Culinary Pen
cooking, curing, salting,
smoking... and eating!

Hachiya Persimmons

Written By Culinary Pen on Sunday, January 30, 2011 | 5:50:00 AM

I love dried fruits for their intense flavor, chewy texture, and concentrated sweetness. Dried fruit doesn't have a huge demand here in the US, so most of the fruit is soaked in simple syrup and encrusted in a crystalline sugar tomb. It's more candy than fruit, and it makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it. Dried fruit is already sweet to begin with, so why push it to such saccharine saturation?

Then I heard the rumors of the Hachiya Persimmon. Imagine a dried fruit that was hand-peeled and air dried for weeks, while constantly being massaged to coax out the natural sugars and supple texture. Such spa-like treatment is usually reserved for Japanese cattle, not dried fruit. But sadly only one fruit grower in the US carries on the Asian tradition of producing these unique dried fruit - making them exceptionally rare and expensive.

Then, in a moment of serendipity, I found myself in Korea for my brother's wedding. In winter. Right before the Asian New Year. Hachiya Persimmon's were everywhere! They were in gift trays, hung in beautiful clusters like edible chandeliers, even on braided rope like a chain of dried garlic! The first time I saw a vendor with a cart full of these delectable edibles, I rushed through traffic to investigate. Not knowing any Korean, I used the international symbol of running my thumb across my fingertips to inquire the price. With a bit of help, I purchased my first tray of Hachiya Persimmons!

They were like anything I've had in the US. The skin was leathery but tender, like a dried apricot. But when you bit through the skin, the center was like a pouch of persimmon jam. Creamy, sugary, and goopy. Some tasted smokey, others were bright and fruity. Some vendors sold them plain, others dusted them in fructose powder to keep them from sticking to one another. The only interruption of gastronomic indulgence was hitting one of the 2-5 seeds in each persimmon. But even that was a minor drawback to these insanely decadent fruits.

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Anonymous said...

Excellent posts on your culinary journey in South Korea. One can almost taste the persimmon as we read the latest post. Keep up the great work.