Immigrant’s Table extra: Ya pears

August 7, 2012

Ya pears from China: individually wrapped for your protection. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

Like this past weekend at the H&A Supermarket in Langley Park, where I was formally introduced to the ya pear. It’s apparently the start of ya pear season in China, where the fruit, also known as the Chinese white pear, has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years.

Nothing like coming late to the party, eh?


Ya pears may be beautiful to the eye, but they’re mealy on the palate. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

Perhaps that is not surprising. Consumers want local produce, not something shipped from thousands of miles away, no matter how exotic or delicious.

But is the ya pear delicious? I sliced up one for the Food team during our weekly Tuesday meeting. The fruit is certainly easy on the eye: Its skin is a creamy pale yellow (don’t let the Instagram image above fool you!), with lots of beige freckles. The stem looks as if someone broke off a fireworks punk in the fruit. The flesh is firm — and will apparently remain that way, since, according to this document, ripe Asian pears “do not soften.”

The Food tasters were not exactly enthusiastic about the flavor of the ya pear, which might explain its decreasing popularity in Australia.

One taster described the flavor as “grassy.” She later called it a “water ball” for its abundance of juices but mild flavor. Another person said it was “more of a texture thing,” given the flesh’s applelike mealiness. A third taster simply wanted more sweetness. Personally, I liked the low-grade sweetness (though not the texture, which become rougher the closer that I got to the core).

How best to use the ya pear? I’m not sure I would use one for a salad, unless I paired it with other fruits. I don’t think it would be sweet enough to counter bitter greens. But given the ya pear’s firm texture, I think it might be the perfect fruit for these Asian Tacos, providing some crisp notes.

Some other recipe suggestions for ya pears:

* Gingered Pear and Cranberry Crumble

* Jamie’s Bigos

* Loaf of Bread Pudding With Caramelized Winter Fruit

Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires he ingest more calories than a draft horse.
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