Many of you have heard my rant before about Asian desserts and also know that I love old school cookbooks and recipes. Madame Wong’s Long-Life Chinese Cookbook (1977) is a more recent edition to my cookshelf and happens to have one of the shortest dessert chapters ever. Featured alongside recipes for Almond Delight (extract flavored gelatin), Eight Precious Pudding (good luck for sure), Peking Wall (dried fruit and nuts stacked like a wall) and Red-in-Snow Mousse (sounds communist and involves crab apples) is Steamed Pears.
Unassuming, of Peking Tradition, two ingredients, no gelatin and a serving of Chinese wisdom. This turned out tasty, perfect fall but does need (like so many things) whipping cream or vanilla ice cream dolloped alongside.
Pears are a popular Chinese dessert. They are good for colds and coughs and are soothing to the throat. This fruit is said to stop aging and keep you young. It is advisable for those with high blood pressure to eat pears often.
- 6 pears
- 6 tablespoons honey
Cut 1-2 inches from the top of each pear. Reserve tops for lids. Core each pear but do not make a hole in the bottom. I used my trusty melon baller. Then fill the pears with honey. I also sprinkled just a pinch of cinnamon on the top of the pear before replacing the lid. Place pears upright on a plate. Place the plate on a rack in a bottom or steamer. Steam covered for 30 minutes. Serve hot. Could prepare up to the point of steaming in advance.
These were quite tasty. For pears, since I canned up all my Asian pears (and they would probably be too watery and crisp for this), I used Bosc and a random Velveteen pear.
Here is a link to two more great pear recipes.
Wondering what the heck the other desserts are? Me too. I haven’t made them yet (or maybe ever) but happily share the recipes below. If you make them let me know.
Almond Delight –You must be serene when you cook Chinese.
Eight Precious Pudding – This is a famous traditional banquet dessert. Usually it contains eight kinds of dried candied fruits that represent eight precious stones. The combination of sweet rice and bean paste gives it an exquisite taste. [beans are not dessert]
Red Bean Paste Recipe
Peking Wall – This wall is a thing of beauty, not only to see but to taste, as well. [I think it might actually be fun to build and you would learn a cool new skill to make threads with chopsticks].
Red-in-Snow Mousse – This is a Western dessert, turned Chinese with crab apple sauce by the proprietor of Sun Ya restaurant in Shanghai 50 years ago. Red is the color that gladdens the heart of ant Oriental, it has become a most popular dessert. [as mentioned, sounds a wee bit communist and likely the represents two of the few crab apple recipes out there.] Involves a Jell-O mold so you now its legit.
Red Bean Paste
So who is Madame Wong? If alive today, she be 108 years old. (she was in her 70s when her book was published). Earned legend status teaching at UCLA in Extension classes. Her mantra was “Be optimistic, ignore bad things, love people, think of others more, and of course, eat well-balanced meals.” Favorite foods: Bean curd and bok choy. Was friends with Barbara Streisand. Madame Wong passed away in 2008 (age 103), and truly lived a long life.
Words of Wisdom from Madame Wong – No medicine can cure stupidity.
Looking forward to cooking more tasty dishes!
Resources and other Madame Wong Features:
- Madame Wong’s Long-life Chinese Cookbook – ST Ting Wong with Sylvia Schulman 1977. Ontario Contemporary Books.