Chestnut Rice – Autumn has come

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One thing that I really like in Japanese culture is that we can feel the season through food. Now it is autumn. In Japan, we say “Shokuyoku no Aki”, which means “autumn brings a good appetite”. This is because autumn is the season when a lot of fresh produce is in season, such as rice, ginger, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, mushrooms, salmon, saury pike, apple, persimmon, grape etc… yummmm….

I do not feel much of this “enjoy the season through food” concept here in Australia, however if you try, we can still see some differences in the supermarket in each season. Did you realise that apples are much tastier these days and persimmons are in the shops now? And…, do not forget my favourite, Chestnuts.

I especially love chestnut desserts; Mont Blanc Cake, Chestnut Tart, Chestnut Pound cake (see my recipe!), Chestnut Manju (Japanese sweet bun stuffed with sweet bean paste) and Chestnut Yokan (Sweet red bean past bar)…, yummmm….

However, to satisfy my nostalgia, I would like to introduce this Chestnut Rice recipe today. When my mother cooks it, our family realise that the summer has ended and that autumn is here now. This recipe reminds of my family and of Japanese autumn.

 

Ingredients (serving 4 people)

200g Chestnuts with shell – about 13-15 chestnuts

2 cups of Rice – Japanese Rice, Sushi Rice or Short Grain Rice (Please use Rice Cooker’s cup). If you wish, replace ½ cup of the rice to Sticky Rice (Mochigome), which can be purchased at some Asian food stores.

½ Teaspoon of good quality Sea Salt

2g of Dried Kelp – wiped with a wet cloth

How to prepare chestnuts

  1. Soak chestnuts in water over night. This is to make the shell soft so that it will be easier to peel it off.
  2. Using a knife, slice a little bit of the bottom of the chestnut off.
  3. Using your fingers, peel the hard shell off from the cut end. You can peel it off quite easily.
  4. Then, using a knife, peel the inner skin completely. Place the chestnut into a bowl of water as soon as it is peeled. Please be careful with your fingers when you peel the inner skin, as it is time consuming and slippery to peel small chestnuts.

Method:

  1. Put rice in a rice cooker’s removable bowl and rinse the rice. Rest the washed rice in the bowl for about 20 minutes (if your rice cooker includes this time into the cooking time, it is not necessary to do so).
  2.  Add water up to the line of 2 as marked inside the removable bowl (not included in the ingredients list above).
  3. Add sea salt and dried kelp to the rice.
  4. Place the prepared chestnuts on the rice.
  5. Set the rice cooker and cook it as per the rice cooker’s instructions.
  6. Once the rice cooker has completed cooking, let it sit for about 30 minutes (if your rice cooker includes this time into the cooking time, it is not necessary to do so). Remove the dried kelp. Fold over the rice with a rice paddle and serve it in a rice bowl while it is hot.

 

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Chestnuts Pound Cake

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Serving: 18 cm Pound Cake Tin (Rectangular)

Ingredients:

100g of Butter (unsalted) – softened

80g of Brown Sugar

2 Eggs – room temperature

60g of Self Raising Flour

40g of Almont Meal

A Jar of Preserved Chestnuts in Syrup (80g for Chestnuts in a Jar)

A pinch of Salt

Method

  1. Firstly do all preparations. Grease the cake tin with a small amount of butter and line it with baking paper. Sift Self Raising Flour and Almond Meal together, and add a pinch of Salt in it. Beat Eggs.
  1. Put 4 Chestnuts aside from the jar. The rest is to be chopped into 1cm cubes. For the 4 Chestnuts, cut in half. Keep the Syrup as well.
  1. Beat Butter in a large bowl until it becomes creamy and light yellow colour. You can do it either by hand or by electric mixer.
  1. Add Sugar in the butter and beat together until it becomes creamy, light colour and fluffy. It should become very smooth and be creamed until you do not feel the roughness of Sugar.
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degree C.
  1. Add Eggs in 3 parts. Mix very well every time until the egg disappears in the butter. It is important to mix it very well and speedy to avoid separation. If it is separated, add 2 tablespoon of flour so that it will be fixed.
  1. Add Self Raising Flour, Almond Meal and Salt. Fold them gently until it becomes very smooth. Stir very gently with a spatula without mixing too much, but still flour needs to be well incorporated in the butter and the batter needs to become smooth and silky.
  1. Add the chopped Chestnuts and 2 Tablespoon of the kept Syrup in the batter. Fold them well and gently.
  1. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Align the halved Chestnuts in a straight line in the middle. During baking, the Chestnuts will be sunk in the bottom by leaving a nice centre line on top.
  1. Bake it for 40 minutes, or until a long wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.
  1. As soon as taking the cake out from the oven, apply 5 Tablespoon of the kept Syrup on the surface of the cake evenly. Cool it down in the tin for 10 minutes, and then remove it from the tin and let it cool completely on a wire rack.

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