The temperature has started dropping and the autumn season is fast approaching.

This means swapping out clothes, pulling out the kotatsu, dusting off that nabe pot, and getting ready for what is considered the season with the best food in Japan! Be sure to eat your fair share of mikan, persimmons, and of course chestnuts!


Typically, you’ll find chestnuts being roasted out on the street this time of year and you’ll see farmers’ markets selling raw chestnuts by the bag. One popular way to enjoy chestnuts is by cooking them with rice. Thus we have 栗ご飯 (kuri gohan). This recipe will help familiarize you with the intensive labor required to peel chestnuts. Don’t be intimidated though! You will be rewarded with higher tensile strength in your fingers and a warm, savory traditional autumn meal.



Yield: 2-3 large bowls of rice




1 ¼ cups Japanese White or Brown Rice


¼ cup Mochi (glutinous) Rice   *(If you don’t have mochi rice at home, 1 ½ cups of Japanese White or Brown Rice in total will work too)


13 Chestnuts (or however many you happened to buy)


1 tsp Mirin or Sake (or ½ a tsp of each)


â…“ tsp Salt or Soy Sauce


*For a variation of this recipe substitute the Salt/Soy Sauce & Mirin/Sake for 1 ½ Tbsp. Sugar and some Honey if you have a sweet tooth. Be warned though, this variation is NOT traditional Kuri Gohan. It’s yummy though. ;)




  1. Mix the rice into your rice cooker pot and wash thoroughly.Cover the rice with water and let it soak as you prepare the chestnuts.
  2. Fill a large pot with water and the chestnuts. Cover with a lid. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let the chestnuts soak in the hot water for 30 minutes. Drain.
  3. Using a sharp knife, peel the chestnuts and put them into a bowl of tap water. Start from the bottom part of the chestnut and carefully slice into the part where the skin texture of the chestnut changes. Remove the remaining shell and peel off any skin to reveal the milky or yellow glow of the chestnut’s interior. *Please be careful not to cut yourself on this step*
  4. Let the chestnuts soak in the bowl of water for about 5 minutes. Rinse and drain the chestnuts a few times.
  5. Give your rice a final wash, rinse, and drain, before adding the amount of water appropriate for 1 ½ cups of Rice. (Measurement usually marked on the rice cooker bowl.)
  6. Mix in the Mirin/Sake, salt/soy sauce, and chestnuts. Start your rice cooker. If you have a fancier model with multiple settings, set it to cook on the 炊込み (takikomi) setting. If you don’t have a rice cooker, this can be cooked in a pot the good ‘ole fashioned way, too.
  7. When the rice is finished, stir everything once more with the rice paddle.

Serve while warm. If there is leftover rice, you can make chestnut rice balls!