Autumnal kara-age with chestnuts and ginkonuts 秋の栗と銀杏のから揚げ

japanese cake

Since I am running out of dishes to make with North American chestnuts, this is my last attempt this fall. Here is “kakiage” かき揚げ with the essences of autumn; ginkonuts 銀杏 and chestnuts 栗.

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Although it is possible to harvest ginko fruits (which nobody here does except some dedicate Japanese expats), clean off the smelly skin, broil and crack open to produce ginkonuts, but it is too smelly and messy work for even for me. I tried it on a very small scale once in the past but that was more than enough for one lifetime. In the center of the kakiage shown in the above picture is a chestnut surrounded by three small yellow ginkonuts (out of a can).

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I used whatever vegetables were available. They included: onion (thinly sliced) and carrot (julienned). The amount is all arbitrary. I first put the vegetables in a bowl and added a pinch of salt and enough cake flour to coat the vegetables and let it sit for a few minutes. The moisture came out of the vegetables and moistened the flour which makes it easier to fry the veggies crispy. This “undercoat” of flour means the batter will coat the vegetables better. I added a bit more flour and cold seltzer water and mixed to make a rather thin runny batter.

On a large spoon or wooden (flat) spatula (or  Japanese “Hera” へら), I placed the mixture and chestnuts (previously boiled and both outer skin and inner skin removed) as shown below.

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I slipped the mixture into hot oil (175-180C or 350F). I used peanut oil. I fried them for 4-5 minutes until brown and crispy (my oil was a bit too hot).

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The vegetables turned out to be a bit too brown but the crust was very light and crispy and deep frying makes the onions, ginko nuts and chestnuts very sweet. They have a nice texture as well. We had this with my usual green tea salt. Any left overs can be heated up nicely in a toaster oven. To reheat them in a toaster over, however, you need a metal grate over a cookie sheet since excess oil will drip down. This is another winning combination. You can’t go wrong with deep fried onions, a combination of sweet carrot and nuts.

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