Peeling chestnuts skin is quite a task. I tried many methods but each is still time consuming and I am not at all amazed. Julia Child must echo my feeling about peeling of chestnuts. She wrote in her book ‘ Mastering the art of French Cooking’ Pg.518 (my only cook book that has no pictures):
“Chestnuts have an outside shell and bitter inside skin, both of which must be removed before the chestnuts can be used. Peeling off the inside skin is a chore whatever method you adopt”.
I am proud to say I have adopted her method (once). Her proper English threw me off once or twice but I was saved by my dictionary. It was complicated but ‘Satisfactory’
,,,,,Set aside until later any recalcitrant chestnuts.
What is recalcitrant? Where is my living dictionary (my husband)?
As newly weds, we moved to our first apartment in Oregon from Utah. My husband spotted some huge chestnut trees by the entrance. It seemed that no one cared for these treasures, well, people were careful not to step on the prickly thorns. We were too excited to fuss peeling them. We just boiled them whole, cut them in half and scooped the insides out with a spoon to eat it. It was a good and lovely time.
Now deep in Autumn, I once again prepared chestnuts for the chestnut rice my husband and I love. Using a simpler method to remove skin which many Japanese are familiar with - I soaked chestnuts in warm water for 1 hour to soften the tough outer skin then using a sharp knife, I started peeling away the thin, clingy skin from each one by one. It took time and almost gave me carpel tunnel syndrome but to us chestnut rice is a symbol of fall and making it once a year is almost our family tradition.
Special equipment - rice cooker
- Chestnuts 400g or about 20 chestnuts Sold in Asian markets or well stocked supermarkets by the pound. I found them in Winco supermarket for better price.
- Sugar 2-3 Tablespoon
- Sweet rice (もち米）1 rice cooker measurement cup
- White rice 1 rice cooker measurement cup
- Rice wine (酒） 1 Tablespoon
- Mirin 1 Tablespoon-Seasoned cooking sake wine
- Light soy sauce 1 Tablespoon
- Salt 1 teaspoon
- Kelp Optional 1x3 sheet
- Soak chestnuts in warm water for 1 hour. Remove outer skin. Remove inner skin using sharp knife. Wash and pat dry with paper towel.
- Put all chestnuts in a Zip-Lock bag then add sugar and seal. Rub the chestnuts with sugar, coating well. Store in freezer for 3 hours.This steps make chestnuts bright yellow.
- Wash both sweet and white rice. Drain the water and put rice in sieve for 1 hour to rest.
- Take chestnuts out form freezer and rinse to remove sugar.
- Put rice in a rice cooker. Add rice wine, mirin, light soy sauce and salt. Pour cold water to line 2 of inner tub.
- Add chestnuts on top of rice. Lay the kelp on top if you like.
- Cook rice on regular rice setting.
- When rice is done, remove kelp then incorporate rice and chestnuts gently.The rice probably needs salt. This natural sea salt was a gift from my son’s friend in Ishigaki, Okinawa. (Oops! cloth is back ward)
After all the chestnuts fiasco, what should I do for the main dish? I search for freezer and found shishamo (smelt) my daughter’s favorite fish. Baked in toaster oven. With steamed broccolini and miso soup. The dinner scene was so so looking. You never know I spent the better part of an afternoon in the kitchen to peel 20 chestnuts. Julia Child’s Puree De Marrons (Chestnuts Puree) requires 8 cups of peeled chestnuts. Holy macaroons! Luckily, I know the the secret shortcut - Whole Foods! They have chestnut puree in a can!
My next blog I will be making chestnut-chocolate tart using store bought chestnuts. Yummy!
I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving! Dear friends brought this Thanksgiving gift. I ate a few and my son took care of the rest.