囍有此梨 Poached Pear in Aged Osmanthus Wine
Poached Pears in Red Wine is a signature french fruit dessert which is both easy to prepare and delcious to enjoy. Better known as “Poires Au Vin Rouge“, this french classic uses port or some other full-bodied fortified wine as a base for a thick syrup enriched with spices. Its origins can be traced back to another French dessert named Poire belle Hélène created by by Auguste Escoffier, named after the operetta La belle Hélène by Jacques Offenbach. Incidentally creating desserts after popular themes or famous people seemed to be Escoffier’s
favorite past-time speciality as he also gave us Pêche Melba, after the famous Australia prima donna. Jacky Wu of 囍宴 Xi Yan, a restaurant chain in Hong Kong and Singapore specialising in the concept of “private dining” decidedly gave this dish an Oriental twist with their restaurant signature “囍有此梨” 桂花陳酒燴啤梨 Poached Pear in Aged Osmanthus Wine, with the incorporation of 桂花陈酒 aged osmanthus wine from China. The palate experience provided is quite different from that of the original Poires Au Vin Rouge but no less enjoyable!
“囍有此梨” whose name was burlesquely and if I may add, aptly crafted with reference to the homophonic “岂有此理” is a simple dessert to prepare according to the original recipe published in his cookbook 囍宴私房菜 2009 – Jacky Wu: Food, Attitude, Life. A good friend Wilson Mak of Le Petite Vancouver brought the whole dish to a whole new level with his signature avant garde plating techniques which can put a lot of professional chefs to shame. I remember being blown away when he first showed me the finished piece on his blog. Jacky Wu would have been proud, if not in awe on how his dish had been revolutionalised. Aptly skilled folks cook, exceptionally gifted ones create. And without doubt, Wilson falls into the latter category. So Wilson my dear friend, as we have discussed over and over again so many times, you definitely have what it takes! So go for it!
The version I attempted used Wilson’s design as a base. I’d modified the recipe slighjtly and changed a few elements to made it even more Oriental with the incorporation of more chinese elements like 枸杞子goji berries and 陈皮 dried tangerine skin. For sure my feeble attempt is not as sharply presented as Wilson’s. But at least I had a chance to replicate and enjoy what he’d also created. Definitely worth the effort. Hopefully it does his work justice! The dessert is made up the following components, i.e. poached pears, orange confit, reconsituted goji berries, osmanthus wine reduction, gelato of choice.
囍有此梨 Poached Pear in Aged Osmanthus Wine (serves 3) Orginal recipe from “囍宴私房菜 2009 – Jacky Wu: Food, Attitude, Life.”, modified from here.
3 pears or European variety e.g. Bosch (洋梨)
1/2 bottle of aged osmanthus wine (桂花陈酒)
100g rock sugar (冰糖)
250ml water （水）
1 complete dried tangerine skin (陈皮）
Peel of half an fresh orange (鲜橙皮)
1 small piece cinnamon stick （桂皮)
1/2 vanilla pod scraped (香草夹/云尼拿)
20g dried goji berries (枸杞子） + another 10-15 for reconstitution
dried osmanthus flowers (桂花)
1. Peel the pears. Place the remaining ingredients except goji berries into a pot and bring to boil.
2. Once boiled, put in the pears and cover the pot with lid. Cook over low heat for 20-25 minutes until the pears are tender.
3. Turn off the heat and leave them to cool
4. Transfer the pears with poaching liquids and contents into a container and allow to steep in the fridge overnight.
5. Remove poached pears from liquids and set aside.
6. Return poaching liquids together with all of its contents into a saucepot and add 20g dried goji berries. Bring everything to a boil.
7. Put the remaining 10-15 goji berries in a small bowl and drizzle over 2-3 tbsp of hot poaching liquids. Let the berries steep and reconstitute until completely cooled.
8. Lower flame to simmer and allow the excess water to evaporate.
9. When the liquids are 2/3 of original volume and consistency begins to thicken slightly, remove the peel of half an orange. Allow to cool slightly and juilenne into fine strips.
10. Allow the liquids to continue evaporating until a rather thick and viscous concoction remains. Turn off flame and stop cooking by plunging base of saucepot over a shallow bowl/basin of water. Leave aside to cool down completely.
11. To plate, first drizzle with osmanthus wine reduction.
7. Transfer the pear onto the plate and drizzle some reduction over it. Garnish the pear with some dried osmanthus flowers, reconstituted goji berries, orange zest confit and fresh mint leaves.
8. Serve with a quenelle of ice-cream/sorbet of choice on the side.
Something I’d learnt from another friend, Chef Aaron Quay, pastry chef at Grand Hyatt KL, i.e placing a piece of parchment cut to size over the surface to help ensure that the pears cook evenly. A neat lil’ trick! Thanks Aaron!
I used forelle pears for the dish as they were in season a couple of weeks back and eft them to blet in the fridge for quite sometime for the flavours to develop completely. The pears should be still reasonably firm but exude the wonderful aroma of fully ripen fruits. This is something I’d learnt from Chef Nicholas Lam, another very talented pastry chef-cum-chocolatier and friend.
I thought that goji berries added a nice touch to the dish. They are not cooked entirely as with the remaining goji berries thrown into the poaching liquids. Instead, they were just barely soften and reconstituted with some poaching liquids to allow the berries to retain much of their original flavours.
Boiling down the poaching liquids to form the reduction.Goji berries added in the reduction for their flavours. Another portion is set aside for rconstitution and plating. Thanks Melissa from Little Gingerbread Boy for the goji berries!
Making the orange confit was an impromptu decision as the original recipe called for lime and orange zest. I replaced that with 陈皮 dried tangerine skin which is far far more robust in both aroma and flavour compared to fresh zest. Its presence was warmly felt in the pears which I liked. Some peel were thrown in for a hint of citrusy aroma and since the peel had nicely soften from the overnight poaching, I thought why not incorporate them into the plating for an additional dimension of flavour and texture.
Well, as you can see, I really suck at making quenelles. And photographing quenelles must sure count as the top 10 most nerve -wrecking things to photograph, despite having chilled the plats (yes I stand by more than 1) for some time. I kinda gave up after the 4th try as they melted and flooded the plate continually. The original intention was to make ice-cream out of fermented glutinous rice 酒釀 since that is a de facto pairing component with osmanthus flowers as well and would definitely provide an intoxicating alcoholic oomph! Unfortunately, time was not in my favour and I settled for storebought matcha gelato instead. Not ideal but this would have to do for now.
I’m submitting this to Aspiring Bakers #23: Desserts on a plate (September 2012)hosted by Swee San of The Sweet Spot