and boil on medium for 3 hours, covered.
  3. Rinse dried longan fruit flesh and red dates, stir both into the porridge together with the rock sugar.
  4. Cook for another 2 hours.

Versatility Note:

  1. You can actually try other ingredients such as pine nut, lotus seed, water chestnut, and other dried fruit of your choice.
  2. Use a deep cooking pot if you don't have a claypot.