Like Mother, Like Daughter

Fuyus and fresh ginger make magic together.

Sort of. Kind of.

When it comes to persimmons anyways.

You see, I was never a persimmon fan until I reached adulthood. As a child, though, I remember my late-Mom having baskets of persimmons all over the kitchen and dining room at this time of year. They were the acorn-shaped Hachiya variety, the ones that are bitter and nasty astringent if eaten unripe. You had to wait patiently, to be rewarded when they turned soft and sweet like summer apricots. And my Mom was nothing if not patient.

I, on the other hand, admit to enjoying more instant gratification at times. Plus, as a kid, there was something so horror flick-like about watching fruit get more and more gushy before you ate it out of hand, the sticky flesh smeared all over your fingers. “Attack of the Strange Orange Fruit,” anyone? It was enough to give you the heebie-jeebies.

Now that I can appreciate persimmons, though, I prefer the squatty Fuyu. After all, with this type, there’s no waiting. You eat it when it’s still firm and crisp. My kind of persimmon.

I love it in salads. The orange color lends a jewel-like contrast to leaves of bitter greens tossed with toasted walnuts. Or enjoy them with the heat of ginger in this salad from “The Breakaway Cook” (William Morrow)ย  by San Franciscan Eric Gower, who lived in Japan for 15 years.

Known fact: I love ginger.

A heap of minced fresh ginger (1/4 cup!!) is softened in a little butter, maple syrup and champagne vinegar, then poured over Fuyu slices. It’s as simple as that. The sweet burn of fresh ginger pairs harmoniously with the sweetness of the Fuyus. If you dress the persimmons earlier in the day, then refrigerate them until serving later that night, the fruit will soften a bit, for those who like their Fuyus a little less crisp.

I served this “Persimmon Salad with Sweet Ginger Vinaigrette” alongside big, beefy short ribs. As one guest remarked: It was akin to a fresh chutney that cut the richness of the meat.

My Mom had the patience to wait for the optimum time to eat her persimmons. Then, she’d just eat them as is. Me? I don’t like waiting around so long for my fruit. But then again, I have the patience to transform them into something more.

Like mother, like daughter?

You bet. In my family, I kinda like to think the fruit didn’t fall too far from the tree.

Persimmon Salad with Sweet Ginger Vinaigrette

(serves 4)

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup minced peeled fresh ginger

Pinch of kosher salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon champagne vinegar or other light vinegar

3 Fuyu (flat-bottomed) persimmons, peeled and sliced into irregular shapes

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh mint leaves

Melt butter with oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add ginger, salt and pepper, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add maple syrup and vinegar, and set aside.

Arrange persimmon slices on 4 plates, spoon sauce over each, and top with mint.

From “The Breakaway Cook”

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  • Yummmm! Thanks for this great recipe! Until I tasted this salad, I thought persimmons were nothing more than beautiful adornments. Now my mouth waters when I see one. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Thank you for this!! I am still “working on” appreciation of persimmons. Never had them growing up. I had a ripe Hachiya a couple of weeks ago that I had bought weeks prior at the Corn Palace. I think my problem with them is that when ripe, they are so soft they seem rotten, even though they’re not. And they’re too sweet for my taste.

    I am going to try a Fuyu next.

  • I don’t like those hachiyas because of the texture. I much prefer the fuyus.

  • correction, I (Nate) does not like hachiyas. Annie likes ’em both.

  • I’ve liked persimmons since I was a little girl. They are gorgeous and sweet, and I always just eat them as is.

    This is a very intriguing idea!

  • Maybe one day I’ll grow to appreciate the hachiya variety more. Just maybe.

  • Thank you Carolyn, stunning photo! So glad you liked the recipe. Lately I’ve been baking eggs with persimmons (chopped up on the bottom of a buttered ramekin, then the egg, herbs and seasoned breadcrumbs on top), and making oatmeal with hachiya goop (plus milk, crystallized ginger, vanilla, and dates). Very sad to see the end of persimmon season.

    Thanks again! I’ve bookmarked the site, and will be back.

  • Hachiya goop?!! I LOVE that! Eric, I never would have thought to pair persimmons with baked eggs. But then again, that’s why I love your book — it’s just a wealth of inspiring flavor and ingredient pairings. And now that you’re mentioning hachiyas with my fave crystallized ginger, I might just have to give that a try, since I can never get enough of crystallized ginger.

  • Perfect! I have four persimmons still on the tree (just out of reasonable reach and in need of a ladder to harvest) The last of the rest were mixed in with some butternut squash and coconut milk in lieu of a sweet potato dish for our holiday feast yesterday. This will make a beautiful New Year’s Eve salad. (Hurrying over now to check out Mr. Gower of the very evocative “Hachiya goop” ingredient comment ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Speaking of Hachiay goo, did you ever try to freeze them? I’d read about this before but never wanted to forego eating them fresh to try it. This year we got more contraband produce from CA in the mail than we could eat at once. Frozen Hachiya comes out like a creamy custard. It’s an amazing thing. But very goeey to eat. It’s sort of a race to see if your teeth can withstand the cold before you’re wearing the goo on your hands – maybe I just don’t have the technique of eating the frozen ones down yet.

    Fuyus are growing on me. My recent favorite prep is in salad. I like to pair them with slightly bitter greens like arugula, then some of my precious Oliviers bergamot olive oil and Katz Sauvignon Blanc vinegar. Just a few drops of each.

    Do you know if you can cook fuyus in recipes that call for hachiyas? I suspect the recipe (like Flo Fab’s semifreddo in the NYT this Thanksgiving) would need a little more moisture or something?

    Now, what about all my Meyer Lemons? What to do?

  • jacqueline, I have had very good luck substituting my fresh Fuyus for anything that calls for apples in baking. They make a great dark spicy “cake”. Also, you can use that frozen Hachiya “goo” (I so love that term ๐Ÿ™‚ ) just like fresh in your baked recipes — works just fine, and no “brain freeze”.

  • And Jacqueline: Stay tuned in January when I show you two things to do with Meyer lemons. How’s that for a teaser? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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