I thought I had exhausted all my repertoire possible for dishes using chestnuts but then I encountered this recipe on line and decide to make it using what was left over after making “shibukawa-ni” 渋皮煮, “Chestnut croquettes” 栗のコロッケ and “Chestnut rice” 栗ご飯. This turned out to be a good dish and we had this as a sumptuous lunch over the weekend.
The name of the chicken chestnut dish I made is “Chiki-marron” チキマロン(Chiki-English for chicken and marron-French for chestnut). I used, cleaned chestnuts (both outer and inner skins removed as posted before). I started with whole/intact chestnuts (9 of them) but realized that unlike Japanese chestnuts they would not be intact after cooking because of the many deep crevasses characteristic of North American chestnuts. I added additional 3 chestnuts that broke into several large chunks when I peeled them (#1).
I poured in 1 cup (about 200 ml) of “dashi” broth (I made it with kelp and bonito flakes), sugar (4 tbs), and sake (4 tbs). Once it came to the boil, I turned the flame down, skimmed off any scum from the surface and covered with a “otoshi buta” 落とし蓋 . I simmered for 8 minutes (#2). I then added soy sauce (3 tbs) and simmered for 10-15 minutes until the simmering liquid was reduced to less than half (#3). I added freshly deep fried chicken “kara-age” 鶏の唐揚げ (see below) and mixed and simmered for 1-2 minutes until the potato starch coating bloomed into gelatinous coating and absorbed the simmering liquid (#4).
For chicken Kara-age: I skinned and deboned chicken thighs and cut them into bites sized pieces. I made up all of them but used only two for this dish reserving the rest for future use. (Of course number of remaining pieces declined continuously because we started snacking on them as soon as I made them). My wife declare that I could stop right there the dish was great just as it was.
I made the Kara-age by using a small amount of soy sauce and grated ginger and massaged it. I then dredged in potato flour (katakuri-ko 片栗粉) and deep fried in 170F peanut oil for 5 minutes (or until the center of the meat is done and surface crispy) turning several times. I drained them on a rack for a few minutes then added kara-age chicken into the pot of chestnuts and sauce. I cooked the mixture stirring constantly until the coating on the chicken absorbed the simmering liquid leaving the pieces with a glossy rich coating.
I had some frozen chestnut rice which I heated in the microwave. It revived very well and tasted almost like freshly made.
My wife likes to add a thin pat of sweet butter to her chestnut rice (which is not the traditional preparation but tastes good nonetheless). I also sprinkled on some “Goma-shio” ごま塩 which is a mixture of black sesame and kosher salt (see below). This is a rather standard Japanese seasoning.
Although we love kara-age and we were a bit skeptical about this dish (put crispy chicken into liquid? Really?), this was quite good. The crispy coating transformed into an altogether different but very flavorful coating that went very well with the chestnuts. Most of the chestnuts crumbled a bit but were still very good. The combination of chestnut rice and this dish is also good and really enjoyed all the goodness of chestnuts.