Kurigohan: Savory Rice with Chestnuts
Japanese home cooking is seasonal cooking. Many of the dishes you’ll see in the blog now that the year is drawing to a close are things I wouldn’t think to make in spring or summer. Kurigohan is a case in point: a flavored rice dish that takes advantage of the bountiful chestnut harvest we get around this time of year, this is definitely my favorite way to eat chestnuts. It’s also a highly prized dish often served to honored guests.
It’s pretty easy to make kurigohan, but you do need to plan a little bit ahead: like all rice dishes, the rice needs to soak for a while before cooking. And to make the chestnuts keep a nice, vivid color, I recommend a little kitchen trick that, while not at all hard, does involve you starting to cook at least four hours ahead of serving time.
Ingredients (for nine)
- Chestnuts – 600 g.
- Rice – 3 cups
- Water – 3.5 cups
- Sake – 2 tablespoons
- Mirin – 1.5 tablespoons
- Soy sauce – 1.5 tablespoons
- Salt – 1 teaspoon
- Konbu – one section
- Black sesame seed (optional)
- Place raw chestnuts in water and bring to a boil.
- Turn heat off when it reaches a boil, leave the chestnuts in the hot water for half an hour, to soften the shell.
- With a knife, crack open the chestnuts and discard the shells.
- Sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar on the chestnuts, place them in a ziplock bag, and seal the bag and massage the sugar into the chestnuts. Then put the ziplock bag in the freezer for about 3 or 4 hours. (This helps preserve the chestnuts’ bright color.)
- Wash rice as you would to make white rice. Soak in 3.5 cups of water for 30 – 40 minutes. →See white rice
- Take chestnuts out of the freezer, rinse off the sugar
- Add sake, mirin, soy sauce, salt, konbu and chestnuts to the soaking rice.
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Cook rice as you would white rice
- Cover the pot and set over a high flame
- After around 10 minutes, when the water starts to boil to blow, turn heat down to medium
- Cook on medium heat for about five minutes
- Once all the water is fully absorbed, turn heat off (if you’re using elecric stove, if you are using gas stove, turn the heat all the way down) and let it sit covered for another 5 minutes.
- After that take away konbu and turn over thoroughly with a shamoji, a flat rice paddle. If you don’t have a shamoji, use wooden spatula, never a metal spoon.
- Put cover back on, turn heat off, and let it steam for five to ten minutes.
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Serve as rice in 1soup-1dish, or 1soup-3dish. If you’d like, you can garnish it with black sesame seeds to make it prettier.
In Japan, we eat these types of flavored rice dishes either hot or cold, so kurigohan works great as part of a Japanese lunchbox.