I love The flavors of Thai food. I often make Thai favorites like Marinated Grilled Tofu or the spectacular Blue Rice with Satay Sauce. Often when I’ve got my Pad Thai or tofu, I want a salad to go with it. That’s when this crisp, colorful Tangy Asian Pear Salad hits the spot. It’s simple and easy to assemble, and makes great use of the Asian Pear, which may not be a regular on your menus.
Asian Pears Are Ancient
What we know as Asian Pears have been cultivated for at least 3,000 years, and originated in East Asia. They have been a prized fruit and traveled widely, creating great diversity. There are varieties that originated in each region, so you may see them labeled as Korean, Chinese, etc. You’ll know them by their round or squat oval shape, and the golden, sometimes russeted skin.
We can trace the introduction of Asian Pears in America to Chinese railroad workers in the 1900’s. American grown Asian pears are in season Fall through the winter. I often seek them out at my local Asian market, where they sell jumbo-sized Korean pears, each swaddled in a puffy net to protect it in shipping.
A big difference between Asian pears and common pears like Bosc or Bartlett has to do with ripening and texture. The Asian pear is ripened on the tree, but remains crisp and very juicy when ripe, not softening like other pears. It makes it easy to buy a good one- there’s no trick to knowing if it’s ripe, because it’s ripe when picked and holds well in refrigeration.
Shake Up Your Salads with Asian Pears
As a private chef, I strive to make salads that are new and interesting all the time. The same old salad is boring! That’s where making seasonal shifts and changing the flavor profile comes in handy. Asian Pears are in season and will be available all winter, so start adding them to salads. Anywhere that a burst of crisp and juicy fruit would add some pizzazz is good.
Ingredients for Tangy Asian Pear Salad
The dressing is where the tangy flavors come in.
Tamari is a deeply flavorful soy sauce, and you can purchase gluten-free tamari if desired. I used it instead of the fish sauce that would probably have been in an authentic Thai dressing.
Rice vinegar amps up the tartness, with a relatively neutral flavor.
Fresh lime juice give the dressing a lively flavor, and will complement whatever Thai main you are serving with it.
Sesame oil give is just enough nutty, umami-rich flavor to make it seem bigger than it is, with very little oil.
The salad should be assemble at the last minute.
Mixed greens are fluffy and have enough variety to make the salad exciting. Use your fave lettuce if you don’t have mixed greens.
Roma tomatoes are meaty and delicious, but use whatever tomato is ripe and flavorful right now.
I used a jalapeno, for a spicy kick, but you can always go with a hotter chili, like Serrano or any of your faves.
Strawberries add a juicy sweetness, to play off all the tart, spicy flavors. If you subber fresh raspberries, it would work, too.
Scallions provide a mild, oniony note.
Asian pears are wonderful, but if you can’t get them, a Bosc or even a crisp apple can stand in.
Tangy Asian Pear Salad
- 2 tablespoons tamari
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
- 1 Asian Pear
- 2 cups fresh strawberries
- 1 package mixed greens
- 2 large roma tomatoes
- 1 large jalapeno sliced
- 1/4 cup pine nuts toasted
- 1/4 cup fresh mint torn
- In a small bowl, whisk tamari and garlic, then whisk in the remaining dressing ingredients.
- Slice the Asian pear, halve the berries. Arrange the mixed greens in individual bowls, or spread on a platter. Arrange the pears, berries, tomatoes, jalapenos, pine nuts and mint on top, then drizzle with dressing.