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RECIPE FOR OSMANTHUS POACHED PEARS
Source: Adapted and modified from Hunger Management (by Tan Hsueh Yun) @ The Sunday Times
2 large yellow skinned Chinese round shaped or teardrop shaped pears (I used Korean pears)
25g dried white fungus (雪耳)
3 tbsp dried osmanthus flowers (桂花)
10g dried red dates
20g sweet almonds/ sweet apricot kernels or seeds (南杏) – refer to note 9
10g bitter almonds/ bitter apricot kernels or seeds (北杏) – refer to note 10
75g rock sugar/ cane sugar
2 candied dates – optional
1.5 litres water
- Rinse the white fungus under running water, followed by soaking in a bowl of water for an hour. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, trim out the hard yellow orange parts at the bottom and separate the frilly head of fungus into bite-sized pieces. Rinse, drain and set aside.
- Skin the pears, core them and cut each one into 8 wedges, set aside.
- Put dried osmanthus flowers into a sieve. Rinse them through running water and drain. Spoon it into a disposable tea or spice bag. Seal the bag and set aside.
- Wash and remove seeds for red dates.
- Rinse candied dates and both types of the almonds.
B) Poaching using normal pot
- Bring the water to boil in a medium-sized pot. Add tea bag (step 3 above) and rock sugar to the pot, and turn heat down to medium. When the rock sugar has dissolved in the tisane, have a taste and add more sugar if desired.
- Add the white fungus, candied dates, red dates, and sweet and bitter almonds.
- Simmer over medium low heat for 45 minutes to an hour. The pears are done when you can pierce through them easily using a sharp knife.
- Let it cool in the pot for 1 hour. Fish out the tea bag containing the osmanthus flowers before serving. It can be served warm or chilled. For chilled, cool completely then refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.
C) Poaching using slow cooker (my lazy version)
- Arrange all the ingredients neatly in the slow cooker pot. Add water.
- Turn on the power and set to high to bring the water to a boil (Refer to note 8 below). Immediately reduce to low heat and simmer for 1-1.5 hours.
- Let it cool in the pot for an hour. Fish out the tea bag containing the osmanthus flowers before serving. It can be served warm or chilled. For chilled, cool completely then refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.
- If the size of the pear is small, use an extra one or two.
- For smaller pear, cut each one into 4 wedges so that it can still hold its shape during poaching.
- Sweet and bitter almonds (Chinese almonds) are actually apricot kernels.
- Do not soak white fungus in warm/ hot water as it will lose its crisp.
- I find that the amount of sugar together with the candied dates give the right sweetness to the soup. So there is no need to add extra sugar.
- This recipe works well for double-boiler method too, but the stewing process will take 2 hours.
- Osmanthus is available in either Chinese medicine shops or Chinese dried good shops.
- Some slow cooker models have auto function only. If so, you need to wait until the water starts to boil and simmer for 1-1.5 hours. To reduce the preparation time, you can start out with hot water. This is a cheater method which I sometimes do. Some may against it because it may shorten the lifespan of your slow cooker. So, use your own judgement.
- Sweet almonds/ bitter apricot kernels or seeds (南杏)- It tastes sweet and is neutral in nature. It is non-toxic and relieves cough.
- Bitter almonds/ bitter apricot kernels or seeds (北杏)- It heals cough and expels phlegm. [WARNING: As bitter almond carries a slight trace of toxins (cyanide), please use it with extreme caution. There is a concern about the potential health effects associated with large numbers of bitter apricot kernels being consumed on a regular basis, particularly by young children (as mentioned in this link). It is also not advisable for pregnant ladies. If you're not comfortable eating it, then exclude it from the recipe. Other reading reference: Is it safe to eat bitter apricot kernels by David Lebovitz.]