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Like Mother, Like Daughter

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)  by San Franciscan Eric Gower, who lived in Japan for 15 years.

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”