The air is cooler, the days are shorter, and seeing chestnuts on the grocery store shelves are hints that brought to my memory of cosy evening dinners with Kuri Gohan (chestnuts rice). Chestnuts give a nutty flavour to plain rice and I have an easy way to prepare chestnuts that I must share!
No more broken nails
Chestnuts are my favourite nuts and I reckon they are the most delicious nuts. But it is very hard to prepare chestnuts without breaking your nails. Food presentation is somewhat important to me so I try hard to keep the beautiful chestnuts shape intact when it is cooked, and often, almost every time I break my nails. But no more! I figured out how to cook chestnuts without damaging my nails.
3 points to look for when you buy chestnuts
- Pick ones that are hard and glossy on the surface and round.
- Avoid the ones that have got little holes or scratches – these may be eaten by insects.
- Choose chestnuts that feel heavy when you hold them in your hand.
The easy Japanese way to remove the hard outer shell
When you buy chestnuts, it’s already been some time since they are harvested. So it is better to cook them straight away. Remove the outer shell by using scissors (be careful not to injure yourself). If you have time, soak them in a bowl of water overnight, but if you don’t have time, place chestnuts in a pot and pour enough water to just cover the chestnuts. Bring the water to boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes over low heat. Remove the astringent skin one by one.
Cook chestnuts into daily home cooking the Japanese way
I just love chestnuts so I can eat boiled chestnuts as it is for a snack. In Japan, chestnuts are often used to make sweets such as Montblanc cake, Shibukawani (simmered with astringent skin intact), and Kuri Kinton. It is also often cooked with rice known as Kuri Gohan and Kuri Okowa (or Sekihan).
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Cook chestnuts easily in a Japanese way to make Kuri gohan(Chestnuts Rice)!
- 500 g chestnuts
- 1 3/4 cups short grain rice
- 1/4 cup glutinous wheat or sweet rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tsp black sesame seeds
Prepare chestnuts by using kitchen scissors to remove the outer hard skin. Leave the astringent skin intact.
Place them in a saucepan or pot and pour enough water to cover the chestnuts.
Start to heat the pot over high heat to bring it to boil.
Once it has boiled, turn the heat down to low / medium and simmer to cook the chestnuts for about 20 minutes.
Drain the hot water and add cold water so that you can handle the chestnuts but the chestnuts will not get dry.
Carefully remove the astringent skin with hands and set aside all.
Wash the rice and glutinous wheat until the washing water becomes clearer (about 3-4 times). Drain the water completely.
Place the washed rice and the glutinous wheat into a rice cooker.
Pour 2 cups of water and add salt and sake.
Place the chestnuts over the rice.
Close the rice cooker lid and set the rice cooker, following the rice cooker instructions.
When it is cooked, stir gently. Try not to break the chestnuts shape.
Serve in a rice bowl and sprinkle black sesame seeds.
I used glutinous wheat, it can be replaced with sweet rice. If you are not able to access either of these, then cook with rice only.
The reason I add glutinous wheat is for its mochi like texture.
Cooking time will differ depending on rice cooker.