There are over 100 varieties of this mildly sweet and juicy fruit available in Japan. So it’s odd that in the United States, where you can find at least a couple dozen, they’re rarely categorized by their individual names. Nevertheless, they all share a spectacular crunchiness, which makes them ideal for winter salads like the one below from Iron Chef and Asian-pear aficionado Masaharu Morimoto.
Morimoto’s Asian-Pear Salad
1 large Asian pear
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup plum wine
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 shallot, finely minced
6 ounces olive oil
Salt and white pepper to taste
4 bunches mâche, washed
1 tablespoon fresh chives, cut into half-inch pieces
2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
(1) Cut the Asian pear into julienne strips. Place in cold water with the lemon juice and reserve. For the vinaigrette: In a saucepan, bring plum wine to a simmer and reduce to 1/4 cup. (2) Combine with the vinegar, minced shallot, and the olive oil. Season to taste with the salt and white pepper. (3) To plate, toss the julienned Asian pear with the mâche, chives, and enough vinaigrette to coat. Adjust seasoning. Place in the center of a plate, drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts. Serves 4.