How often do you go to the Farmers’ Market, or grocery store, and pass produce with names you cannot pronounce? You have not a clue if it’s ripe, nevermind how best to prepare it. And rather than enquire, you turn back to your grocery list and stick with the norm. I do it all the time.
Recently at the farmers market, I forced myself out of my produce rut when a bright orange fruit display caught my attention amongst the traditional harvested squash and apples. They were persimmons. I did not know their variety, if they were ripe or rotten, sweet or savory, or how to eat them. I brought them home and turned to Google for answers.
It turns out, persimmons are popular in Asia and have been cultivated in China for centuries. The species was introduced to California in the 19th century as they thrive in climates with moderate winters and mild summers. Persimmons are in season from early October through December.
The fruit’s health benefits are stellar including: high vitamin-C, valuable B-complex vitamins, potassium, magnesium and dietary fiber. While there are many varieties, the Fuyu (photo above) is the most common and can be enjoyed either green or ripe. If you buy another variety, do your research. Some persimmons are astringent rather than sweet. Astringent persimmons must be ripe to be enjoyed.
The Fuyu is round and squatted, like a vine tomato. Similar to a tomato, a hard Fuyu indicates it is unripe, and ripe when soft to the touch. Though you want to avoid eating the skin of most persimmons, you may eat the skin of the Fuyu.
A ripened Fuyu is best enjoyed by slicing the fruit in half and scooping out the sweet flesh with a spoon. It may also be chopped and added to salads or made into jam. An unripened Fuyu may be cooked and pairs well with tomatoes.
Using a slightly unripened Fuyu persimmon, vine tomato, and kale, Chef made a simple side dish for dinner. We enjoyed it so much we wanted to share it with you.
The recipe is full of sweet flavour from the persimmon and tomato, spicy from the curry powder, rich in healthy nutrients, and includes the super hero of vegetables– kale.
1 slightly unripened Fuyu persimmon
1 vine tomato
1 small bunch of kale (6-8 stalks)
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp curry powder (add another 1/2 tsp if you enjoy more punch)
1/4 tsp cumin powder
Sea Salt and coarse ground Black Pepper, to taste
Wash and spin dry the kale in cool water. Rinse persimmon and tomato in cool water. Discard top (stem) of persimmon and tomato simply by pulling off or trimming with knife.
- Slice persimmon and tomato into bite size pieces.
- Dice garlic and shallots
- Peel and dice fresh ginger (about 1/4 tsp).
- Preheat large Teflon (nonstick) skillet on high heat.
- Pour 3 Tbsp of olive oil to the pan.
- Sauté garlic, shallots, and ginger on high heat until just tender. *Do not let pan get dry as seasoning will burn. Add extra tablespoon of oil if pan starts to go dry.
- Stir in curry and cumin powders
- Add persimmon and cook for 2 minutes on high heat, stirring occasionally. Again, if pan seems dry, add a bit more olive oil.
- Add tomatoes and kale . Cook for 1-2 minutes or until kale is gently wilted.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately. The sweet and spicy flavours compliment chicken, fish, lamb, and pork. For vegetarian, serve with preferred steamed grain.