Air-Dried Beef & Fuyu Persimmons
The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco's Beloved Restaurant
Published by W. W. Norton
This is a pretty winter antipasto requiring almost no work. The subtle, candylike sweetness of the persimmons in combination with the rich, smoky-salty lean meat is beguiling. Choose Fuyus that are a deep, saturated orange and just beginning to give to the touch, like a slightly underripe peach. The best varieties have a squat profile and are clefted, presenting a quatrefoil-shaped slice. Don’t use torpedo-shaped Hachiya persimmons, which must be jelly-soft to be edible. If you see the unusual Chocolate Fuyu persimmons, snatch up a few. The gorgeous, marbleized flesh has faint cinnamon overtones and is worth the extra dimes. I don’t usually peel Fuyu persimmons, but you should taste a small sliver of the fruit and decide if you like the skin or not.
This antipasto is a proper place to lavish the best artisan-made, aged balsamic, but, lacking that, combine good-quality commercial balsamic with the oil to make a rich vinaigrette instead. We sometimes add a few sickle-shaped slices of raw fennel to this dish. A nice variation, simpler still, constists of prosciutto or smoked prosciutto with Fuyus and almonds. Ham doesn’t need the balsamic for sweetness, and is rich enough without the oil.
Wine: Buttonwood Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc, 1999
Total Timeunder 15 minutes
OccasionCooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe Courseantipasto/mezze, tapas/small plates
Dietary Considerationantipasto/mezze, tapas/small plates
Five Ingredients or LessYes
Taste and Texturechewy, fruity, juicy, meaty, salty, savory, tart, umami
- 1 medium or 2 small Fuyu persimmons (about 6 to 8 ounces total)
- 5 to 6 ounces thinly sliced air-dried beef (bresaola)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 tablespoons artisan-made balsamic vinegar
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed (about 6 ounces) (optional)
Use the tip of a paring knife to carve out the stem end of the persimmons. Carve out a sliver of meat and skin and taste. If you like the texture of the skin, leave as is; if not, peel the fruit. Cut the persimmon into very thin wedges, prying out seeds if there are any, or thinly slice with a mandoline.
Spread the meat and persimmons, somewhat overlapping, on plates or a platter. Drizzle with oil, then finish with balsamic. If using the fennel, sliver crosswise into thin sickles and scatter them over. Don’t feel you need to use the whole fennel bulb.
2002 Judy Rodgers