Asian Pear - The Asian Apple
I love apples! All kinds of apples! So when I moved to Asia I was amazed when I found a large brown-ish fruit with the look and texture of an apple.
I originally mistook it as a type of pear however with more research I found that it originates from East Asia, mostly associated with Japan and China with a history of consumption of over 3000 years. In the mid 1800’s the nashi pear was introduced to Australia and America by the Chinese and Japanese settlers during the Gold Rush.
There are thousands of different varieties of Asian Pear which carry different names such as Nashi, Chinese, Korean, Japan, Taiwanese and or sand pear. Asian pears are crisp and juicy almost like an apples, often called “asian apples.” Today’s Asian pears are hybrids between the Ussuri pear (Chinese pear) and Japanese sand pear (Nashi).
Asian pears are priced relatively high due to its large size. For this reason asian pears are used culturally as a gift or a family snack. Believe it or not in the city of Naju in South Korea there is a museum dedicated to the asian pear and in China “sharing a pear” is a homophone of “separate” so do not share your nashi pear with anyone you love. Trust me keep them for yourself! :)
Asian pears are a delicacy on its owns and even the ancient wealthy class enjoyed their healthy, refreshing and delicate flavours. Since it is similar to an apple and pear you can replace both fruits with any asian pear in any recipes for salads, dressings, sauces, fresh juice or even soaked in booze such as mulled wine.
To me they are best eaten fresh like an apple or pear, but make sure you have a napkin as they are very juicy. We personally like to freeze them at home and use them as an ice cube in spritzers, Gin & Tonics and many other refreshing beverages with or without booze. Since the skin is very hard and holds the juice well in the fruit, you can use the fruit as a cup, in a same way you can use a pineapple or coconut.
Since I moved to Asia, whisky and soda has grown on me and I love to spice it up with a slice of nashi pear, in my whisky & soda, and use them as a garnish to extract fruitiness from some of the great single malts.
My favorite ratio is 1 part of single malt whisky to 2.5 part of good quality soda/ sparkling water.