By: Chef Carlos Salgado
Taco Maria Costa Mesa, CA
A bitter-sweet appetizer salad with grilled persimmon and Mexican raw sugar dressing to balance the pleasing bitterness of chicory leaves. Persimmon slices add satisfying texture and earthy sweetness while crisp shallots add umami crunch.
Approximately 4 servings
For the vinaigrette (makes extra vinaigrette):
● 1 fuyu persimmon (approx 6 oz.) (fresh apricots or european pears would make nice substitutes, depending on the season)
● sunflower or neutral oil for grilling
● 3⁄4 cup (8 fl. oz.) sunflower or other neutral salad oil, such as pure olive oil)
● 1⁄4 cup (2 fl. oz.) mild, fruity olive oil (not too grassy or bitter)
● 1⁄2 cup (4 fl. oz.) malt or apple cider vinegar
● 1⁄4 cup (2 fl. oz.) Mexican piloncillo or another deep-flavored raw sugar such as muscovado or evaporated cane juice (sucanat)
● 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat a grill to high, or set a cast iron pain over medium-high flame. Peel the persimmon and cut it into quarters. If it contains seeds, remove them gently without crushing the flesh of the fruit. Grill it to char on all sides–about 2-3 minutes total. Do this quickly, so the fruit doesn’t steam and soften, which will keep it from charring. Remove to a heat-resistant bowl and allow to cool.
Place the vinegar and piloncillo sugar in a small saucepan with the vinegar. Warm gently over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Put the charred persimmon with it juices in the jar of a blender and pour over the sweetened vinegar. Puree until smooth. In a bowl, combine the persimmon/vinegar puree, oils, and salt. Allow to cool, and reserve cold until serving.
For the crisp shallots:
● About 6-8 medium shallots
● 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
● sunflower or neutral vegetable oil for frying
Peel the shallots to remove the thin and paper-like outer layers and discard them. Cut away the root end and slice the shallots into 1⁄8” rings. With your fingers, work the slices apart into individual rings. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the rings and set over paper towels for 20 minutes to capture any moisture released. Gently press with more paper towels on top to dry more thoroughly.
Prepare a basket strainer over a heat-proof bowl, large enough to hold the shallots. Place the shallots into a saucepan wide enough to hold them about 2-3 layers deep. Pour in enough oil to cover by at least 1⁄2”. Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat to medium and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the shallots just begin to color and smell like roasted onions.
Reduce the heat to low and watch the simmering and color change closely until finished–you want to cook until the shallots are milk-chocolate colored with just a few white spots remaining, taking care not to burn them and make them bitter. Just before they seem fully crisped, pour them into the prepared basket strainer to separate them from the oil. Transfer immediately to a pan or plate lined with multiple layers of paper towels. Allow to cool to room temperature, then reserve covered until serving.
For the chicories: ● 1 lb mixed baby chicories
Peel away any damaged or wilted outer leaves from the chicory bunches. Separate the nice inner leaves and rinse them in cold water. Drain, and rinse again before spinning in a salad dryer. Cut away the excess stems then cut or tear the leaves into complimentary fork-sized pieces. Reserve cold until serving.
To complete the salad:
● 4 ripe fuyu persimmons
● 1 tablespoon minced chives
● fresh cracked black pepper
● course finishing salt, such as Maldon
Peel the persimmons, quarter them, and remove the seeds if necessary. Cut the quarters into complimentary bite-sized slices. Place the chicories and persimmon slices in a mixing bowl and dress with the vinaigrette, to your liking. Mix, taste, and finish seasoning the salad with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, as you see fit. Mix in half the chives.
Set the dressed salad into a serving bowl, or into individual salad bowls. Garnish with the crisp shallots, additional chives, and coarse salt or black pepper, as you wish. Buen provecho!