Besides matsutake 松茸, chestnuts 栗 are a classic symbol of autumn. Every year, we get whatever remained of North American Chestnuts from California. Same as matsutake dishes, I almost exhausted what I can make from chestnuts but I came up with a variation of the chestnuts croquet.
This is same as the chestnut croquet but instead of bread crumbs, I used broken thin Japanese noodles or so-men 素麺. As you can see above, it resembles the spiky outer layer or “Iga” いが or 毬 of chestnuts (sort of). This is mostly for appearance rather than taste.
When you cut into it whole chestnuts appears.
To make it, (I am repeating the previous post).
Chestnuts: The best way to removed the hard outer skin is to do it while it is hot after boiling. I took one out at a time and keep the rest in the hot water in which the chestnuts were cooked. I removed the outer skin by cutting the bottom of the chestnut (mostly skin part) and then peeling off the outer skin or “onikawa” 鬼皮. The outer skin is easy to remove (except that the chestnut is very hot). The inner textured skin or “shibukawa” 渋皮” is more difficult to remove. Especially for Northern American chestnuts, the inner skin goes deep into the crevasses of the nut. Sometimes pulling up will release it or more often, the nuts break apart. We did about 20 chestnuts and 9 came out whole and other 11 were fragmented.
I placed the fragmented chestnuts (11) into a small food processor and pulsed it to break down the chestnuts and then added milk. I gradually added milk as I ran the processor until a chestnut paste is formed (upper left and right below). I added a pinch of salt as well. The paste was stiff enough that the traces of the tines of a fork remained on the surface.
I moistened my hands and covered each whole chestnut with the chestnut paste (right lower).
For regular croquets, I dredged with flour, egg water and panko bread crumbs. For this preparation, instead of panko bread crumbs, I broke up the dried somen noodle in small segments (about1 inch or less) and coated the croquets. I just deep fried them in 350F oil for several minutes or until the somen noodles were golden brown.