When I entertain, I’m always looking for a simple dessert to finish the meal. Though meals in Asia do not typically include a dessert course, I think fruit makes the perfect choice. Whether it is perfectly ripe tangerines that are sliced into wedges, fried banana spring rolls, lychee sorbet, or these poached pears, the options are limitless. I like these pears because they are redolent of cinnamon and anise and are sweetened with palm sugar. They are super simple and pair well with vanilla ice cream or yoghurt.
I usually use Japanese pears, sometimes referred to as Nashi, apple pears, or Asian pears because the are very firm and hold up well to being poached. They also have a nice crisp and juicy texture and have a very sweet, almost honey-like flavor.
Poached Japanese Pears
4 Japanese pears (you may substitute with any firm pear)
2 cups water
2 cups palm sugar (you may substitute dark brown sugar)
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
Zest of 2 oranges
- Combine the water, palm sugar, star anise, cinnamon, and orange rind in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
- While your poaching liquid is coming to a boil, peel, halve, and core your pears.
- Add pears to the liquid. If they are not completely covered by liquid, add more water to insure that the surfaces of the pears are submerged. I sometimes use a lid to weight down the pears.
- Reduce the heat so that you have a gentle simmer and continue poaching the pears for 30-45 minutes. (Depending on the ripeness and variety of pear, your cooking time can vary. Test the pears to see if they are fork tender)
- Remove the pears from the pan, but reserve your poaching liquid. Simmer the syrup until slightly reduced and thickened.
- When ready to serve, place poached pears in serving dishes (with ice cream or yoghurt if desired) and drizzle with reduced syrup.