In my practice, I rarely prescribe Chinese herbal medicine unless it is necessary. My theory is: If the patient is able to feel better with a little home remedy or change in lifestyle and to return the body to the natural balance, why medicine?
In direct translation from Chinese classical texts, steam pears with rock sugar have the benefits of to reduce phlegm, clear heat, moisten the lung, and cool the heart. To put this in the modern context, steam pears with rock sugar can help to reduce swollen throat, smooth irritation at throat, reduce cough (especially loud ones), prevent dehydration of respiratory tract, clear phlegm, and reduce fever. In one sentence, it is good for cough with phlegm from common cold or allergy/irritation.
From my experience, it is also good for dry cough or dry throat. And, to my surprise, it sometimes helps with constipation that sometimes comes with prolong cough or fever. For elderly or children who are more prone to seasonal flu, this is also a good remedy for flu prevention. One more thing is that pears are in season now, and it is always good to consume food while it is in season. According to USA Pears, most pears are usually in season from fall to early spring.
Lets talk about the ingredients. As the name of this remedy, the two core ingredients are pears and rock sugar. Additional ingredients can be added for additional benefits. Here is a short list for the common ones that people usually like to use and can be found in supermarket here in US. Of course, you can always go to the Chinese grocery or herbal shops to look for them.
For the main ingredients, you can use any kind of pears. I have made this remedy with various kinds of pears and all taste good and work well. Of course, my personal favorite is still the Asian pear because it is what I grew up with, but I do not see the reason to travel miles and troubles to get Asian pear.
There are two colors for the rock sugar. One is clear and one is yellow. Some say that it is better to use the yellow ones, but in my opinion, whichever you have access to would do the job. The yellow one is usually in irregular shape, so additional effort might be required to break them into smaller pieces. For those who should not eat too much sugar, this dish can be done with little or no sugar. The benefit of the sugar is to help to nourish yin and clear heat, but it can be replace with Yin Er or other ingredients listed above.
So, how much of each ingredient is needed for one pear? Normally, I go by feeling, but here is a general guideline for reference.
Here are the steps to make steam pears with rock sugar:
For those who don’t have the time dig out the seed or want to make more pears at a time without many bowls.You can slide and dice the pears up as how you want it to be served, and place all ingredients together in a big bowl or deep plate. Then follow step 3 to steam the pears. I cook it this way all the time because it is quicker to prepare and I always make it for my whole family when I need to make this dish. If I make too much, I just put the extra in the refrigerator and serve it at room temperature or warm the next day or later in the week. Some say that it actually taste better after being in the refrigerator overnight.
This dish can be served anytime throughout the day. For those who is coughing, it is a good idea to eat the whole pear and drink the soup that is generated in the cooking process. For those who are using this for its prevention purpose, half is good enough, and I would still recommend drinking the soup especially for those who use additional ingredients.
Alright, this is enough introduction about this steam pear with rock sugar. You can explore your own way of making this dish as it is very easy to make and can be turned into many different interesting dishes.