I can’t believe I’ve never eaten a ripe persimmon before this week. There was a persimmon tree behind one of the houses our family rented when I was growing up, but I must have always been too impatient with it. I’d only ever eaten them puckery. But then this week Alan, my brother, started agitating to buy some. Sometimes he’ll do that, get an ingredient on the brain that “we should do something with.”
I saw them on sale at our local Korean market, Joong Boo, and their festive fall color could not be denied. I went there to buy the oysters for our cornbread stuffing. We love their seafood department, which often has two or more fishmongers working to filet, sashimi-tize or otherwise process fresh seafood.
But back to the persimmons, which have flabbergasted me today with how tasty, and how interesting they were. We ate them two ways: sugared and buttered on a puff pastry tart, and diced and salt-and-peppered for a (romaine-free) green salad.
Both dishes really worked, but I noticed there was a huge difference between the textures and sweetness levels of the ripe and less-ripe persimmons. I’d put both into the tarts, where the sweeter ones worked better and in the salad, where both less and more ripe persimmons were delicious in different ways; the less-ripe tangy like a tomato and the more ripe akin to adding sliced ripe peaches to a salad. Sweet that you’d want to offset, as with a bracingly acidic dressing and/or a bit of heat.
I was so impressed by the persimmons that I had a bit of Google, so I can share with you that unlike most of the commercial persimmon species, both of the American persimmon species must be completely ripe before they’re edible. The species that are at first astringent and then mellow out are apparently the most prized. The most common commercial species is the Fuyu, which is what I bought at the Korean market.
The word persimmon, according to Wikipedia “is derived from putchamin, pasiminan, or pessamin, from Powhatan, an Algonquian language of the eastern United States, meaning ‘a dry fruit’.”
I think the persimmons in the salad were my favorite. They ripen here in Illinois after the tomatoes are done for the summer, and I immediately nominated them “fall’s tomato.” Throw them in a salad the next time you have people over. Here’s hoping you had a fabulous Thanksgiving!
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