Dec 2

Kurigohan–Japanese Chestnut Rice

in Japanese, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Rice & Noodles

Update 12/8/09: I'm excited to be a featured blogger on for's Holiday 2009 blow-out ~ come see our favorite holiday recipes!

Japanese home cooking is all about cooking with what's in season.  Chestnuts are widely used in Japan when in season in a variety of ways.  They even show up in a Japanese folk tale.  When I bought my pork butt roast to make kalua pig, I happened to pass a big basket of beautiful chestnuts and so I decided to buy a bagful and make kurigohan (Japanese chestnut rice).  This rice dish is so easy to make and pairs wonderful with the kalua pig.  The chestnuts are steamed with the rice which adds tons of flavor to the rice and also maximizes the sweetness of the chestnuts. 

First you soften the shells of the chestnuts so that you can peel them, by putting them in some water, bringing the water to a boil, and then turning the heat off and letting the chestnuts sit in the hot water for a while.

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Then you carefully peel the chestnuts with a knife.


I like to then put the peeled chestnuts in a ziploc bag, sprinkled them with some granulated sugar, and then massage the sugar into the chestnuts.

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Then I seal up the bag and put it in the freezer for a few hours.  This helps to preserve the beautiful color of the chestnuts when you cook them. 

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When you are ready to use the chestnuts, you take them out of the freezer, and rinse off the sugar in some water.  Then you put your rice, water, mirin, soy sauce, and salt into your pot or rice cooker, add the chestnuts, and then place a piece of konbu on top of everything. 

Japanese-style white rice

Cooking the kurigohan

Then you cook everything!  As it cooks you'll start to smell a heavenly nutty aroma and you'll start to understand why this dish is such a popular dish during chestnut season in Japan.

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Makes approximately 6 servings

25 to 30 chestnuts (raw, still in their shells)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 cups short grain white rice
3 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 5-inch long piece of konbu (optional)

1. Place the raw chestnuts in a pot and add enough water to cover them.  Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil.  When the water comes to a rolling voil, turn off the heat and leave the chestnuts in the hot water for 30 minutes.  This softens the shell so that you can peel them.

2. With a knife, being careful not to cut yourself, crack open the chestnuts and discard the shells.

3. To preserve the bright color of the chestnuts, place the chestnuts in a ziploc bag and sprinkle them with the granulated sugar.  Massage the sugar into the chestnuts, seal the bag, and then put it in the freezer for 3 to 4 hours.  When you are ready to cook the rice, take the chestnuts out of the freezer and rinse off the sugar with some water.

4. Wash the rice well.  Put the rice, water, mirin, soy sauce, and salt into your pot or rice cooker, add the chestnuts, and then place a piece of kombu on top of everything.  Cook the rice as you would white rice. 

To cook in a rice cooker: After all the ingredients have been placed in the cooker, close the lid firmly, and press the button to start the cooker.  Once it has finished cooking, let the it sit for an additional 10 minutes before opening the cooker, to allow any excess moisture to be absorbed.  Then open the cooker, remove the konbu, turn the rice over gently with a rice paddle or a wooden spoon, and serve.

To cook on the stove top: After all the ingredients have been placed in a pot, cover the pot and sit it on the stove over high heat.  Bring the water to a rolling boil (listen for bubbling noises, but do not open the pot or you will lose helpful steam) and then reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.  Once all the water is fully absorved, turn the heat off and let the rice sit covered for at least 10 minutes.  Remove the konbu, turn the rice over gently with a rice oaddle or a wooden spoon, and serve.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Vicki December 2, 2009 at 7:12 pm

I've never peeled a chestnut that wasn't already roasted. I sure hope this is easier because this dish looks like heaven in a bowl, and my fingers still hurt from the chestnuts from Thanksgiving stuffing :)


Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets December 2, 2009 at 8:58 pm

I love chestnuts and have seen several mentions of this dish recently (tis the season, right?). You make it sound amazing so I hope to try it soon. Love that first shot of the chestnuts boiling!


Susan December 2, 2009 at 11:14 pm

I can't wait to try out this recipe; it looks delicious. I love chestnuts. I've had chestnuts with rice and chicken in a Chinese dish before, but I've never had Kurigohan. I must purchase some chestnuts this weekend :).


Mike December 3, 2009 at 2:29 am

Stepping out of a small subway station late on a cold winters night and catching the smell of chestnuts roasting on a push cart is one of my favorite memories of Japan.
It's to bad chestnuts can't be found in central Florida……


Fuji Mama (Rachael) December 3, 2009 at 8:30 am

Mike–YES! The smell of roasted chestnuts and the smell of roasted sweet potatoes were 2 of my all-time favorites things. I’m sad that you don’t have chestnuts where you are!


Jingle December 3, 2009 at 6:13 am

It looks very delicious. You are amazing.


Debi(Table Talk) December 3, 2009 at 9:02 am

Forget "chestnuts roating on an open fire"…I want some of this rice!


LollyChops December 4, 2009 at 9:35 am

Ron saw the roasted pig from your last post and has been asking me to make it.  Daily.  hehe..  this rice looks tasty too!
HUGS little mama!


[email protected] in Iowa December 7, 2009 at 7:57 am

I've never cooked with chestnuts before.  This rice dish looks so comforting.  I'm going to have to look for konbu at the Asian market today ;)


Tickled Red February 23, 2010 at 7:27 pm

What a neat new way for me to cook chestnuts the next time that they are in season. Delicious!
Monkey Two and I are rice addicts.


Franko August 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Amazing dish, awesome recipe!
Just made it tonite, to go along with my Kalua Pork…

Thanks so much, everything was perfect….


Fuji Mama (Rachael) August 28, 2013 at 4:58 am

@Franko — So glad you enjoyed it!


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