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From figs to persimmons

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Yet another vegetable dish inspired by my newest acquisition, Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. There's more to come – a snack bread has already been lined up – and why not? The recipes in this book are enticing and not difficult to do, and I really like all the flavours from that part of the world.
I can't always get all the ingredients though, but that shouldn't be an obstacle. Take this dish. The original recipe calls for roasted sweet potato and fresh figs. The book authors say that this combination of cooked and raw ingredients is very popular at one of their restaurants. Well, fresh figs are difficult to find over here  although having said that, I did see some at the grocers last week (understandably, quite expensive) before I got this book – so I thought about a good substitute, and wanted to keep it local if possible.
Well, I went up and down the fruit aisle but couldn't find any local fruit that is similar to figs. And then I saw some persimmons (Korean, however) and thought why not?
As I mentioned earlier, the original recipe incorporates roasted sweet potato and fresh figs, as well as goat's cheese. I omitted the cheese, and used steamed sweet potatoes instead. They're just as good and I didn't want to turn on the oven. Well, good recipe writers inspire and Ottolenghi and Tamimi certainly do.
Substituting persimmons for fresh figs
Sweet Potato and Persimmon Salad
Serves 1-2

A handful of rocket or other salad leaves
2 medium sweet potatoes, skin on
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
3 thin stalks spring onion, sliced into 4cm lengths
1 long red chilli, sliced thinly
2 persimmons
2 tbsp sunflower oil
Flaky salt and black pepper

Arrange the salad leaves in a large plate.
Wash and dry the sweet potatoes and then steam them until tender. Cut into quarters lengthwise and then into 5cm lengths (like thick chips).
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan and stir-fry the sweet potato chips briefly to crisp their skin. Arrange over the salad leaves in the plate.
In the same pan, heat the other tablespoon of oil and flash fry the spring onion and chilli. Scatter the mixture together with the oil over the sweet potato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
In the same pan over low heat, place the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Simmer the mixture, swirling the pan around now and then, until reduced to about one tablespoon. Take off the heat while it is still runny as the reduction will continue to thicken.
Cut the persimmons into six wedges and tuck them around the sweet potato chips. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over all the plate (if too thick to drizzle, loosen with a drop of water).

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