If your mother was ill and close to death, yet she refused to take her medicine — is there anything you would not try to save her life? This is the problem once faced by a revered Chancellor of the Tang Dynasty named Wei Zheng. His solution: he hid the herbal medicine in an otherwise common dessert of pears.
Wei Zheng probably thought nothing of his little ruse. However, here we are over a thousand years later, and his cook-by-the-seat-of-his-pants recipe remains a staple for wellness in Chinese culture.
The dish was so delicious and effective (a good story about saving someone’s mom never hurts either) that it became a prized secret dish of the imperial court.
From early in the Tang Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, a period of over 1,000 years, the recipe was entirely withheld from the public. It remained a delicacy reserved for the emperor and aristocrats. In time, the herb were eschewed, and what remained was a surprising simple list of ingredients.
During the reign of the Emperor Kangxi of the Qing dynasty, however, it was smuggled out by a court physician and quickly spread throughout China. It was most well-received in the hutongs (alleyway houses) of old Beijing. In those days the autumn pear trees grew abundantly in the suburbs, and pear sauce (or pear paste) was sold in enormous jars at morning markets across the city.
Chinese lore says yellow pear sauce moistens lungs, relieves coughs, quenches thirst, and even purifies the mind. Pear sauce can also help to prevent sunstroke and dehydration. Even the great doctor Li Shizhen, one of the greatest medical practitioners of ancient China, recommended it, which makes us fully confident to share the secret recipe with you here today. May it bring you health and clarity during these difficult times.
5 yellow pears
80g pitted dried dates
20g of ginger
100g of honey
100g of rock sugar
Directions: Wash, core, and peel the pears, then mash the pears into a paste.
Slice the ginger, and combine it with the mashed pears, dates, and rock sugar in a wok. Cover, and cook on high heat, stirring regularly until the mixture boils; then simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes.
Remove the pear dregs, dates, and ginger slices. Then continue to simmer over low heat for about 60 minutes. When the mixture in the wok becomes thick, turn off the heat, and let the sauce cool.
Once it has cooled, mix in the honey (adding the honey while the mixture is hot can damage its nutrients.) Pour the sauce into sealable containers and refrigerate.