Crunchy Korean Pears Make A Great Snack; Also Try This Italian-Inspired Salad ReThe Korean pear, or bae, is a wintertime fruit that brings sheer delight to the palate. Compared to teardrop-shaped European pears which have a soft pulp, Korean pears are crunchy and sweet with a granular texture that has made them one of Korea's favorite dessert fruits.
Although Korea's native pear is recorded in ancient literature as early as 100 B. C. and during the time of the Koryo Dynasty (936 - 1392), the majority of Korean pears readily available to consumers these days in fact have their origin in Japan. When Japanese pears were first introduced to Korea in 1906, they were by comparison softer, larger and sweeter than the native Korean pear. Since that time the pears enjoyed in Korea have become something of a hybrid between the Japanese and Korean varieties, resulting in a fruit with a superior quality and taste.
Korea's four seasons and optimal weather conditions make it ideal for producing delicious pears. Shingo, Hwangkeum, Naju and Meokgol are, among others, four varieties of the famous Korean pears that are available any time from September to February. Compared to other fruits, these pears have a long shelf life and can be stored for up to 60 days at room temperature or if refrigerated, as long as 2 to 6 months.
In folklore, Korean pears are said to increase metabolism and combat the effects of the common hangover. The Korean pear is also used as a tasty meat tenderizer and is a wonderful substitute for plain sugar or pineapple when marinating raw meat. Try adding a few slices or the puree of Korean pears the next time you prepare Bulgogi or Galbi and you will notice a big difference in taste.
When selecting fruit at your local supermarket or corner store, make sure to get large yellow pears without any green tint. Also, give the fruit a quick sniff, because a sweet scent will ensure a sweet taste. The pears should be hard, well-rounded and evenly covered with tiny white specks.
The JoongAng Ilbo English Edition recommends serving Korean pears in this creatively appetizing Korean-Italian fusion salad.
How to Make a Fabulous Fusion Pear Salad:
Ingredients for 4 servings: 1 medium-size pear, 2 teaspoons of sugar, about 2 cups of drinking water, 3 medium-size baechu (Chinese cabbage) leaves, 8 small stems of ssuk (mugwort), 4 stems of chicory, 12 tablespoons of wine vinegar, 3 cloves of garlic, 4 thin lemon slices, 12 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of roasted sesame seeds.
1. Peel skin off pear and cut it into thin strips. Put sugar into a medium-size bowl and add about 2 cups of water. Stir gently to dissolve sugar. Add fruit, cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and refrigerate.
2. Chill salad plates in freezer.
3. Cut garlic into thin slices and marinate in vinegar. Set aside.
4. Wash remaining vegetables and drain.
5. Tear vegetables into bite-size pieces and arrange evenly on chilled plates.
6. Remove pear from mixture using a drainer and place on top of vegetables.
7. Add 3 tablespoons each of vinegar and olive oil.
8. Sprinkle sesame seeds and garnish with lemon slices.
by Ines Cho