“Asian pears!” my friend’s boyfriend declared.
While pondering what produce to buy for a flavor for a belated Chinese New Year dinner, I spotted my friend and her boyfriend roaming through the farmers market. I described my predicament. An Asian flavor that used local produce. So no mango, no dragonfruit, no longan, no guava (as I sadly discovered guava in the United States is no match for guava in Asia) and more. I was ready to return to the blood orange sorbet, which worked wonderfully for all my tasters. Yet, I kept coming across Asian pears. Growing up, my mom bought them and filled the kitchen. After a small lunch, she would carve them into small pieces and place them in a ceramic bowl with painted blue Oriental details.
Once I moved out, I discovered Bartlett pears and D’anjou pears. They were sweeter and more tart. I found them in baked in pies and tarts, poached served deliciously on their own, and for my sweet tooth, the juicy pear Jelly Belly bean. I abandoned Asian pears altogether.
One might say that my rejection of Asian pears is a metaphor for my own distancing from my ethnicity. Perhaps it is. Yet on that day, the way my friend’s boyfriend said was so absolute. Of course, why not Asian pears? My friend is Asian and her boyfriend was Indian. After parting ways, I walked through the stands and inspected the Asian pears. To my surprise, there are two kinds. Shinko and Nashi. After tasting at least 5 different stands, I finally settled on one stand where the fruit was sweet. Slightly bruised and ripe is even better for the sorbet!
To add another Asian touch, I added green tea flavor through a flavored sugar syrup. Interestingly, right after I churned the sorbet, a taste went like this: first, the crunchy sweet flavor of pear started at the tip of the tongue, then it quickly moved to the green tea flavor. To me, there was something odd about it. Yet about 4 hours later, when I served it at the dinner, the green tea flavor had completely faded with the pear flavor completely dominating the profile. Interestingly, the sorbet turned slightly yellow with barely a hint of the green tea. This recipe needs to be tested again.
And at the core, an Asian pear sorbet is good on its own.
Paired with coconut sago and a taro coconut cake (or panna cotta), the Green Tea Asian Pear Sorbet was a nice refreshing finish to a hearty, rich Chinese dinner.
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 heaping tablespoons of high quality green tea leaves
3 Asian pears
juice of 1 small lemon
In a small saucepan, bring the water to boil. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat once sugar is dissolved. Add the green tea leaves to the sugar syrup. Let steep for about 20 minutes. Strain to remove the leaves. Let cool and chill until ready for use.
Peel and chop the Asian pears into 1/2 inch pieces. In a blender or food processor, mix the chopped Asian pears with the lemon juice until well blended. Add the green tea syrup and blend.
Chill the mixture for at least for 3 hours or overnight.
Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions. The result will be slightly soft. Freeze for at least an hour for good consistency.
Serve as is or combine it with a sweet Asian delicacy.