There are many different kinds of Asian pears in the world. They are also known as Pyrus pyrifolia, Chinese pear, Korean pear, Japanese pear, Taiwanese pear, and sand pear. Asian pears are refreshingly sweet—but they’re never too sweet—and have a crunchy-but-crispy texture. They’re also always full of juice, perfect for eating raw out of hand or incorporating into recipes.
Looking more like an apple than a pear, Asian pears are often labeled "apple pear" but this fruit is strictly a pear and not a hybrid.
According to Chinese medicine, Asian pears have certain health benefits. Many Chinese and Taiwanese people believe steamed or stewed pear is a special remedy for a sore throat and dry cough. Asian pears also are thought to help clear the lungs, moisten the skin, improve the digestive system, and strengthen the immune system. They are very high in fiber, potassium, vitamin K, copper, and vitamin C.
Their delicious taste and wonderful texture, as well as their health benefits, make Asian pears ideal to cook and serve as an elegant or comforting dessert, and even incorporate into a Korean marinade.
Although a simple recipe, these steamed pears filled with honey and dates are also quite impressive. The pear is kept intact, save for removing the top to use as a lid and scooping out the inside a bit, and then honey and a Chinese date are placed in the hollow center. The pear is then gently steamed. When presented, your guests will discover the special surprise inside.
Chinese red dates (紅棗, also known as jujubes) that are called for in this recipe, strictly speaking, are not a date at all. They are a fruit similar to an apple in appearance and, when mature, they turn purple-brown and wrinkled with the appearance of a date. They are available at Chinese or Asian markets. Their sweet flavor makes them a popular ingredient in Chinese dessert soups and congees, and in steamed foods. If Chinese red dates or jujubes are unavailable, regular dates or raisins can be used instead. Of course, you also can leave them out altogether and simply steam the pears with honey.
Fruit crisps are always a welcome dessert, especially when the fruit is in season. This recipe is not only a nice change from the ubiquitous apple crisp, but this Asian pear crisp also features the warm spices of India, including garam masala, cardamom, ginger, and cloves, making for a different-but-delicious ending to the meal. The brown sugar is added to the fruit and spices, and to the butter-flour topping for a bit of sweetness. Once baked, the crisp becomes bubbly and browned on top.
Packed with diced pears and pecans, this moist cake is a wonderful way to enjoy this sweet and crisp fruit. Asian pear is diced and mixed with pecans, cinnamon, and sugar and then incorporated into a batter of white and whole-wheat flours, brown and white sugars, and flavorings such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla, as well as eggs, oil, baking powder, and baking soda. The result is a beautiful Bundt cake that can be glazed or dusted with confectioners' sugar.
Korean short ribs have a taste like no other and that is due to the marinade featuring Asian pear, which brings a fruit freshness to the dish. Asian pear is puréed or crushed and combined with garlic, soy sauce, sugar, honey, Japanese rice wine, and sesame oil to create a unique flavor that is not only perfect for short ribs but also for chicken and pork.