When is a pear not pear-shaped? When its an Asian pear! (Did you hear the drum roll there?) Also called the apple pear, the Asian pear is an apple-like variety and has a crisp and juicy flesh with a thicker skin than European pears.
Our local grocery store seldom has unusual varietals, a common challenge in country chain stores. Luckily, living in an apple and pear producing area, we do sometimes get some interesting items that crop up (another drum roll, sorry about that). I could not resist these beauties when I saw them and decided to give them a try.
On first bite you notice that the skin is quite thick and requires a good chew. The flesh is crunchy and aromatic – much more enjoyable for me than a normal pear where you get that floury-peary aftertaste. The skin is rich in fibre so if you don’t mind the thickness it is super healthy for digestion. The Asian pear also bruises really easily so make sure you wash and handle the fruit just before you serve and use a dash of lemon juice to prevent discolouration for served dishes.
A great way to prepare them is to baton-cut or julienne the pear and serve in a salad or coleslaw as a crunchy, sweet element. Alternatively, you can use Asian pears in the same way as you would for apple in any of your recipes. Given their higher costs locally, I would much prefer to peel and enjoy fresh and chilled on a hot day.