All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Dinner, November 4, 2011

Chestnut season -- the season for kuri gohan chestnut rice has arrived.

  • Kuri gohan / steamed rice with chestnuts
  • Tara no shichimiyaki / cod saute with light teriyaki sauce and shichimi pepper
  • Asupara no ohitashi / asparagus in light broth
  • Kyabetsu no ume-gomaae / cabbage in plum sesame dressing
  • Kiriboshi-daikon to age no nimono / dried daikon radish cooked with thin deep-fried tofu

There was a large chestnut tree along the path to my aunt's house, and I always ran quickly to get out from under the tree at this time of year when I visited her. Chestnuts with their nasty burrs could fall on your head. The path was narrow, with one side next to a stream and the other side fenced. No place to escape. People might have removed branches or cut down the tree if it had been in the US, but there no adults seemed to care about the falling burrs. Rather, the tree provided us with an abundance of the taste of fall, and so it was a good tree.

Starchy, sweet chestnuts are cooked with rice. To straightforwardly appreciate the chestnut flavor, only a small amount of salt is added. Soy sauce would add too much flavor and also discolor the cheerful chestnut look. Sweet rice added to regular rice already brings out the flavor of the chestnuts, and kombu kelp and sake together give a subtle yet deep underlying tone to the dish.

Since rice is on the sweet side, something spicy is wanted with other dishes. I got a fillet of very fresh true cod from Sunny Farms, and it is cooked with soy sauce, mirin, sake and shichimi pepper. A light version teriyaki with aromatic pepper. Green asparagus is added as a side to cover up the fish’s dull brown look from being cooked with soy sauce. Juicy and lightly flavored asparagus also refreshes your mouth between other dishes.

Just like other dried vegetables and fruits, sun-dried daikon radish has a mellow sweet taste. Usuage thin-deep fried tofu enhances its sweetness. A very simple, frugal dish that seems like nothing special but warms the heart.

Originally I was going to cook one deep-fried dish, and cabbage in plum sesame dressing was intended to be a companion for that dish. The sweetness of cabbage is countered by sour umeboshi. The sourness is softened by tahini and is mild, which I find goes very well with deep-fried items, especially tofu.

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