For the Japanese, chestnuts are a flavorful fall treat, heralding the arrival of the new season. The Japanese chestnut rice (Kuri Gohan) is a dish that is common in autumn. You can taste the rich fragrance of the chestnuts and enjoy the warm feeling of this simple yet rich and hearty dish.
Ingredients (4 servings)
- Japanese short-grain rice: 2 cups (360 ml)
- Raw chestnuts: 10-12 pieces
- Mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine): 1 tablespoon
- Salt: 1/2 teaspoon
- Roasted black sesame seeds (optional): to taste
Rinse the chestnuts quickly and soak them in lukewarm water for about 30 minutes. Cut off the lower part a little and peel the hard outer skin. Remove the soft, inner skin, which is bitter (called shibukawa). If the skin is sticking, you can use a paring knife to help remove it or drop it back in the water for a minute or two to soften the skin a bit more.
Rinse the rice 3-4 times until the water runs clear. If you have a rice cooker, drain and place in your rice cooker (see below for using a pot instaed). Let the rice soak in the water for at least 30 minutes to an hour.
Add the mirin and salt, then add water to the corresponding water level for your rice cooker. Place the cleaned chestnuts on top of the rice. It's ok if they are sticking out of the water.
When rice completes cooking, open the lid and fluff the rice.
Scoop your chestnut-studded rice into individual serving bowls, sprinkle with roasted black sesame seeds, and serve.
If you do not have a rice cooker
If you are cooking rice in a pot, rinse the rice as described above, add the water and let the rice soak in the water for at least 30 minutes. Add the mirin, salt, and chestnuts.
Cover the pot and bring to a boil on high heat. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the water is almost gone.
Turn the heat off and wait for about 15 minutes before opening the lid. Fluff and serve as in above.