Are you looking for an alternative to your favorite Asian pear recipe? Or maybe you’ve been dying to try a recipe out for Asian pears but you can’t find them anywhere!
There’s no need to throw in the kitchen towel – there are quite a few alternatives to the sweet and crisp Asian pear.
All About Asian Pears
Asian pears are thousands of years old and originate from China and Japan. The Japanese pears are called Nashi, and the Chinese variety is referred to as Li.
Unlike European pears, Asian pear doesn’t soften and ripen once it’s been picked. They retain a crisp and crunchy texture. These pears are somewhere between a pear and an apple, as they have the graininess of a pear with the sweet, crisp crunch of an apple. They are very much a pear, though.
Asian pears are grown all over the world. Beyond their growing regions of Japan, China and Korea, they grow in the warmer Mediterranean countries of Italy, Spain, and France. Australia and New Zealand are other countries growing Asian pears, as well as a couple of states in the US.
Asian pears are crisp and round, similar to an apple but have a lovely sweetness to them and a pretty intense pear flavor.
Asian pears have a long shelf life. They can be kept in industrial refrigeration for a good couple of months, making them excellent export fruit. You can keep yours at room temperature, and they will last happily for about two weeks.
Uses for Asian Pears in Cooking
Before glancing at its uses in desserts and baking, it’s interesting to learn that Asian pears are used as a tenderizer in Korean barbecue marinades for pork and other meats. There are enzymes within the pear that make it an excellent meat tenderizer.
Asian pears can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, as mentioned. It’s an incredibly versatile fruit, full of flavor and sweetness.
These lovely pears can undergo most cooking and baking applications. They can be poached in a syrup or creamy liquid. They hold up beautifully when baked in a tart or galette. They can be shredded and added to a salad, coleslaw, or baked into a cake or bread.
If you’re looking for something a bit different to add to a pizza, Asian pear will go beautifully with smoked meats and cheese.
Really, the list is endless. Due to its lovely crisp and firm texture, there is just so much that can be done with the Asian pear.
5 of the Best Asian Pear Substitutes
Here are a few alternatives to Asian pears. Some are easier to find than others.
1. Kiwi Fruit
This might not seem like the obvious substitution choice for the Asian pear, but it is a brilliant alternative if you’re looking for an ingredient to tenderize meat with. As mentioned, many Korean recipes call for Asian pears as one of their marinade ingredients. Kiwi fruit also contains enzymes called Caplain that soften meat fibers.
2. Pink Lady Apples
Initially, an Australian product, pink lady apples are now available all over the world. These pretty pink and blushing apples have a lovely crisp and firm texture to them, making them an excellent substitute for Asian pears in applications such as salads, fruit salads, or coleslaw. They could also be baked into a beautiful tart or galette in place of an Asian pear.
3. Fuji Apples
These apples are a sweeter option compared to the pink lady apples. Originally from Japan, they are great to cook and bake with and can emulate the lovely crisp texture of the Asian pear and are an absolute win in place of them. They can be found all over the world nowadays.
Back to the marinade story. Pineapple has a fantastic enzyme called bromelin, known to tenderize and marinade meats beautifully. Plus, it tastes incredible in a marinade for pork or beef.
5. Bosc Pears
European-grown and much-loved Bosc pears are great alternatives to Asian pears. They have a pretty similar level of sweetness to them as well as a close match in texture.
Anything you want to do with an Asian pear (other than marinading) can be done with a Bosc pear. This makes it a top pick as far as alternatives go.
Health Benefits of Asian Pears
Here are a couple of the health benefits that these fantastic pears offer:
High Levels of Folate
It is recommended to most pregnant women to take folate, also known as folic acid. Folate is naturally occurs in Asian pears. One could say this is a perfect snack for someone who’s expecting.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Interestingly, dietary fiber helps the body to regulate sugar levels, and Asian pears are laden with it.
The fiber in these pears is said to aid in removing bad cholesterol from the body, therefore having a positive impact on the heart. Fiber has a lot of positive benefits to the body, with heart health being a significant one.
What to Do with Asian Pears
If you are looking for a couple of specific ways to eat Asian pears, here are a few:
- Eat them straight up as a snack. They won’t turn to mush when kept in a lunchbox.
- Add them to a fruit salad.
- Beautiful in a winter salad with nuts and cheese.
- Bake them into a pie, tart, galette, cookie, bread, or cake.
- Top focaccia or pizza with slices.
- Blend them into a soup or smoothie.
- Top crackers with them with a bit of honey and blue cheese.
- Dehydrate slices as a snack or for a salad.
- Use in a marinade with pork, beef, or duck.
- Add them to a coleslaw or salad.
Wrapping It Up
If you’ve been planning to marinade, cook or bake with Asian pears but have come up short when looking for them, don’t worry. Not all is lost – there are so many great and easy-to-find alternatives that are available to you.Print