Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kuri 栗

American chestnuts may be all but extinct, but chestnuts are alive and well in Asia.  You often find chestnuts in sweet and savory dishes this time of year and they probably remind your grandma of Christmas and the Rat Pack.  Roasted chestnuts have a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that lends itself well to soups, pastas, rice, and desserts.  Unlike other nuts, chestnuts are low in fat and are very similar in nutritional makeup to brown rice.  Maybe that's why chestnut rice is so popular here in the fall.

How to Prepare
The easiest way to deal with chestnuts is to buy a bag of them already roasted.  Every supermarket has them this time of year.  If you're Stateside, I've heard you can buy them at Trader Joe's.  If you decide to use fresh chestnuts, shell the nuts, cut them in half, and boil them until soft.  They won't have the same roasted taste but work just as well in soups and desserts.

Easy Chestnut Recipe
While chestnut soup is amazing, it can be time consuming for those not used to working with cream soups.  So instead I decided to post this delicious pasta dish.

Pasta with Chestnuts, Prosciutto, and Sage

Serves 4
Prep Time: About 30 minutes

  • 1/2 cup prosciutto, chopped 生ハム
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage (can substitute 2tsp dried if your Heiwado doesn't stock fresh herbs)
  • 1 cup crumbled roasted chestnuts
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 225 grams dried flat pasta such as fettuccine (you can find fettuccine at Amica or Belsie, among other places.  If you can't find, just use the biggest mm spaghetti available at your store)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or 1/2 cup of the powdered Parmesan cheese.
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1. Cook onion and mushrooms in olive oil, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Add garlic and 1 tablespoon sage and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. Stir in chestnuts and prosciutto, remove from heat.
4. Cook pasta until al dente.
5. Reserve 1 1/2 cups cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander and add veggie mixture in skillet.
6. Add 1 cup reserved cooking water along with cheese and butter and cook, tossing constantly, over high heat until pasta is well coated (add more reserved water if necessary), about 1 minute.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve sprinkled with parsley and remaining tablespoon sage.
8. Finished!


  1. You'll usually be able to find roasted, peeled chestnuts at middle eastern stores, too. That's where we buy ours. Or eats them like candy.

  2. Yeah I think you can find it at Chinese markets as well!