I’ve regaled you all before with my adventures in the Asian market. It’s typically an experience comprised of equal parts frustration and “ew.” Frustration because I can’t read the packages or ask for help when trying to track down less than normal ingredients, and “ew” because the market overall seems dirty and disheveled, a far cry from my regularly grocery haunts. However, I found a new go-to Asian market. Frustration and Ew no more.
Insert choir singing “Ahhhhh” here
I wish I had learned about H-mart sooner than last week. When Fava and then Rutabaga confirmed it was THE go-to Asian grocer in the ‘burbs, I took my empty Saturday last to check it out. Wow. I’ve seen the light.
While Korea didn’t really require too many odd ingredients, I figured I’d check it out. I HAD NOT EVEN MADE IT THROUGH THE DOOR when in the middle “not-outside-but-not-quite-inside” entry way were KOREAN PEARS!
The first thing on my list. BAM. Done.
As I walked down aisle upon pristine and well-organized aisle, I was giddy from all the newfangled cooking ingredients now at my disposal, though part of me was sad I’d been missing this all along. There were definitely ingredients that I’d needed in the past few months (banana blossoms, for one) that I’d have been able to use had I known about this oasis, and more that perhaps I’d need in the future (black chickens?). One can dream.
Back to reality with that Korean pear. Have you ever had a Korean pear? I had not either. It looks like a funky apple, but is just a version of pear native to Asia. Actually, I came upon BOTH a Korean pear AND an Asian pear at H-mart. I could find no discernable difference in them but the price- the Korean pears were around 5 times more expensive- so I made the frugal decision to go the Asian route. Further research on the interwebs seems to suggest that they are relatively interchangeable. Good thing for me.
I like regular pears, but admit they are an oft forgotten item in my grocery cart. After today, I’m not sure why.
Today’s dish is baesuk, a steamed Asian pear. It’s typically served as dessert.
You know how I feel about fruit and dessert. While the guidelines I have yet to put to paper shun fruit in dessert, I’m pretty serious when I say that fruit AS dessert is a big no-no.
Even when it’s as good as this is. I stand by my principles.
With that, I’m calling this breakfast, for two reasons. First, I’ve found that these Asian countries in general aren’t too creative with the breakfast foods the way that we are here in the States, and they usually eat for breakfast what they ate for dinner. While that’s all good with say, last night’s cold pizza, not so much for Korean BBQ (coming to your inbox later this week). Second, it reminds me of the baked apples Mama Buddha used to make me and Little Buddha for breakfast once in a while. Hot breakfast every day. Yup. Spoiled=me.
This dish is essentially a pear cooked with honey, cinnamon, pine nuts, ginger and jujubes. Sounds good, right? Regretfully I could not find the jujubes at the H-mart and was admittedly too overwhelmed to ask. Good thing is that I suspect you won’t be able to find them either, and in this recipe they were optional. I’ll be sure to ask for the jujubes next time I go, mostly so that I can say that I used them. If you can’t find a Korean or Asian pear, a regular Bosc would work just fine prepared the same way.
Aside from the jujube-lessness, the only other change I made is that I did not steam this pear, as the Koreans do. Why? Well, I don’t have a steamer pot in my arsenal, and my actual steamer/slow cooker/rice cooker was not deep enough to accommodate the pear, so I wrapped mine in foil and baked it for an hour. I imagine since my pear came out soft and lovely, this didn’t make too much of a difference. After all, flavor is what we’re going for here.
Wow, I talk a lot sometimes.
Without further ado, I give to you baesuk
Recipe from Maangchi
1 Korean or Asian or Bosc pear
2 TB honey
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp cinnamon
1 TB pine nuts
1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. Rinse the pear. Rinse the pear in cold water and pat dry.
3. Make a lid by slicing 1 inch off the top.
4. Scoop out the core and the seeds with a small spoon. You can use an apple corer, but don’t poke it all the way through- keep a well for filling.
5. Fill it with the honey, cinnamon, ginger and pine nuts.
6. Put the sliced lid back on the pear and wrap it in aluminum foil.
7. Bake in the oven for 1 hour. Unwrap and eat.
8. Oh, and of course I topped it with whipped cream.
Do you know me but at all? Whipped cream on everything.
Plus, adding whipped cream is the only way to salvage this as a dessert in my eyes.