Monday, November 26, 2012


So it's now nearly December and I have yet to do a post on what has quickly become one of my favourite features of fall in Korea (see what I did there?) - Persimmons!

A 단감 (dan gam) or fuyu persimmon - washed and awaiting my consumption.

I have to be honest, before coming to Korea, I had little - if any - notion of what, exactly, a persimmon was. I think I knew that it was some kind of fruit, and I recall having some vague idea that people ate them dried, but I could not have told you where they were from, what they looked like or how they tasted (nor when they were ripe or why people ate them if it came to that).

One of the persimmon treas at Baegyangsa in Naejangsan National Park.

I am happy to say that all of this has now been rectified. I now know that persimmons - or 'Gam' () with a hard 'k'-like 'g' as they are known here - are an amazingly delicious and wonderfully fantastic fruit that no one should ever have to live without. I love them. I want to eat them all the time.  Not enough of an explanation for you? I suppose I could try to go in for a little more detail ;).

More persimmons, all for me! Their exteriors are waxy cuticles that are reminiscent of the skin off an apple - though slightly tougher - and just as edible. Many Koreans will peel and slice their persimmons. This requires more patience than I care to exhibit.

Before I go any further, I suppose I should mention that there are actually two types of persimmon available in Korea. Hachiya persimmons (떫은감 - tteolbeun gam or 'sour persimmon') are deep orange, sweet, soft and pulpy when ripe, but very bitter before that. By contrast, fuyu persimmons (단감 - dan gam or 'sweet persimmon') are lighter orange in colour and have a crisp melon-like texture, they are also (rather entertainingly because of their name) less sweet. Having not yet tried the hyachiya persimmons, it is the fuyu persimmons that have so captured my heart (and tongue). As far as I'm concerned, they taste exactly like Christmas - or, rather, how I imagine Christmas would taste were it made into an edible flavour. It's like having melon, pumpkin and cinnamon-y pie spice all mixed into a deliciously delectable fruity bundle. I was initially hesitant to give them a try as I am what is often referred to as a 'texture person', being rather picky with my food in that department, but I am so glad I did! When just ripe, fuyu persimmons have an apple-like texture. From there, they migrate toward melon-like as they get less crisp. Interestingly, just like tomatoes (which they actually resemble quite closely), persimmons are technically berries. Sadly they are only available for a very limited period of time, appearing at local markets in early fall and disappearing again around this time (early December). Happily, when they are around, they're around in an abundance - and I plan to eat my fill!

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