This is the first in a series of posts titled “I’ve just started eating persimmons and am going to use them in most of the things I cook”. Snappy, huh?
If you Google ‘persimmon’, or know a little about the fruit already, you will be aware that there are broadly two types of persimmon: fuyu and hachiya. The fuyu is flat bottomed and squat, the hachiya more like a large plum tomato or elongated peach.
We’re told, on t’internet, that the hachiya ABSOLUTELY CANNOT be eaten when firm – the flesh is stoked with tannins, astringent and unpleasant. Instead, you cook it, or wait until it’s super ripe (or stick it in the freezer) and eat the soft pulp with a spoon. On the other hand, Fuyu (also known as a Sharon fruit) can be eaten pretty much whenever. It’s a bit like an apple with a delicate, ever so slightly tropical flavour.
Thing is, I’ve been buying what I thought was a hachiya persimmon (above left) and eating it like a fuyu. Naughty me. There’s been no astringency and on taste tests I’ve preferred it raw to the fuyu.
Then I called it a persimmon in front of my grocer, who castigated me and told me, in no uncertain terms, that it absolutely categorically totally definitely and definitively was not a persimmon. It’s a Spanish kaki fruit.
On getting home and reaching out to My Lord Google, I found that, actually, a Spanish kaki fruit is a persimmon. So that’s me confused.
Most websites seem to cite the binary fuyu / hachiya split. But I have a feeling they’re largely copying each other and that there may well be a third branch that’s increasingly common in UK: the Spanish ‘kaki’ persimmon. Whilst this looks like a hachiya, it is, as I have found, perfectly pleasant to eat when firm (and in fact has thinner skin than the fuyu, so I think preferable). I’m gonna say Riverford back me up on this. This doesn’t look like a squat fuyu, does it?
Which leads me, in an extremely roundabout way, to the first of my suggestions as to how you might try bringing persimmon into your life: alongside lovely, sweet slices of clementine and tart bursts of pomegranate. The persimmon is a mellow foil to the two other fruits and I love it’s texture – somewhere between an apple and a mango. On their own the three fruits and a squeeze of lime would make a perfectly decent fruit salad. But I prefer to balance them with salty goat cheese, savoury nigella seeds and pine nuts, peppery watercress and a few bits of flat leaf parsley for the win.
Works on its own as a light lunch, or alternatively as part of an Ottolenghi style banquet.
If you want to play safe, use a firmish, squat fuyu. But feel free to give my Spanish ‘kaki’ persimmon theory or go if you’re feeling a bit out there. No doubt you’ll let me know if the kaki thing is kaka.
Persimmon, clementine and goat cheese salad
(serves 2 as a self standing dish, 4-6 as a side)
- 75g watercress
- 20g flat leaf parsley
- 1 fuyu or Spanish persimmon
- 2 clementines
- 80g hard rind goat cheese
- 10g pine nuts
- 2g nigella seeds
- 20g pomegranate seeds
- 15g olive oil
- 1 tsp warm water
- Salt and black pepper
Pick the parsley from its stalks but leave as large leaves. Mix with the watercress and then use this as a base for the salad.
Slice one of the clementines in half (before peeling) and squeeze the juice into a bowl or old jam jar. Add the olive oil, water, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Whisk to emulsify into a dressing.
Peel the remaining clementines and cut into about 4mm slices across the width of the fruit. Slice the persimmon slightly thicker and each of those slices into four. Place this fruit over the watercress and parsley bed. Crumble the goat cheese on top and scatter the pine nuts, nigella seeds and pomegranate over your dish from a height. Finally, spoon over plenty of dressing.