The festive season is approaching, and we started to see Christmas girts and decorations everywhere.
We start early in Britain. Because we do not have Thanksgiving, after the Halloween, we go straight to getting ready for Christmas.
It is lovely to see all those Christmassy things.
Supermarkets’ products become more interesting, too, but what I like the most is not a hamper baskets or a large tin of chocolates.
It is chestnuts.
I really look forward to this season for chestnuts.
I like them cooked in any way. Traditionally in Japan, we boil chestnuts, cut in half and scoop the inside with a tea spoon. In old days, we did not have an oven in our households, let alone a fire place, so that boiling was the easiest cooking method.
We also cook “Kurigohan”.
Chestnuts are called kuri in Japanese.Japanese home cooking is all about cooking with what’s in season and this is one of my favorite. Kurigohan is steamed rice with chestnuts and is a popular Japanese autumn dish.
Ingredients; serves 4
400cc short-grain Sushi Rice
2tbsp Mirin sweet rice wine if you have
1 tsp Salt
10cm dried kombu sheet
Wash the rice and soak in water for 30 minutes, then drain.
Soak the chestnuts in boiling water for 15 minutes to make them easier to peel.
I have this fantastic tool; chestnuts shell peeler which my husband brought from Japan.
But I do not expect anyone to have this in Britain. You would be using a knife.
Make a cut in the bottom of each chestnut, then peel off the shell carefully.
Soak the chestnuts again in hot water. It is easier to peel when they are warm.
Then, you peel the inner skin. This time, I have to use a knife, too.
I wish I could say this is easy peasy, but I would be lying if I said so. It isn’t. It is a time consuming hard work, and I need to keep encouraging myself. End result is yummy, and I will get rewarded with smiles.
Good news is the hard work ends here.
Put the rice, water, sake, and salt in a heavy bottom pot and lightly mix all together. Then place chestnuts on top. I use a rice cooker. You can cook following manufacturer’s instruction.
Bring the rice to a boil over medium heat. Once water is boiling, turn the heat to low and cook covered for 12 to 13 minutes, or until the water is completely absorbed. If you see there is still water left, continue cooking for a little longer.
Remove from the heat, and leave for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with toasted sesami seeds if you wish, then serve.
Ever thought of cooking chestnuts in savory dishes like this? You can peel chestnuts and cook them with vegetables and meats, too.
I make this dish only once a year. My hands ache after peeling 20 chestnuts. But I know there is no Japanese restaurants in London serves Kuri-gohan (simply too much work!) and I want to please my family who loves it.