Amor Towles’ 2016 novel “A Gentleman in Moscow” was a lockdown bestseller, the protagonist’s house arrest in a famed hotel resonating with readers stuck in their homes. What reverberates with me to this day, however, is the author’s detailed description of Latvian stew — traditional pork enriched with a unique addition: dried apricots.
It is a dish I have now made many times with various meats, ranging from the original pork to wild Hokkaido venison, plus various fruits. It was a matter of time before I landed on the hoshigaki (dried persimmon), an indelibly Japanese accent on the recipe.
The orange hue of carrots and persimmons are perfectly autumnal, and the hoshigaki (alongside some fresh persimmons) adds a light sweetness. Feel free to add more than two for an even jammier finish. As with any stew, it can be accompanied by whatever hearty base you like: crusty bread, a bowl of rice, or, my favorite, buttery potatoes mashed or boiled with plenty of fresh parsley.