I’m never one to say that you have to be Asian to cook Asian food well. A friend of mine, Andrea Slonecker, is a food stylist, recipe developer, researcher, and writer. She tested the recipes for Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok cookbook I cooked with Andrea earlier this year at an event for the International Association Culinary Professionals, a guild that we both belong to. She’s smart and funny. She’s also a thoughtful cook.
That’s why I was intrigued by a new little book she’s authored about pears. I love pears -- raw and poached. At Christmas time, I gift my parents Harry and David pears. My mom sets them aside to eat with us after my siblings and their families have departed, when she and my dad feel more relaxed and can savor the perfect fruit. Pears also come in many textures and varieties too. Asian pears figure into Korean cooking lots but for the most part, I eat them raw.
Paging through Andrea’s new publication from Short Stack Editions (a charming series of handy small cookbooks focused on one ingredient at a time), I came across her Asian pear salad. It intrigued me for several reasons. Pears are not a fruit that I’ve thought of using in Viet salads; we use other fruits like papaya, mango, and there are recipes that call for green apple. I was curious.