Pears Steamed with Cinnamon & Cloves

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An incredibly refreshing and soothing Chinese dessert prepared with freshly cut Asian pears, cinnamon and cloves. This light fruit dessert can be enjoyed as a ‘cooling’ tonic on hot days, or as a ‘warming’ soup during winter.

A tonifying dessert is way overdue for me! I’ve been rather over-indulgent lately with cakes and bakes, and eating plenty of pizza (home-made of course!), grilled satay, curries, fried fish and chips, and more of the same, so much so that my body has started to protest.

Feeling the onset of a dry and slightly sore throat and a nose that’s just making me sniffle a little too much, I quickly recalled that I had lots of Asian pears in my refrigerator and thought, what luck! Home remedy of steamed pears coming up! Not only are steamed pears as a natural remedy healthy and beneficial, they taste wonderful as well. Pear-fect for my moment of need!

Did you know…

It is widely accepted in traditional Chinese medicine that pears have a tonifying effect on our lung energy. This humble fruit also moisturises the body, promotes secretions of vital fluids and brings about a cooling effect on the body system. A generous helping of steamed pears is therefore an excellent remedy to help clear congested lungs, dryness in the respiratory system and over-heated chests.

I prepared this dessert of pears steamed with cinnamon and cloves, with a dash of brandy, to add additional layers of flavour. The cinnamon and cloves offer warming properties which are beneficial on cold weather days or during late autumn and winter seasons. On hot weather days, you can omit these spices and just enjoy this fruit steamed with rock sugar and drizzled over with honey. I particularly enjoy having these pears chilled till cold – it’s remarkably soothing and refreshing!

Some recipes call for honey to be steamed together with the sliced pears, but high temperature destroys the good bacteria in honey so I always have it drizzled over the fruit after it’s been steamed through. Honey is also very soothing for a dry or sore throat, so its pairing with steamed pears is truly beneficial. So when you’re next feeling a little worse for wear, do nourish your health with a generous serving of steamed pears!


Pears Steamed with Cinnamon & Cloves

Pears Steamed with Cinnamon & Cloves

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

A healthy and refreshing sweet dessert of pears steamed with cinnamon and cloves. Serve either warm or chilled, drizzled over with honey. (Source: Herbal Chinese Cooking for Health by Daniel Reid)


  • 8 small Asian or Chinese pears, skin on, halved and cored
  • 1 1/2 tbsp crushed rock sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp brandy or rum, (optional)
  • Some honey, for serving


  1. Place the pear halves with the cinnamon and cloves in a heatproof dish. Add the water and brandy or rum (optional).
  2. Fill a wok 1/4 full with water and place a steaming rack over the water at a height where the dish is above the water level when placed on the rack. Bring to boil over high heat. When water is boiling, using a pair of tongs or heatproof mittens, carefully place the dish on the rack. Cover the wok with its lid. Steam for 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on how soft you prefer to enjoy your pears. Occasionally check the water level, adding more hot water should the wok nearly run dry.
  3. When cooked through to softness, remove dish from the wok carefully as there will be more juices with the water. Dish out into individual serving bowls, ladle equal amounts of syrup and drizzle over with liberal amounts of honey, to taste.

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