Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Persimmons – The Mango of Autumn

The origins of persimmons go back to ancient China. It is now very popular in Japan, parts of South East Asia, Israel, USA and also Australia. I noticed persimmons were on sale at the fruit market early last month, but was too distracted by mandarins, which were also in season. Yesterday, I finally bought some persimmons because this month will probably be my last chance since the season for persimmons is coming to an end in Australia.

Apparently, there are hundreds of different species worldwide, but the most commonly found varieties are the Fuyu a type originating in Asia, the Hachiya from the U.S., and the Sharon fruit developed in Israel. The Fuyu is a non-astringent variety that looks like a squashed tomato, is smaller, sweeter, and can be eaten when firm. The Hachiya is an astringent variety which is acorn-shaped and has to be very soft and ripe before eating (other wise it will be very tart & bitter). My favourite variety is the Sharon fruit because it combines the best attributes of the Fuyu and Hachiya. It is widely available in Singapore, but I haven’t seen it in Sydney. I tend to buy the Fuyu varieties here because they can be eaten like apples. In fact, persimmons have more fiber, minerals, polyphenols (antioxidants) and vitamin A than apples. So, the person who coined the saying about an apple a day keeping the doctor away probably never had a persimmon.

I’ve had raw and dried persimmons but I’ve never cooked with persimmons before. As Mothers’ Day approaches, I thought I should get more creative because I wanted to dedicate this entry to my mother who loves this fruit very much. She was also the one who got me hooked on it. The firmer Fuyu type is great with salads, cheeses and baked as a tart, while the mushy, ripe Hachiya type is great blended into a pulp and used for smoothes, in cake/muffin batters and as a pie filling. I decided to make a simple pyllo pastry tart because I did not want the persimmon flavour to be masked by too many overpowering ingredients.

Mom, this is for you!

Persimmon Tart

(Serves 2)

1 Fuyu persimmon

4 sheets of pyllo pastry, at room temperature

Cinnamon sugar (or mix 1 tbsp of cinnamon with 2 tbsp of sugar)

A dash of lemon juice

About 1 tbsp salt-reduced butter, melted (use more if you prefer a richer, buttery pastry)

1 tsp of caster sugar


Pre-heat oven at 160 degrees C (fan forced)


Slice the persimmons finely. Toss it in some cinnamon sugar and a dash of lemon juice. Set aside.


Slice usinga sharp knife or cut each pyllo sheet to make four panels. Place all of the pyllo one sheet on top of the other and butter each layer sparingly. Sprinkle some cinnamon sugar on top of every fourth layer. Brush the top most layer with butter.


Arrange the persimmon slices in an overlapping manner. Brush with the persimmon with the remaining butter and sprinkle caster sugar over the whole tart.


Bake for 20 minutes or till the pyllo pastry has turned golden brown.


Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla bean ice-cream or custard.


- If you want to caramelise the persimmons, bake for 15 minutes and turn the tart (persimmons facing down) and cook for another 5 minutes. Or after taking the tart out of the oven, sprinkle more caster sugar on the persimmon and caramelise it lightly with a blowtorch.

- The original recipe used puff pastry.


Food Blogging Event:

Thanks to Janet's recent post, I was remined of the upcoming deadline for a food blogging event. Since I've never cooked with persimmons before, I've decided to submit this for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge # 16 - Something New. My inspiration to cook with persimmons was promted by Steve Manfredi's article (Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Living, April 2007). There are very few recipes using persimmons and the one I've adapted comes from pastry chef Jess Ong’s (The Summit Restaurant, Sydney) spiced persimmon tart recipe.



Eva said...

That tart looks awesome!! I love the colour contrast with the blue plate!
I've also taken a pic of a persimmon last month but never posted about it - maybe I will do it now... However, there is still so much on my to-blog-about-list...

Em said...

Wow! It looks great! I did not know what the fruit was... and I have never tried it either! I love the look of the filo base (miam) and the beautiful sliced fruit... You are making me hungry as usual! Too bad I already went to the grocery store - I think I would have tried to reproduce your creation otherwise! Keep inventing, chef ;)

Janet said...

Hey Nora, that looks tasty and your photos are exceptional. I've never tried a persimmon before, so now I really want to see what they're like. I have no idea whether I can get them in Canada at this time of year, but I'm going to keep my eyes peeled for them.

Nora B. said...

Eva - Thanks! That blue plate is my only non-white coloured plate. So, you'll see it a lot on my blog. :-) I just had a look at your persimmon photo on Flickr - it is PERFECT! So, you definitely should post it on your blog. Most people are bgging about spring so we should blog about autumn produce!

Em - Glad that I can still show you new things ;-) Actually, Quikong has also never heard or tasted it before & he enjoyed the tart very much. He wasn't so impressed with eating it raw though. I got the persimmons from Harry's Market. If you are feeling adventurous, get one of each type so that you can contrast both flavours (but make sure that the Hachiya is very ripe). It's hard to describe the flavour (& texture), it's kind of subtle, so do try some before it's gone.

Janet - Thanks for your kind words. I am trying to learn more about photography. As for persimmons, you'll probably have to wait till the northern hemisphere autumn. If you have a Chinese grocer near where you live, you could check if they have any dried persimmons (which is mostly imported from China & used in sweet, soupy desserts).

Tea said...

I love persimmons and this looks so beautiful! I almost never get around to baking with them--I end up eating them raw instead (fuyu, mainly). Perhaps this fall I will be able to restrain myself:-)

Nora B. said...

Hi Tea, thanks for dropping by despite being busy with your move to Seattle. No need to restrain yourself, just buy more persimmons when fall comes around. ;-)

Em said...

Today, 10 May, it is Nora's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! May this year be filled with culinary successes and great food pictures!
Lots of love, Em xx

Rose said...

I have never try them before nor bake with theme. Now I am intrigued by this fruit.And you said it's better than an apple?? Your tart sure looks great. I am sure your mommy must be a very lucky woman to have a daughter like you.

Freya and Paul said...

What a stunning tart! I recently bought some persimmon but wasn't sure what to do with them - I'm now inspired!

Nora B. said...

Rose - Thank you. I'm the lucky one who has a wonderful mommy.

Freya & Paul - Thanks! There are so few recipes using persimmons, maybe you both can create something new with them.

Helen said...

I had my first persimon when i moved to the US 10 years ago. I wish they were not so darn expensive here (paasion fruits are worse). Great recipe!

Nora B. said...

Hi Em, thanks for your birthday wishes, for all the lovely presents & celebrating my birthday with me. I will post something about that soon. xx

Thanks, Helen. On the note of fruit prices, did you know that a kilo of bananas cost up to $17 when the cyclone hit Australia early last year? I had serious banana withdrawal for several months.