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Winter Salad

Winter salad

This is my favorite season for salad. I love the sturdy, bitter greens of winter, and am eager to consume as many persimmons and pomegranates before their time ends, all too soon.

This salad was inspired by Food Blogga’s riotously colored salad of dandelion greens, persimmons and medjool dates, but of course we couldn’t let well enough alone. We definitely wanted persimmon arils in there, for their tart-sweet bursts of zing. Fresh fuyu persimmon and toasted pecans added sweetness and crunch. We also wanted to offset the dandelion greens with another green that would temper the bitterness and add some lift; the dandelion greens are so flat, they are sometimes difficult to get on the fork. Some lovely chioggia chickory did just the trick, the flecks of red mirroring the red dandelion stems and bright pomegranate pips.


But the biggest diversion was by replacing dates with hoshigaki. To the uninitiated, as I was just a year ago, hoshigaki are hachiya persimmons that have been peeled, then hung to dry. (In Japanese, hoshi=dried and kaki=persimmon; when words that begin with a “k” sound are merged with words that end with a vowel sound, the “k” converts to a hard “g.”) During the drying process, they are gently massaged. During this process, sugars bloom to the surface, resulting in a fine, powdery coating. This lengthy and meticulous process has earned them the nickname of the Kobe beef of persimmons.

Hoshigaki are enjoyed as a tea sweet in Japan. Despite the concentration due to evaporation and the blooming of the sugars, they are actually fairly subtly sweet, with a flavor and texture that I find reminiscent of sweet potato. They’re certainly a rare delicacy stateside, but if you’re lucky you can buy yourself some right now from We Love Jam. While you’re there, pick up some of their BBQ sauce. It’s awesome.

Tossed with a simple vinaigrette, this salad was the perfect tonic to the richness of the boar and risotto. It was alternately sweet, bitter, tart and earthy, but all in balance. It lifted and refreshed the palate. This is why we often have salad after the entrée, in the Italian style. After all, you need to rekindle the appetite to make room for dessert.


Susan’s salad of dandelion greens, persimmons and medjool dates was our root inspiration.

Elise’s persimmon pomegranate fruit salad is right up my alley.

Slow Food USA offers up more sources for hoshigaki.

This Post Has 15 Comments
  1. What a strange little thing. Looks a bit like a Salami.
    Great post – it’s always nice to find something so completely new.

  2. Spidra: I never said they were cheap. A precious commodity indeed.
    Graeme: You’re right! Only white with sugar instead of mold. Both delicious in their own rights.
    Susan: We wouldn’t have come to this without you!

  3. I’ve always wanted to try hoshigaki. You figure anything that gets massaged so meticulously must be incredible, right? Thanks for the tip on where they are available. I look forward to buying some of my own.

  4. Carolyn and Chez US: I strongly recommend trying them, if only for the opportunity to savor something so precious.
    Amy: That’s cheap. They’re $18 for a half pound through We Love Jam, and I think that yields 5-6 fruit.

  5. The salad looks beautiful, and I love discovering new ingredients. Will have to look for hoshigaki when I’m in New York next month; have not seen it in markets here in RI. Hope you’ve had a wonderful holiday.

  6. Oh, wow. I love learning about new foods and as my New Year’s resolution is to buy more new foods and delicacies I love (I am using reverse psychology on this recession thing…) I’m heading over to get me some. Thanks, guys, and happy new year!

  7. Hi Sean,
    Your salad looks wonderful. I did a similar salad on Thanksgiving, and again at the xmas holiday (which we celebrated with dinner last night, actually – long story).
    Mine was a little lighter to save room for the turkey feast and the 2-inch thick holiday prime rib. Just frisee and some mixed baby greens sprinkled with toasted pignolias and pomegranite seeds, and drizzled with a fresh raspberry and pomegranite balsamic vinaigrette.
    But, your salad takes me deeper into winter mode. Now, I’m dreaming of butternut squash and brown butter starters and creamy pastas to follow.
    Thank you, Sean! I just love your blog, your writing, your Italian bloodlines and the flavors they bring, and the fact that you sometimes have almost the same ideas as I do. 🙂
    Kindred spirit, perhaps?
    Cheers, and happy new year to you and DPaul!!!
    ~ Paula

  8. Lydia: I suppose it helps to be near a place with a large Japanese emigrant population. Good luck sourcing it in NY!
    Robin: This is definitely a new flavor worth seeking out!
    Paula: Indeed! And speaking of wintery squashy goodness, last night I made Kadu, an Afghan dish of sweetly curried pumpkin. Very recommendable!

  9. Sean,
    Wow… You made Kadu, too! It’s one of my faves! I just had some with dinner tonight, and also made a version of it on Thanksgiving, but with Mascarpone instead of the strained pumpkin, and sprinkled with pecan pralines.
    There you go… Great minds! 🙂
    ~ Paula

  10. What a beautiful salad — and thanks for the info on hoshigaki. I’d never heard of it before, and I, too, am someone who enjoys trying new ingredients — especially in salads.

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