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Steamed Asian Pears with Honey

According to the Chinese, pears are considered a cooling fruit and they are excellent for fevers, ulcers or other stomach ailments. For the Chinese, almonds come in two main varieties: there are "northern" (bitter) and "southern" (sweet) almonds. Both are used by the Chinese for food and medicine. Sweet almonds have a neutral nature, while the bitter are warming, but both lubricate the intestines and temper coughs. Almond tea made with almonds steeped in boiling water, then sweetened with rock sugar, is often drunk as a remedy for coughing.

Food as Medicine

Diets that feature fiber-rich foods such as pears have been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.


6 nearly ripe Asian pears
2 lemons
6 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons "southern" Chinese almonds or apricot or olive kernels (often labeled "apricot kernels" or "olive kernels" in Asian markets)


1. Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each pear so that it will stand upright. Peel the pears and rub the surface with a cut lemon half to prevent them from turning brown. Cut the top squarely off each pear, slicing about 2 inches from the top, and with a melon baler or spoon, carefully remove the core and seeds. Do not cut through to the bottom of the pear. Reserve the tops.

2. Arrange the pears on a pie plate or some kind of a heatproof plate. Spoon a tablespoon of the honey into each pear and sprinkle some of the almonds on top. Place the reserved tops on the pears, if necessary securing them with toothpicks. Place the plate in a steamer tray if using.

3. Fill a wok or large pot with enough water to reach the bottom of the steamer tray and bring to a boil.

4. Cover and steam 40 to 45 minutes, or until the fruit is tender when pierced with a knife. Serve the Asian pears warm, at room temperature or cold.

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Serves 6
Recipe from by "A Spoonful of Ginger" Nina Simonds (Alfred A. Knopf, 1999)


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