Every year around this time, I constantly crave one of my favorite foods, kuri-gohan, or chestnut rice. The combination of sweet chestnuts on top of the even more subtle sweetness of shinmai (new-harvest rice) is irresistible. (Check out my classic recipe for making chestnut rice from 2016.)

And yet, I often hesitate to make it because the preparation can be such a bother. Even after you remove the spiky burr, the chestnut protects itself within two more layers of skin. The outer layer, called the onikawa — or the “ogre skin” — is not that hard to remove if you soak it well. But the thin inner skin, called the shibukawa — or “bitter skin” — is almost impossible to remove, and ruinous to your fingers if you try.

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