H Mart’s seafood department is exceptional. I couldn’t pass up the beautiful striped bass sashimi and if I had more time, I would have waited for the yellowfin tuna that was about to be filleted.
Their produce department is fabulous too, showcasing the best of California fields plus esoteric fruits and vegetables found only in Asian markets. Not sure how the fuyu persimmons would be used, but several ended up in my basket just the same.
Inspiration for this vibrant ceviche comes from both my garden and my new favorite Korean supermarket. In the yard is a tree full of Persian limes while wrinkled passion fruits harvested days earlier are sitting on the counter.
The super-fresh striped bass will become ceviche, with a quick 10 minute lime marinade to preserve its pristine qualities. Paired with sweet-tart passion fruit and honeyed persimmon…a refreshing, clean, snappy recipe takes shape…
Pan-Seared Branzino (Mediterranean Sea Bass) Fuyu Persimmon “Pico de Gallo”
The fuyu’s shape and size, plus its firm but supple texture is somewhat reminiscent of a tomato…which gave me the idea to try it as a substitute for that unseasonal fruit in a wintery version of pico de gallo. The Korean market where I often shop has huge displays of both fuyu and hachiya varieties of the persimmon, in season October through February. This salsa fresca is savory but has a hint of honey-apple sweetness. It has bracing acidity from the fresh lime juice and medium spiciness from the jalapeno. In addition to making a bright refreshing topping for this sea bass we thoroughly enjoyed it paired with a crispy-skin salmon too.
Inspiration from two separate dining experiences sparked the idea for creation of this delightful salad. First, an outstanding meal at Jun Won in LA, a gem of a restaurant that features regional Korean cooking from the province of Chungcheongnam-do. I was captivated by their salad of chrysanthemum greens (sukgat) with chestnut jelly. A week later we attended an event highlighting the “Tastes of the Korean Forest” including sanchae (wild vegetables grown in the mountains), oak mushroom, chestnut, and persimmon.
Persimmon is a most understood fruit. Those who “hate” persimmon probably do so as a result of a confusion between fuyu and hachiya varieties.
If you attempted to eat an unripe hachiya, that is certainly the cause of your disgust. An unripe hiachya is super-tannic and can taste like chalk or bark. Or worse. Its astringency makes it totally unpalatable. A fully ripe hachiya, however, has the consistency of jelly and is sweet and rich. And a ripe fuyu has a firm texture and tastes like a honey-flavored apple. Now, who “hates” that?
Persimmon has the pizzazzy color and flavor of autumn and makes a great fruit for a tarte tatin. Be sure to use fuyu persimmons and save the RIPE hachiya for something else.