Kanako's Kitchen

Kurigohan: Savory Rice with Chestnuts

Posted in Recipe, rice by Kanako Noda on October 27, 2009

kurigohanJapanese home cooking is seasonal cooking. Many of the dishes you’ll see in the blog now that the year is drawing to a close are things I wouldn’t think to make in spring or summer. Kurigohan is a case in point: a flavored rice dish that takes advantage of the bountiful chestnut harvest we get around this time of year, this is definitely my favorite way to eat chestnuts. It’s also a highly prized dish often served to honored guests.

It’s pretty easy to make kurigohan, but you do need to plan a little bit ahead: like all rice dishes, the rice needs to soak for a while before cooking. And to make the chestnuts keep a nice, vivid color, I recommend a little kitchen trick that, while not at all hard, does involve you starting to cook at least four hours ahead of serving time.

Ingredients (for nine)


  • Chestnuts – 600 g.
  • Rice – 3 cups
  • Water – 3.5 cups
  • Sake – 2 tablespoons
  • Mirin – 1.5 tablespoons
  • Soy sauce – 1.5 tablespoons
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Konbu – one section
  • Black sesame seed (optional)


  • Place raw chestnuts in water and bring to a boil.
  • Turn heat off when it reaches a boil, leave the chestnuts in the hot water for half an hour, to soften the shell.
  • With a knife, crack open the chestnuts and discard the shells.
  • Sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar on the chestnuts, place them in a ziplock bag, and seal the bag and massage the sugar into the chestnuts. Then put the ziplock bag in the freezer for about 3 or 4 hours. (This helps preserve the chestnuts’ bright color.)
  • Wash rice as you would to make white rice. Soak in 3.5 cups of water for 30 – 40 minutes. →See white rice
  • Take chestnuts out of the freezer, rinse off the sugar
  • Add sake, mirin, soy sauce, salt, konbu and chestnuts to the soaking rice.

leave the chestnuts in the hot water crack open the chestnuts and discard the shells cleaned chestnuts

sprinkle the suger prepare rice rinse off the sugar

click to enlarge

Cook rice as you would white rice

  1. Cover the pot and set over a high flame
  2. After around 10 minutes, when the water starts to boil to blow, turn heat down to medium
  3. Cook on medium heat for about five minutes
  4. Once all the water is fully absorbed, turn heat off (if you’re using elecric stove, if you are using gas stove, turn the heat all the way down) and let it sit covered for another 5 minutes.
  5. After that take away konbu and turn over thoroughly with a shamoji, a flat rice paddle. If you don’t have a shamoji, use wooden spatula, never a metal spoon.
  6. Put cover back on, turn heat off, and let it steam for five to ten minutes.

add everything to soaking rice let it sit covered turn over thoroughly with a shamoji

click to enlarge

Serve as rice in 1soup-1dish, or 1soup-3dish. If you’d like, you can garnish it with black sesame seeds to make it prettier.

In Japan, we eat these types of flavored rice dishes either hot or cold, so kurigohan works great as part of a Japanese lunchbox.

finish kurigohan

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4 Responses

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  1. Mitchi said, on October 27, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    That looks delicious. The only time I’ve had chestnuts was as some sort of Korean snack food. They don’t really grow in the places where I’ve lived.

  2. Janai said, on October 28, 2009 at 8:51 am

    I’m glad I Stumbled upon your website. I’ve been trying to learn to cook (and teach others) about more Japanese food than just sushi. So far I’ve mastered oyakodon, tonkatsu, and curry, but I’m excited to try some of these dishes.

    • kanako said, on October 28, 2009 at 9:23 am

      Hi Janai,
      thank you for visiting. I’m happy to know there are people like you cooking and loving Japanese food. There are a lot more recipes coming, so let’s enjoy cooking!

  3. Fatna Mhessa said, on October 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Hello Kanako san. thank you so much for kurigohan recipe.
    Kurigoha is one of my favorite Japanese food. I’m going to try to make it for dinner.

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