Poached Pears with White Fungus and Red Dates

Holidays, holidays, we just can’t get enough of them. The Christmas ornaments are back in their year-long storage and the new calendars are up in place. Time to move on with the work year, right? Not so fast! Let’s bring out the bright red scrolls, pussy willow branches, and Mandarin oranges. The Chinese or Lunar New Year is upon us! 2012 is the Year of the Dragon and this auspicious year starts January 23rd on the Gregorian calendar. The maternity wards all over East Asia will be expecting a bumper crop of babies this year because dragon children are supposed to have a leg-up in life.

In China, the Lunar New Year is also called the Spring Festival. One can only surmise that somewhere in East Asia, spring has arrived or so it seems. Here in Minnesota, we will have to make do with the thoughts of spring to warm us up for the next three months of winter. Better still, enjoy this warm and comforting poached pear soup. This nourishing soup is usually taken as a dessert and is supposed to be good for healing dry coughs and keeping the skin young. The latter effect comes from the collagen content found in the white fungus. Many of us have made New Year resolutions after the holidays to eat healthily. Hopefully this dish will help fulfill the desire and start the countdown to the Lunar New Year.

Traditionally, Asian pears are used for this soup. However, I could not resist trying out the recipe using these gorgeous red Anjou pears. They did give off a slightly reddish tinge to the soup. White fungus is available in dried form at the Asian grocery stores. Select pale and slightly yellowish colored ones. When soaked for 15 to 20 minutes, they double in size and turn semi-transparent. The hard bottom should be trimmed leaving a soft gelatinous body. When eaten, the texture is surprisingly crunchy.

This soup can be double-boiled but I chose to do a quick version on the stove with the lowest possible setting. A very gentle simmer ensures a clear soup.

Poached Pears with White Fungus and Red Dates
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 pears (Asian, Bosc, or Anjou), halved and cored
  • 1 piece white fungus, soaked, rinsed, trimmed, and separated
  • 8 red dates, soaked and rinsed
  • 3 small pieces (30g) rock sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) water
Instructions
  1. Soak white fungus and red dates separately for 20 minutes. Rinse and drain. Trim, separate and remove the hard parts from white fungus.
  2. Place all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan. Cover and bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow it to simmer very gently for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove and serve warm with the liquid.


Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)

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Comments

  1. says

    Beautiful blue plate setting you have there! Of course the dish looks great too. So pretty that I thought it was a dessert. Pears in a soup is a new thing to me, but always nice to learn a new dish. Happy countdown to the lunar New Year!

    • Biren says

      Thanks Hyosun! Pears are delicious in soups. I sometimes make a double-boil savory pear soup and it is really tasty and nutritious. The family loves it. :)

  2. says

    my favourite chinese dessert! it’s also really nourishing, good for the throat and lungs. a very nice variation is to add bitter almonds to it, make sure to use a mix of both the north and south almonds!

  3. says

    I really like the tinge of pink that the Anjou gave the soup (and those are gorgeous pears. I’ve never heard of white fungus but don’t think that my husband will allow us to have it in the house. He’s such a non-mushroom fan and to actually use one that’s called fungus instead of mushroom might throw him over the edge. :)

    Happy New Year Biren!

  4. says

    The year of the dragon – wow! That is worth celebrating. Now I’ll be honest – when I saw ‘fungus’ in your post title I was like ‘she can’t be serious’. But now I’m thinking I just might try it. It does actually sound delicious, but I’d also just love to tell people I’m serving them fungus and see their faces! ;-)

  5. says

    Biren, I hope you’re having a great time in 2012. :) Now the holiday baking is over it’s back to eating healthy. I must say I have never tried white fungus… but it looks really cool. What a great combination with the poached pears and red dates. I’m all for healing and healthy food remedies! At this time of the year, we can all use it. :)

  6. says

    This soup is supposed to clear any heat from one’s body, or so the old folks said:D but these days we boil it because it’s delicious! Your version sure gives this soup a festive look to it!

    • Biren says

      The taste of white fungus is very mild with a surprisingly crunchy texture. If I were to compare it to a seaweed, I would liken it more to konbu than nori.

  7. says

    Biren, this is a very comforting & refreshing dish & I make this at home too. It’s interesting to see u using red pears tho’. I don’t think I can find them here. I usually use the green or yellow ones. Wonder if there’s any difference in taste.

  8. says

    Oh dear! I’ve missed so much lately! Love the beautiful color of your pears! Can you believe that I’ve NEVER cook this ‘so common’ dessert before!? LOL :P
    I must try it one of these days! Guess I’ll have to tell my Ms Vainy (my younger gal) those collagen hidden in the white fungus to get her eating some! All of us love white fungus dessert except her.

  9. says

    I can’t help checking out your blue dishes Biren! I’ve noticed you do have quite nice collection at your home! I wish to follow your path. Collecting dishes became my hobby (and it was my mom’s) and it’s fun to see your delicious food on the beautiful plate! Love this white fungus – I have never used myself abut I love eating this!

    • Biren says

      It is good to have a few nice pieces of dishes around. The only problem is storage. I am running out of space.

      I like the mild taste and crunchy texture of white fungus. It is also very good in savory soups.

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