Bye, pumpkin spice. Hello, bae.
by Rachelle "Roach"
Great news for everyone who has had their fill of pumpkin spice lattes: Korea has a far superior fall flavor, and there’s tons of different ways to enjoy it. You might also know this delicious fruit by names like Chinese pear, Korean pear, Taiwanese pear…you get the picture. You also might recognize its Korean name: bae (배). (Not, like, that kind of bae.) The bae you'll find in Korea are larger than a lot of the pears that you've seen in the U.S., and they are shaped more like apples compared to the traditional "pear shape." They’re also crunchier, juicier, and refreshingly sweet, and some varieties even have a bit of a spice to them. Koreans will often buy gift sets of bae for family gatherings or when they visit a friend at their home. You can find good bae all year round, but the best time of year to enjoy the ripest ones is fall during the harvest season. And apart from eating bae fresh, the great thing about the fruit is that it’s super versatile. Here are some of the tastiest ways to enjoy one: Baesuk If you eat Asian pears one way, let it be this. It’s a traditional Korean way: You steam them, fill them with a mixture of nuts, spices, and honey, and dig in. It’s a super-comforting food that will go a long way in curing any winter blues. Maangchi has a great recipe here:
Bae Kimchi The other Korean way to prep your bae. We can't help but ferment this, too! The end result is a sweet but salty, spicy kimchi that is amazingly refreshing. Galbi Many people don’t realize that one of the tenets of a great galbi marinade is the Asian pear. The acidity, water content, and subtle sweetness of the pear helps to keep the meat juicy and balances out some of the spice and salt from the rest of the marinade. Mix up a recipe like this one, let it rest on the meat overnight, and then grill it up and enjoy. Asian Pear Slaw Because these pears are so crisp and refreshing, they’re fantastic as a slaw. It’s especially delicious when it helps to balance out a savory protein. Pile it on top of a slow roasted pulled pork sandwich or make it into a great vegetarian meal as the topping to a shiitake mushroom taco.
Pear Ginger Jam This is a great way to pair an Asian pear with another one of Korea’s favorite and most versatile ingredients in ginger. Emeril Lagasse has a great, easy recipe for one. What better way to start your day than with a buttered piece of toast smeared with a healthy, tangy pear ginger jam?
Crostini With Brie & Asian Pear The rich creaminess of brie is so much fun to eat with the crisp, fresh flavor of an Asian pear. Let some brie melt on a hot baguette slice, top it with a bit of salted bae, and you’ve got yourself a fall appetizer that some restaurants would charge $14 for. Bon appetit. Asian Pear Salad Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto found a great way to use the Asian pear in a salad. He serves the dish at some of the restaurant. Lucky for us, the New York Times has shared the recipe so we can all enjoy this delectable winter salad.