Not that kind…
For the Korean New Year, I made this old fashioned drink made with dried persimmon and cinnamon that is particular to the Korean tastebud. When dried, the persimmon is called 곶감 and looks nothing at all like its fresh version.
But before they are dried up to a shrivel, they are beguilingly beautiful. I like to call them the Mona Lisa of fruit. The persimmon perplexes the west, but is beloved by the east. Along with peaches and crab apples, persimmons were popular during the Chinese Tang Dynasty, 618-907.
Koreans in Korea will pay a premium for persimmons grown in the motherland versus imports from China, but I don’t have that option. Even the persimmons sold in that Korean supermarket in Manhattan’s K-town comes from the P.R.O.C. Which is my dilemma with the ‘Korean’ red peppers sold here. Why do they call peppers imported from China ‘Korean’? Hmmm. I just buy guajillo and chile de arbol peppers from my local supermarket.
I’m glad I tried my hand at making this traditional punch for the Korean New Year (Seollal). The more Korean recipes I encounter and cook, the more perspective I gain on what it means for me to be Korean.
But mostly, I made this punch for my Old Ladies, in hopes that they would be brought back to a time when they were still an unbroken family, gathering with their loved ones to celebrate Seollal with food and drink prepared with all the love and joy good memories can muster.
새해 복 많이 받으세요
Persimmon punch (수정과)
12 dried persimmons
1/2 cup peeled and sliced ginger
5 cinnamon sticks
1 cup sugar
10-12 cups of water
pine nuts (for garnish)
1. Boil cinnamon sticks and ginger in 10-12 cups of water for 25 minutes. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Remove stems from persimmon.
3. Remove from heat and fish out the ginger and cinnamon sticks. Stir in the sugar.
4. Pour the liquid into a large glass jar with a lid, add persimmons, cover and let sit in the fridge for 12 hours.
5. Serve punch with a persimmon and a sprinkle of pine nuts in a shallow bowl. Or you can serve just the liquid and serve the persimmon separately.
Persimmon punch w/ a punch
Our friend Gary brought over a bottle of fine vodka which inspired the Boyfriend to come up with this snazzy creation:
Pour 1/2-2/3 cup persimmon punch in a glass. Add a shot of vodka (he used Tito’s) and finish with about 2 ounces of seltzer or club soda. Of course you can do this over ice if you so desire. I might add a wedge of lime, too.