At Beast & Bottle last week, I ordered the persimmon caprese. This lovely salad, which alternated slices of the winter fruit with fresh mozzarella, did everything right: It highlighted the ingredient’s delicate, aromatic flesh while coaxing out its sweetness with a drizzle of honey.
I grew up with persimmons. Every holiday season, my mom would render the astringent orbs into steamed pudding. Now, when I see Fuyus (pictured) or Hachiyas advertised on a menu, the ingredient tugs at my heartstrings. Inevitably I do two things: 1. I order the dish and 2. I run to the grocery story to stock up.
In addition to Beast & Bottle, I've seen the fruit show up at a handful of restaurants: On Session Kitchen's opening menu, chef Scott Parker ran a (now gone) persimmon–hot pepper slaw. At TAG Restaurant, chef-owner Troy Guard pairs a Szechuan-style duck breast with lemongrass gnocchi, roasted sunchokes, and a Brussels sprout-persimmon salad. Bones' chef John Depierro serves persimmon jam atop roasted bone marrow with escargot and watercress gremolata.
As for the fruit I pick up at the market, I turn to magazines and cookbooks for inspiration. This year that means Bon Appétit’s recipe for persimmons with Greek yogurt and pistachios, and Sunset's fall greens persimmon salad.
The fruit also graces the cover of the A.O.C. Cookbook, renowned Los Angeles chef Suzanne Goin's new release. Inside there are recipes for smoked black cod with endive, lemon cream, and persimmons; as well as persimmon cake with crème fraîche and maple pecans. Clearly, the ingredient is versatile and one worth getting to know. Whether tossed fresh in a dish, baked into a dessert, or simply arranged as a centerpiece, persimmons signal the bounty of the winter season.
Bonus: Watch Suzanne Goin plate grilled orata with cauliflower, fregola, and persimmon-pomegranate salsa here.
—Image via Shutterstock