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Yid.Dish: Poached Pears With Apple Juice and Agar

Poached Pears

I used to write once in a while for JCarrot, yet over the past few months, I have returned to bystander status. Ironically, it’s because I’ve been sucked further into the world (quite happily) of food. I am enrolled at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Their Chef’s Training Program program focuses on specifically on health-supportive food. They do a great job of training us to work in professional kitchens, to become private chefs and to really follow and pursue our dreams.

One of the most eye opening things I’ve been exposed to is all sorts of types of sea vegetables. Kombu, arame, hijiki, wakame, and my new favorite, agar. Using agar enables us to create dishes that would otherwise utilize gelatin, as it sets in a similar way. And for those scientists out there, it’s the same stuff you grow cultures in the lab.

Asian desserts called Kantens are delicious. They are the jello I never ate as a child, as I didn’t want to eat gelatin. And the best part is that you can flavor it any way you like. My favorite (for now) is poached pears in a good fruit juice, and then agar cooked into the juice to set it. To use it, you have to dissolve the agar flakes completely, or you will get chunky bits in your jello, which is not desirable.

I’m not sure about its kosher for passover status – do sea vegetables need a special kosher for P symbol? I’m planning on using it regardless, but I’d love opinions!

You can buy agar in the seaweed section of your local Whole Foods or natural foods store. You can buy kuzu, which is a starch made from the root by the same name, in that section as well.

Here’s a super easy recipe for making the poached pears with apple juice and agar:
(serves 6-8)

4 bosc pears, peeled halved, and cored
1 quart unfiltered apple juice (or whatever is your favorite flavor juice)
1.5 tablespoons agar flakes
1 tablespoon kuzu dissolved in 1/4 cup water

1. Poach pears in juice until fork tender. Remove pears with a slotted spoon, cover, and chill. Slice when chilled.

2. Simmer remaining poaching liquid with agar flakes until agar is dissolved. Stir in kuzu “glaze” and cook over medium heat until mixture clears up. It will not be completely clear, but it will also not look chalky. Remove from heat and cool a bit.

3. Arrange sliced pears in a dish (bowl, casserole dish, pot if you’re desperate!) and pour over agar mixture. Refrigerate until set. It will keep well in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

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5 Responses to “Yid.Dish: Poached Pears With Apple Juice and Agar”

  1. Adam Jackson, Editor-in-Chief Says:

    I love poached pears. They’re very good with red wine and cloves, but I wonder how the alcohol might react with the agar here? Would it work?

  2. Rachel B. Says:

    Funny, I was wondering the same myself…I made my first agar dessert last week, grapefruit and pineapple juice with the fruit mixed in. It was good, just not “bouncy” like gelatin. But my baby loved it.
    Someone should ask a rabbi.

  3. susan g Says:

    You show a crust. Can we have the recipe? Looks good!

  4. Eli Says:

    hi Rachel,
    You might try using a bit more agar to make it firmer. It will never be exactly like gelatin, but you can get really close by increasing the amount you use.

    I made a nut crust – you can use almost any combination of the following:

    whole rolled oats

    grind about 2 cups of your choice of the above in a food processor, add about 1/4 cup of maple syrup and the same amount of fat (melted butter or melted coconut oil). form into a doughlike ball, and press into a tart pan, evently. dock with a fork and bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes until it’s golden. cool, glaze with jelly if you’d like (raspberry is in the photo) and then place in your fruit and pour in you juice/agar combo… really, the combinations for both the crust and fruit are endless!

  5. Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz Says:

    Hi Eli,
    So glad to have you back, writing on the blog! thanks for sharing this recipe and the amazing cake you brought us here in the Hazon office before Passover.

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