CERTAIN FLAVORS, sights, and sensations unmistakably mark the arrival of autumn for all of us: a nip on the edge of the air, the incline of the sun’s evening angles, a thick-skinned winter squash at the market. For Kevin Gibson, chef at the SE Hawthorne Boulevard restaurant Evoe, it’s the appearance of sweet, fragrant, bright-orange persimmons.
Both main varieties of persimmon can be found overflowing from our Pacific Northwest backyards. The heart-shaped hachiyas start out with a puckering dose of astringency and are ready to eat only when they soften to a delicious, aromatic, nearly pre-compost mush. The fuyus, in contrast, can be eaten while they still have some firmness, like a cross between a plum and an apple.
Gibson puts both to elegant use at Evoe, a casual eatery that highlights his simple, European-influenced approach to seasonal cooking. He uses hachiyas to make moist, nearly pudding-like cakes, and even sneaks dried persimmons into lamb-based meatballs. When he gets a fuyu, however, he barely does anything at all. “Just make sure that they’re ripe,” he laughs. “I like the color, the shine, the taste—everything.”
In one of his favorite preparations, Gibson pairs peeled and quartered fuyus with a spice-dusted duck breast. “There’s a slight spice back note to the persimmon, so the spice rub matches,” he says. “And they’re tart enough that they cut through the richness of the duck.” It’s an ideal meal for a dinner party, uncomplicated, impressive—and best of all, you can relax with your guests while the duck rests, taking the time to celebrate the changing of the season.