Persimmons' pleasures

Three recipes make the most of a seasonal treat.

Persimmon recipe
By Adam Ried
November 28, 2010

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If you’re not careful, a bite of persimmon can be a real doozy. My very first taste of the fruit was particularly memorable, because I bit into an underripe Hachiya persimmon. It was, unquestionably, the most astringent thing I’d ever tasted (I hadn’t yet tried a fresh, uncured olive, but that’s another story). Despite its annual appearance on holiday tables, I steered clear of the fruit, but then I discovered Fuyu persimmons, and the game was back on. Fuyus are honeyed and buttery, with rich, banana-like flavors, and best of all, they are not tannic like the Hachiyas. For salads, salsas, stews, and snacking, Fuyus are my persimmon of choice. Hachiyas, however, are great for puddings, custards, and baking. (See Kitchen Aide for more.)

Persimmon and Avocado Salad with Ginger-Yogurt Dressing Serves 6 Transform this salad into a light meal by adding shrimp. Don’t prep the fruits more than about 20 minutes before serving or they will begin to discolor.

1/3 cup plain yogurt

2 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, plus 1 large lime slice

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

Salt and pepper

3 ripe Hass avocados, halved and cut into thin slices

5 small or 4 medium Fuyu persimmons (about 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled and cut into thin slices

1/2 medium shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

In a small nonreactive bowl, whisk the yogurt, honey, lime juice, ginger, coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to blend, and set aside.

Squeeze the lime slice over the avocado. On a serving plate, arrange the avocado and persimmon slices. Sprinkle with shallot, drizzle with yogurt dressing, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve at once.

Pork Stew with Preserved Lemon and Persimmon Serves 6

31/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

Salt and black pepper

2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium onions, chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 medium preserved lemons, pulp discarded, rind rinsed well and finely chopped (about 6 tablespoons)

4 small or 3 medium Fuyu persimmons (about 1 pound total), peeled and cut into 1-inch wedges

6 scallions, thinly sliced

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a medium bowl, toss the pork with 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and the flour to coat. In a large, heavy Dutch oven, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium-high heat until it ripples. Add half the pork, so that pieces are close together in a single layer but not touching, and cook, without moving, until deeply browned on the bottom, about 3 1/2 minutes. Turn pork and cook without moving until second side is deeply browned, about 3 1/2 minutes longer; transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with remaining pork, first adding 2 more teaspoons of oil to the pot and allowing to heat.

Reduce heat to medium, add remaining oil, allow to heat for a moment, then add the onions, bell pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir to coat with the oil, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 40 seconds. Add the chicken broth, increase the heat to high, and, using a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pot until the brown film dissolves into the liquid, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and pork with accumulated juices, bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, cover, and simmer until the pork is tender, about 2 hours.

Add the preserved lemons and stir to combine. Taste the stew and adjust the seasoning with salt and black pepper, if necessary. Add the persimmon wedges, stir to mix, partially cover the pot, and cook until persimmon is warmed through and barely tender, about 10 minutes longer. Add most of the scallions and parsley, and stir gently to combine. Serve at once, sprinkling each portion with some of the remaining scallions and parsley.

Brandied Persimmon and Cherry Dessert Salsa

Makes about 3 cups

A great topping for rice pudding, vanilla ice cream, toasted slices of poundcake, or even hot oatmeal. If you want a soft, custardy salsa, use 2 medium Hachiya persimmons; make sure they’re ripe.

1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped

2 tablespoons juice and 1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 orange

5 small or 4 medium firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons (about 1 1/2 pounds total), peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)

2 teaspoons honey

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons brandy

Pinch ground cardamom

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted and cooled

In a medium nonreactive bowl, combine the cherries and orange juice, stir to mix, and set aside until cherries begin to soften, about 45 minutes. To the softened cherries, add the orange zest, persimmons, honey, vanilla, brandy, and cardamom, stir to mix well, cover, and set aside for flavors to marry, about 20 minutes. Add the almonds, stir to mix, and serve at once.

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  • November 28, 2010 cover
  • Nov. 28 Magazine

Fuyu vs. Hachiya Persimmons

The two types of persimmons you’re likely to see in stores this time of year are Hachiyas, which are orangey-red and heart-shaped, coming to a point on the bottom, and Fuyus, which are a deeper orange and shaped more like small, squat beefsteak tomatoes, with blunt bottoms. Hachiyas must be eaten fully ripe, almost to the point of being mushy. Fuyus can be eaten firm, from downright crisp to just a little soft, and they’re not at all tannic. Look for Fuyus that are firm, glossy, and free of bruises or discoloration. Ideally, the stem should not be deep brown, but tinged with pale green. The skin of both is edible, but I usually remove it because I prefer the texture of the fruit alone.