Sunday, October 23, 2005

steamed honey pears in place of throat lozenges

Steamed Pears Ingredients
With just four ingredients, one can make a really lovely traditional Chinese dessert that is both delicious and healthy at the same time. This dessert, which is usually taken to soothe the throat and lungs, is very popular especially amongst individuals who generally stretch their vocal chords (i.e. talk a lot) in the course of their work. The usual ingredients are:

  • chinese snow pears (shuet lei, in Cantonese, or xue li, in Mandarin), which are more velvety in texture as compared to the chinese yellow sandy pears
  • chuan bei (fritillaria bulbs), these are the dried little white bulbs shown in pic above (which look almost like barley) - generally used in traditional chinese medicine in the treatment of coughs and phlegm, and for general respiratory health, [caution: not advised for pregnant women]
  • honey (not shown in pic)
  • red dates (deseeded and chopped) - the first three ingredients set out above are the usual traditional ingredients for this steamed pear recipe - I have taken the liberty tho' of adding chopped red dates as I like the contrast in colors, and the flavor of the sweet red dates combined with honey against the chuan bei's slightly bitter sweet flavor

Steamed Pears

  • soak the red dates in water until softened, then chop into smaller pieces
  • peel the snow pears and remove the core - I normally flatten the bottom of the pears so that they can stand on the plate during steaming
  • stuff the core of the pears with the chopped red dates and chuan bei (no more than 3 to 4 whole bulbs per pear)
  • place stuffed pears on plate for steaming and drizzle with honey
  • steam for at least 40 mins to 60 mins on very low fire, until the pears are soft
  • to serve, place pears onto individual plates/bowls and spoon the honey sauce over the pears
Final Tip: During my last trip to Chengdu, one of the local tour guides had strongly recommended that a little bit of oil from fried lard should be added to the steaming water to improve the texture of the steamed pears. As I was too lazy to search for lard and to fry it up to extract the oil, I took the easy way out and instead added 2 teaspoons of olive oil into the steaming water. Did I taste any difference, as compared to steaming without the oil? I'm not too sure but I think the exterior of the pears remained quite moist and did not suffer any 'wrinkling' or 'outer layer' dryness that sometimes happens when steaming food for an extended period of time.

Taste-wise: The pears were really velvety soft (yet not mushy) and the diluted honey sauce (combined with the juice from the pears and chopped red-dates) gave a nice finish to this dessert... very delectable served warm, straight from the steamer.
More karaoke-singing... no problem!


Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

nice! never really tasted steamed pear b4 done the way u did. I normally place the pear with some water, add rock sugar a lil, red dates and some other igredient and steamed them for like 30 - 50 minutes. Then i serve the liquid together with the pear.

Nice going CATH

10/24/2005 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

thanks, foodcrazee. Rock sugar sounds good too, what other 'special ingredient' do you add to this dessert?

10/25/2005 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

cath, it depends mostly chinese herbs. sometimes hasma.

10/25/2005 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger boo_licious said...

oooo, that looks really good Cath. Now I feel like having some even though my throat does not hurt.

10/25/2005 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hasma, hmmm, good idea... maybe, I will will double-boil the pears next time with hasma - thanks, foodcrazee

hi boo, no need to wait until you get a sore throat - prevention is better than cure!

10/26/2005 01:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi eatzycath,
I'll give it a try at steaming; I usually double boil. Other than red dates and rock sugar, you can try adding mi zao (big dates) but I think that would work only if there is enough liquid in there. I break the chuan bei to get extract more essence. Yum! Shirley

10/28/2005 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi Shirley, I was thinking about pounding the chuan bei into smaller pieces but was afraid that it might produce too much bitterness. Will try the next time around! :)

10/29/2005 11:43:00 AM  

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