How To Buy, Store & Peel Chestnuts
November through February is the season for Chestnuts in Asia. If one is visiting Asia during this time, then you are most likely to see people enjoying a handful of chestnuts, at all times of the day. Such strong is the tradition of having Chestnuts during this season, that the Mitsuwa Marketplace, the largest Japanese Supermarket in California, U. S has vendors selling roasted chestnuts in bags.
Even when the season for chestnuts is long gone, most chestnut lovers like to snack on them, and therefore they settle for pre-roasted chestnuts. These are almost always stocked near the billing counter, perfect I would say as a last minute buy. A lot of people on the other hand are chestnut eaters during the holidays. Roasting and shelling them together can be a considered as a family activity. This can be quite a chore for your finger tip, but the result is worth it. This can be used as salad dressing and sometimes allowed to simmer in the stock.
How to Shell and Peel Chestnuts
Shelling chestnuts is rather simple. Warm a towel and place the unpeeled nuts on them. Its easier to get work done, if the nuts are slightly warm. Now place one nut at a time on another towel, so that they don’t roll away, and using a sharp knife cut right across the flat side. You can bake these up by placing them directly on the rack or in a shallow pan in a preheated (400 degree F) oven. You can also wrap the nuts in cloth and squeeze them to crack the shell. By using the edge of a knife pry out the skin that is stuck in the crevices.
Buying and Storing Chestnuts
You can easily find chestnuts in Korean and Chinese market. Choose some of the heavy, shiny ones and store them in a cool dry place. You can either use them up fresh or you can deep free them unshelled, and then thaw them before use.
Chestnuts are in season in the late fall and early winter so you may be able to get some fresh ones still. (Chinese and Korean markets are good source for them.) Select shiny, heavy-feeling nuts and store them in a cool, dry place. Use the nuts while they're still full and heavy. Or, freeze them unshelled, thawing them in the refrigerator before use.
Storage and Use
The best thing about chestnuts is that they keep for a real long time (close to a year actually). You can put them away in your freezer and be sure that they will stay there for a long time. When you finally get down to peeling it, remember that chestnuts swell a little while cooking, so you do not have to peel too many.
You can simmer the chestnuts with come chicken broth and butter, along with a little cilantro. You can serve these with sticky rice or serve them as whole. Adding some curry leaves will only enhance the flavour.
Image Credit: www.marketmanila.com