Pear Salad with an Asian Twist

We were making Japanese-style braised veggies for lunch (p.132 in the Z.R.C. if you’re wondering) and I needed a salad to match. There were lots of pears in the store-room, and pondered if a dressing made with some yuzu zest might just do the trick?

If you haven’t come across it before, yuzu is a citrus fruit prized for its aroma that lingers somewhere between lemon, tangerine, and grapefruit flavors. Luckily we had some hanging about the kitchen, and to add a nice spicy twist, a finger of fresh horseradish left over from Christmas. Lovely.

However, you may need to rely on a few substitutions for this recipe if you can’t find all the ingredients at hand. Instead of yuzu, lemon zest will work for that hint of aromatic freshness;  if the horseradish season is over, try a squish of wasabi paste from a tube or a teaspoon of prepared horseradish from a jar. And to substitute both the sake and mirin, which might be hard to get too, use 2 tablespoons of dry sherry or fortified white wine and sweeten with a teaspoon of sugar.

½ teaspoon lemon zest, or even better, yuzu zest  
2 tablespoons lemon juice
5 cm (2 inch) length fresh horseradish (or a squish of wasabi paste to taste)

1 tablespoon sake (rice wine) 
1 tablespoon mirin (sweetened rice wine)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Pinch salt
3 medium pears
75 g rocket leaves (arugula) or baby leaf spinach

  • Grate the zest from the lemon if using, and press the juice.
  • Peel and grate the fresh horseradish with a fine microplane grater.
  • Combine the lemon, zest, and horseradish with the sake, mirin, soy sauce and salt in a salad bowl. Season to suit your taste.
  • Cut the pears into quarters lengthwise, trim out the core and cut into diagonal slices.
  • To prevent browning, toss the pears through the dressing immediately.
  • Just before serving, combine the pears with the rocket or spinach leaves.

 

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