The Autumn Flavor
As the autumn is slowly setting in, the chestnut harvest begins in Japan. Japanese chestnut (Castanea crenata) is a special species that grows only in Japan and Korea. It is called Kuri (栗）in Japanese. The size of a chestnut can be as big as a 500 yen coin! The largest chestnuts are in Semboku City, and they are called the Saimyoji-guri (西明寺栗). Chestnuts from that species measure sometimes over 3cm in diameter and weigh approximately 25-30g. Chestnuts are delicious regardless how you prepare it. You'll sometimes see Japanese roasted chestnuts while walking on the street.
Bun with Chestnut: Kuri-manju | 栗まんじゅう
Kuri-manju is delicious to eat as a snack or for breakfast. It is the combination of a soft cookie texture and has the fragrance of a bun. It can be compared to roasted buns with fillings that are often served in Chinese restaurants. Okane Eisen in Daimaru Tokyo is popular for its seasonal chestnut flavor dumplings.
Sweet Bean Paste with Chestnut: Kuri-kinton | 栗きんとん
The art of the traditional sweet known as the kuri-kinton is quite impressive traditional. In it there is a mix of sweet bean paste with chestnut. Wakanaya in Kyoto is popular for roasted kuri-kinton that brings customer from all over the country to buy it as a souvenir (omiyage).
Chestnut Coated with Sugar: Anguri | あん栗
Traditional Jelly Dessert with Chestnut: Kurimushi Yokan | 栗蒸し羊羹
Yokan is a traditional jelly dessert that does not melt easily and has a hard texture. The picture above shows the yokan with steamed chestnuts inside. You can get yokan easily in any shopping complex. Aoyagi Seike (青柳正家) serves the popular Kurimushi Yokan in Asakusa.
Mochi Dumpling with Chestnut: Kuri Dango | 栗団子
Dangos are small steamed dumplings made of rice flour that have a chewy texture. They are typically served skewered three or four to a stick and topped with sweet or salty sauce or bean paste. Soon, the local stalls, stores, and restaurants will start selling dangos topped with chestnut paste.
Kuri-Kinton Recipe | 栗きんとん (8 servings)
150 grams Approx. 10 pieces of Japanese Chestnuts
30 grams Sugar
10 grams Roasted soybean flour (kinako)
30 ml Soymilk
Step 1: Steam the chestnuts. Let them cool down and cut them in half.
Step 2: Use a mixer (food processor) to mashed the chestnuts.
Step 3: Sugar, roasted soybean flour and soymilk are added into the dough in the mixer (food processor) and mixed until smooth.
Step 4: Put a generous scoop of 20-25g of the paste in a plastic wrap. Then, use a cloth to wrap around to help you make the kuri-kinton into its shape. Once the shape is formed, remove it from the plastic wrap. Enjoy the sweets with a cup of green tea. Bon Appetit!
There are workshops on making Japanese traditional sweets (wagashi) offered in certain places. Atelier Cafe in Kamakura is active in teaching how to make local delicacies to visitors from all over the globe. You can have a look at the coming schedule through their Facebook page. You should give a try if you love the Traditional sweets and wish to learn how to make them yourself.
Chestnut Harvesting Experience
You can check out various farms such as Taira Chestnut Park and other. There, you can experience chestnut harvesting. Do check out the website for more information on the farm that is closer to your location.
Boiled rice with Chestnut also known as kuri-gohan (栗ご飯) is a popular Japanese dish that you can have in some restaurant. If you want to try a European version of a chestnut sweet, you should try the Mont Blanc and Marron Glacé, which are originally from France. They are said to be more popular in Japan than they are in France.