LATINO VOICES
12/30/2013 04:40 pm ET

Latino Recipes For The Holidays: Persimmon Salsa with Chicken Breast

Stephen Chavez and Art Rodriguez

In Los Angeles, "fall" isn't a season of frost and changing leaves that you get on the east coast. Each year, fall in southern California begins with the appearance of my beloved fuyu persimmons. From persimmon bread to even flan made with persimmon, working with persimmons is easy, fragrant and delicious.

Like the tomato, persimmons are not popularly considered to be berries, but the fruit is in fact from the berry familia. This year I decided to create a more savory dish with the persimmon berry. First, I thought about doing a chutney, but wanted more heat so instead went with a salsa. We make mango salsa and even strawberry salsa, why not a persimmon salsa? Spoon this sweet and spicy salsa on top of a grilled chicken breast or piece of white fish, and you’ll be singing praises for the orange ball of sweetness, persimmon.

Before you make your persimmon salsa, you need to make sure you pick the right fruit to work with. There are two different ones to pick and knowing the difference is so important otherwise it will taste like fur on your tongue. There are either astringent or non-astringent persimmons. The heart-shaped Hachiya is the most common variety of astringent persimmon. Astringent persimmons contain very high levels of soluble tannins and are unpalatably astringent (or "furry" tasting) if eaten before completely softened. However, the sweet, delicate flavor of fully ripened persimmons of varieties that are astringent when unripe is particularly relished. The astringency of tannins is removed in various ways.

The non-astringent fruit is squat like a tomato and is most commonly sold as fuyu. These are the ones you want for this salsa recipe. Non-astringent persimmons are not actually free of tannins as the term suggests, but rather are far less astringent before ripening, and lose more of their tannic quality sooner. Non-astringent persimmons may be consumed when still very firm, and remain edible when very soft. They’re crisp like cinnamon apples and rich in flavor.

Persimmon Salsa with Breast of Chicken

Yields: 3 cups
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 0

Ingredients:

  • 4 Persimmons, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 serano chile peppers, minced
  • ¼ cup mint, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients in a medium size bowl, cover and refrigerate. Prepare your chicken breast and spoon over the Persimmon Salsa.

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