Persimmon “Pico de Gallo”

persimmon salsa, pico de gallo, branzino

Pan-Seared Branzino (Mediterranean Sea Bass)
Fuyu Persimmon “Pico de Gallo”

The fuyu’s shape and size, plus its firm but supple texture is somewhat reminiscent of a tomato…which gave me the idea to try it as a substitute for that unseasonal fruit in a wintery version of pico de gallo. The Korean market where I often shop has huge displays of both fuyu and hachiya varieties of the persimmon, in season October through February. This salsa fresca is savory but has a hint of honey-apple sweetness. It has bracing acidity from the fresh lime juice and medium spiciness from the jalapeno. In addition to making a bright refreshing topping for this sea bass we thoroughly enjoyed it paired with a crispy-skin salmon too.

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New Korean Salad: Chrysanthemum Greens, Chestnut, Persimmon

korean salad, persimmon salad
Fresh Chrysanthemum Greens, Roasted Chestnut
Semi-Dried Hachiya Persimmon, Fresh Fuyu Persimmon Wedges
Toasted Sesame Vinaigrette
Pomegranate Arils, Toasted Pine Nuts, Roasted Laver

Inspiration from two separate dining experiences sparked the idea for creation of this delightful salad. First, an outstanding meal at Jun Won in LA, a gem of a restaurant that features regional Korean cooking from the province of Chungcheongnam-do. I was captivated by their salad of chrysanthemum greens (sukgat) with chestnut jelly. A week later we attended an event highlighting the “Tastes of the Korean Forest” including sanchae (wild vegetables grown in the mountains), oak mushroom, chestnut, and persimmon.

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Persimmon Tarte Tatin, Crème Fraîche

persimmon tarte tatin

Fuyu Persimmon Tarte Tatin

Persimmon is a most understood fruit. Those who “hate” persimmon probably do so as a result of a confusion between fuyu and hachiya varieties.

If you attempted to eat an unripe hachiya, that is certainly the cause of your disgust. An unripe hiachya is super-tannic and can taste like chalk or bark. Or worse. Its astringency makes it totally unpalatable. A fully ripe hachiya, however, has the consistency of jelly and is sweet and rich. And a ripe fuyu has a firm texture and tastes like a honey-flavored apple. Now, who “hates” that?

Persimmon has the pizzazzy color and flavor of autumn and makes a great fruit for a tarte tatin. Be sure to use fuyu persimmons and save the RIPE hachiya for something else.

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a persimmon dreamsicle

a   p e r s i m m o n    d r e a m s i c l e

a    f r o z e n    p e r s i m m o n    i n t e r m e z z o

Last month Sally and I had the opportunity to harvest a ton of hachiya persimmons at the home of our friend Alice. This fabulous fruit is ready to pick here October through December only. And as Alice said, “if we didn’t take ’em, the birds surely would.” That was on December 8. Later that week, with the ripe ones, I made a persimmon bread pudding with a bourbon creme anglaise. Sally made a terrific ultra-moist persimmon steam pudding.

As the individual fruits ripen in their own sweet time, we had a bounty of the fruit for a month. When each fruit became extremely soft, I would squeeze out the pulp and save it, well-covered, in the refrigerator until I had enough to make a batch of frozen persimmon “intermezzos.” One batch was turned into a refreshing dessert reminiscent of the orange creamsicles we got from the Good Humor man as kids.

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PeRsiMMoN-PaLoOZa: hachiya & fuyu

PeRsiMMoN

two ways
steam pudding with sliced fuyu and chantilly cream flavored with brandy
verrine layered with hachiya pulp, steam pudding, chantilly cream

hachiya & fuyu

Hachiya is heart-shaped. Fuyu is tomato-shaped. And the differences don’t end there.

The hachiya must be completely ripe to be palatable, or else the taste is astringent and off-putting, reminiscent of chalk. But when it is ripe it is sublime – a not-too-sweet apricot-like flavor, with a hint of honey, and unique slippery texture. The fuyu – on the other hand – can be eaten like an apple, diced for a salad or salsa, or sliced into wedges when it is softer and served with dessert or cheese. Persimmon has the pizzazzy flavor of Fall!

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persimmon bread pudding, bourbon creme anglaise


persimmon bread pudding with walnuts and raisins
kentucky bourbon creme anglaise


persimmon tree & view of cabrillo beach from alice’s home

“I’ve got persimmons coming out my ears!” After work, Sally and I went over to Alice’s to help her with her “persimmon situation.”  If we didn’t harvest the fruit, the birds surely would.

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