Appearances are often deceiving.

Take the Asian Pear for instance, which, at first glance, can easily be mistaken for an apple. Asian Pears are stout and round like apples, and lack the curvy bottoms of their sisters Bosc, Bartlett, or Anjou pears.

(It's kinda like how Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes are both ninjas. You can immediately tell that Storm Shadow is a ninja because he looks like a ninja. But when you first take a gander at Snake Eyes, he can easily be mistaken for a welder. Or an S&M enthusiast. Or both. But in fact, Snake Eyes is indeed a ninja. A mute ninja armed with hand grenades. And a dog. But a ninja nonetheless.)

And despite being shaped more like Ina Garten than Rachael Ray, Asian Pears are pears nonetheless. Aside from shape, Asian Pears are also different in that they are often more firm, crisp, and juicy than other pear varietals. As such, I thought that Asian Pears would be a great vehicle for poaching since their inherent firmness would make them less likely to disintegrate into a mushy peary pulp after a long simmer in pandan-perfumed liquid.

Yup. Pandan-Poached Asian Pears.

It has a nice ring to it doesn't it?

There are recipes for poached pears in which the poaching liquid is nothing more than water and sugar (such as Manggy’s delicious-looking recipe for Poached Pears), and other recipes in which the poaching liquid can be one of two wines: Port or Riesling. I definitely wanted to use wine in my recipe. Since I wanted to
flavor the poaching liquid with pandan–that oh so fragrant leaf used
in many SE Asian dishes, I figured the bold flavors of Port would be
too overpowering and went with the Riesling route instead.

As I mentioned in my last post, the aromas and flavors imparted by pandan leaves are mysterious and indescribable, but very tasty. And as I found out from a very useful tip in the comments section of that last post, you can extract maximum flavor from pandan leaves by piercing them with a fork and then shredding them:


To make my Pandan-Poached Asian Pears, I just emptied an entire bottle of Riesling (yes, the whole thing) into a large saucepan with some sugar and a couple of pandan leaves. I then cored and peeled some Asian Pears and plopped them into the pot and simmered away for 30-40 minutes (because Asian Pears are more firm than other pears, they take longer to poach). I then let the pears cool in the poaching liquid and then refrigerated them overnight. The next day, I reduced the poaching liquid into a nice syrup and drizzled the syrup over the chilled pears.


Turns out that pandan, pears, and Riesling wine are all quite
complimentary to each other. The pears end up a bit soft and sweet, but
still have a nice bite to them, and the reduced wine and pandan create
an almost honey-like sauce.

Pandan-Poached Asian Pears

Makes 4-8 servings

1 750ml bottle of Riesling wine
1 cup sugar
3 pandan leaves, each tied into a knot and shredded with a fork
4 firm Asian Pears

In a large saucepan or pot, combine the wine, sugar and 2 of the pandan leaves over medium low heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally until sugar disolves.

Meanwhile, using a small melon baller, remove the bottom stem of the pear and continue to scoop up into the pear until all the seeds and core are removed–you are basically hollowing out the pear from the bottom up and stopping when all the seeds are gone.  Then peel the pears and immediately place them into the pot of wine to prevent them from oxidizing and browning.  Add just enough water to the pot to submerge the pears and raise the heat to high. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover pot, and continue to simmer for 30-40 minutes until pears are tender but are still holding their shape. When the pears are easily pierced with a knife, and then the knife slides right out, the pears are done.

Remove the pot from heat and allow the pears to come to room temperature in the poaching liquid. Cover and refrigerate the pears and the poaching liquid overnight. The next day, pour half of the poaching liquid into a large wide saute pan and add the third unused pandan leaf (you should have only used 2 pandan leaves so far). Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat and continue to boil until the liquid has reduced to about one cup, about 20 minutes. After the liquid has reduced, allow to cool to room temperature.

Serve the pears in individual shallow bowls and drizzle with the reduced sauce. You can serve the pears whole, or cut them in half to double the servings. Serve with Pandan Ice Cream on the side if desired.


  • Mila April 30, 2008, 10:47 pm

    Very elegant.
    Is that pear in the picture uncored?

  • Krizia Sapida April 30, 2008, 10:53 pm

    That last picture is one of the most beautiful photos you’ve ever posted on this here blog. Man, Marv, how do you constantly come up with these super original ideas? Do you just sit around at work and think, “Man, I’d sure like to simmer some Asian pears w/ some pandan leaves”? And when are you going to start writing a cookbook (if you haven’t already?)

  • manggy April 30, 2008, 10:56 pm

    Whoo-hoo! A shout-out! :) Thanks!
    When I was younger I got fooled by that once. Didn’t figure out that freckles=pear :) Great mix of Asian and European flavors, Marvin!

  • bernadette May 1, 2008, 2:02 am

    I also find your last photo very elegant—-sooo Zen :-)! Nice as a poster image even!
    Thanks for the recipe, Marvin! I only know how to eat pear as well…au naturel?

  • Fearless Kitchen May 1, 2008, 7:44 am

    This is really interesting, and very elegant. I’ve seen a lot of poached pears, but I like how you’ve used the pandan leaf.

  • TeddyKim May 1, 2008, 8:16 am

    It took me a while as well to figure out that Snake Eyes was a ninja–that just made me like him more.
    Could this recipe be made with normal pears?

  • oggi May 1, 2008, 8:41 am

    I love ice cold crunchy and juicy Asian pears.
    And I’m liking the combination of pandan, wine, and pears, sounds heavenly…I will try this very simple but lovely creation of yours.
    Have you considered trying out for the next Top Chef?:)

  • raissa May 1, 2008, 9:32 am

    Wow! No joke thats the first thing that I said after reading the outcome of your recipe. I felt like I was eating it too. Yummy!
    I agree the last photo is so beautiful!
    and this made me laugh
    “And despite being shaped more like Ina Garten than Rachael Ray, Asian Pears are pears nonetheless.”
    I like Asian pears..its the crunchiness of it that I like.

  • Jasmine May 1, 2008, 12:00 pm

    That last pic is currently the wallpaper on my work computer. At least until I can make this recipe myself.

  • Wandering Chopsticks May 1, 2008, 3:09 pm

    No way! Obvious from the get-go that Snake Eyes was the ultimate ninja. Welders don’t wear all black with face masks. Oh, wait, not having met any welders, maybe they do. But still, Snake Eyes = bad-ass ninja. I had such a crush on him as a little girl. What of it? I can’t have a crush on a cartoon character? I’m sure he was attractive underneath that mask. He never talked so I could do all the talking. And he always saved the day. What more could a girl ask for in an imaginary crush? 😉
    Oh, and your poached pear looks delicious. As usual. But you get plenty of those comments. Wouldn’t you rather be amused by my random wackiness?
    PS Last week’s ice cream was rose petals harvested from my garden. I’ve got a whole week’s worth of rose posts!

  • dhanggit May 2, 2008, 2:36 am

    beautifully conconcted..asian pears in pandan…would love to serve this with my home-made coconut ice-cream :-) yummy

  • Burnt Lumpia May 2, 2008, 11:42 am

    Thanks, Mila. The pear in the picture actually is cored. I used a melon baller and dug into it from the bottom up. There’s actually about a half-inch diameter hole on the bottom of that pear. I’ll see if I can update this with more pics of how I cored it.
    Thanks Krizia! And you pretty much hit it on the head on how I come up with these ideas. I just sit around work, or home, or driving, or in the shower, or on the pot and I think of things. I always have a pad and a pen and I just write down whatever recipe ideas pop into my head. But I am inspired from other blogs, tv shows, magazines, etc.
    No prob, manggy.
    Thanks very much, bernadette. I actually liked the second to last picture best, so it’s weird to me that everyone seems to like the last one!
    Thanks Fearless Kitchen!
    Hi TK. Yes, regular pears can be used for this recipe too, but they probably don’t have to be poached as long since they are generally softer than asian pears.
    Thanks for the compliment, oggi! But I am by no means a chef and I would surely get my ass kicked in Top Chef!
    Thanks, raissa! I’m glad you liked my Ina/RayRay joke;)
    Wow, thanks jasmine! I’m really surprised by how everyone likes that picture!
    Of course I prefer your random wackiness Dub C! But I’ve always been a Storm Shadow fan myself. I know he’s a bad guy, but he’s an honorable bad guy. Snake Eyes is cool too, but I prefer Storm Shadow.
    Mmmm, these pears and coconut ice cream sound great dhanggit!

  • desie the maybahay May 2, 2008, 2:34 pm

    this looks very elegant, Marvin. i really do love your ideas.

  • Babette May 2, 2008, 3:36 pm

    Ok, now that you’ve compared Rachel Ray to the ‘regular’ pears, I’m switching to Ina Garten err Asian pears. LOL

  • White On Rice Couple May 4, 2008, 3:41 pm

    Wow, that’s a combo I’ve never tried: pandan & pears. It looks wonderful and I especially love your last, plated photograph! It’s looks like a work of art!

  • Christine May 4, 2008, 7:09 pm

    Pandan with pears, that must be such a wonderful combo indeed. I love pandan on most anything, and my sister makes great stuff with pandan but I bet she’s never tried this. Will have to forward this to her. :)

  • Helen May 5, 2008, 10:03 am

    This looks lovely. I love poached fruit as I’m not really a die-hard dessert fan. It looks so elegant and simple, just how I like my food to be.

  • joey May 5, 2008, 7:45 pm

    This looks divine Marvin! Really…posh-restaurant divine! :)

  • Julie May 8, 2008, 3:18 pm

    Oh, it’s beautiful!!! I’m glad you went with the Riesling–it sounds perfect.
    Also, I like Ina Garten more than Rachel Ray. Just saying … maybe that’s a clue. Then again again, I love me some Bosc pears.

  • Burnt Lumpia May 9, 2008, 9:01 am

    Thanks desie.
    Hi Babette. I’m glad you’ve made the switch;)
    Thanks WORC. The combination of the two did turn out well.
    Thanks Christine. I hope your sister enjoys the recipe.
    Helen, there really is nothing to this recipe. Very simple and very little prep work.
    Thanks joey!
    I prefer Ina’s cooking to Rachel’s too, Julie. But I don’t mind Ray Ray’s pear-shape 😉

  • elmomonster May 13, 2008, 10:08 am

    “And despite being shaped more like Ina Garten than Rachael Ray, Asian Pears are pears nonetheless…”
    …I’m still laughing.


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