One of the main reasons we chose to live in this area was because we could feel four seasons like we could in Japan.
Japanese religion ,Shinto, is based on the nature such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility, and I believe the large part of our culture is based on this religion.
We cherish each season, celebrating the traditional and historical seasonal events even now, and the many of those events are associated with ,,,
I love summer, but I have to admit the autumn is already around the corner.
In Japan we often call the autumn as the season of the pleasure of the table, MIKAKU NO AKI.
The stars of the autumn flavor are chestnuts, matsutake (mushroom), sweet potatoes, persimmons, and Pacific saury!
Saury is spelled as 秋刀魚、which indicates fish caught in autumn and shaped like a sword.
Ohhh, now I miss autumn flavor saury, missing summer flavor already.
In September, we celebrate OTSUKIMI (viewing the beautiful full moon event in the middle of September), making TSUKIMI DANGO, sweet dumplings offered to the moon.
At the same time in this period, we start enjoy chestnuts.
It is still warm here and is early for OTSUKIMI, I cooked chicken thigh with chestnuts, celebrating the coming autumn.
I ‘ve used chestnuts in turkey stuffing before, but it was my first time I used them in a WESTERN (for me) dish other than turkey.
Why didn’t I use chestnuts for Western dishes?
BECAUSE chestnuts is always for KURI GOHAN for me!
KURI GOHAN (chestnuts rice) is the most popular and typical Japanese autumn flavor.
I believe every house makes KURI GOHAN at least once in autumn season.
This is not versatile rice which goes well with any dish, but it is very Japanese and goes very well with Japanese food.
Maybe you could enjoy KURI GOHAN with MISO SOUP, SHIRA AE, and grilled saury.
Today I will show you how to prepare the KURI GOHAN.
I was gladly surprised to know that we could get beautiful chestnuts here in VA, and when I got them, I was so excited to make KURI GOHAN.
Chestnuts have thick skins as you know, and in my case it took a WHOLE DAY to peel them!
ONE WHOLE DAY and I got rewarded with painful red fingers, but it’s worth it!
To soften the skins, we usually put them in the water overnight or if you don’t have time, you could boil them for 4-5 minutes.
I put them in the water overnight like,,,
Then the next day I did peeling.
First you need to peel the bottom part (thickest part) of them. You can sit on the chair if you want.
It takes long time…
My friend gave those beautiful chestnuts cultivated in her orchard, and she already cooked them a little, so the chestnut color was yellow.
She didn’t cooked through.
I used this half-way cooked chestnuts for KURI GOHAN.
Here are the ingredients you need to make KURI GOHAN.
- 3 cup of sticky rice ( such as Sushi Rice)
- water (10% more of the rice, so it would be about 27oz)
- chestnuts as many as you want ( I used approximately 1 cup of them)
- 2 (scant) teaspoons of salt
- 3 tablespoons of Sake
In Japan some people use MOCHI GOME (very sticky rice) along with regular white rice, but as you could see the photo above, I used regular white rice with some ancient grains.
For the instruction of the cooking rice, please check the previous post here.
Ohhhhh, smell so good!
I didn’t want my husband to make an effort of finding chestnuts hidden in the rice, so I generously used them.
After the steaming time, you could mix the rice gently and distribute chestnuts evenly.
If you couldn’t find raw chestnuts, you could use cooked chestnuts in the vacuum-seal package.
However they might get very soft during the cooking process, so even though you might get hurt, I recommend you use raw chestnuts.
You might ask why I am keep telling you “you get hurt” for just peeling one cup of chestnuts?
I did more than 1 cup.
I don’t know how many cups I peeled their skins! Probably,,,,,,
8? 10? 12 cups?
When my friend gave me those beautiful chestnuts for the first time, I was dancing with joy, so I did peel them all even though it hurt me, but a few days later the friend gave me more again !!
I couldn’t dance any more. She kindly gave me three or four times, and each time gave me TONS!
I didn’t want to waste them, so every time she gave me, I peeled and distributed to the freezer bags and froze them.
SO you think I am cooking autumn dish ahead of the season, but actually,,,NOT!
They are the last year’s product.
I heard they last 1 year in the fridge, so it is totally safe to use them (I believe).
I have to use them up before my friend gives me this year’s product!!
Now I had to confess.
Even though I love KURI GOHAN, I was a little tired of making it (all year round!!), so this time I used them for the WESTERN dish as I told you, and cooked them with chicken thigh.
I brined chicken with chestnuts and leeks with white wine, and added whole grain mustard at the end.
It was a success!
I borrowed the recipe from bon appetit, and chagned a little.
Thank you, chestnuts!
They did good job in this dish!
Now I have to think again what I could use them for.
I have several more chestnuts in the freezer bags in my fridge……
HURRY!! The autumn is coming!!!!