Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - Kuri Gohan 栗ご飯 (Chestnut Rice) & Kinoko no sūpu きのこのスープ Clear Mushroom Soup

Kuri Gohan  栗ご飯 (Chestnut Rice)
Picture by Avelyn Grene (Kristen Lynn)


Many of the dishes that were served in the third course of the Crown tournament feast are considered "Autumn" foods.  Kuri Gohan is a typical fall dish comprised of two of the staple foods of Japanese cooking; chestnuts and Rice. It is believed that Japanese Chestnuts (Kuri) were cultivated in Japan before rice, with evidence of the use of chestnuts as early as 10,000-200 BCE.  There is archeological evidence of charred chestnuts found at Jomon Period settlements.  

Chestnuts are symbolic of success and hard times.  It was the symbolism of this dish that made it imperative to include it in the Crown Tourney feast. This was a very easy dish to put together and quite beautiful to look at. 

Recipe 

2 cups Japanese short grained rice
1 Tbsp mirin
1 tsp salt  as needed
20-25 chestnuts chopped coarsely (Note: If you are using raw chestnuts you will need to prepare them prior to adding to the rice.  I used precooked and peeled chestnuts purchased from a Japanese grocery)
Black sesame seeds to garnish

The rice was prepared in the instant pot using a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part rice, set on the rice setting for 10 minutes.  The rice was pre-soaked in warmed water for approximately 20 minutes, rinsed and then placed in the instant pot with the additional water. 

After cooking the rice was mixed with mirin and chestnuts, and garnished with the black sesame seeds. 

 Kinoko no sūpu きのこのスープ Clear Mushroom Soup
Picture by Avelyn Grene (Kristen Lynn)


Mushrooms are another symbolic food representing longevity. Shiitake mushrooms are the second most widely cultivated mushroom in the world. The earliest records of the cultivation of Shiitake mushrooms can be traced to 1209 Records of Longquan County by He Zhan. The techniques for cultivating the mushrooms were introduce in Japan from the Chinese sometime between 1500 and 1600 AD. This soup took the place of the Carp soup - Funa no shiru 鮒の汁 (Crucian Carp Broth) that was served to Iemitsu.

The third tray of Iemitsu's banquet consisted of showy foods that were most likely meant to be seen instead of eaten including Hamori and a funamori. 

  • Fowl served with its wings (hamori) - spectacle dish
  • Carp soup - Funa no shiru 鮒の汁 (Crucian Carp Broth) Use a miso above the grade of nakamiso, and it is good to add dashi. Wrap the funa (crucian carp) in wakame (Undaria pinnatifida seaweed) or kajime ( Ecklonia cava (species of brown alga)) and simmer it. When the umami flavor is light, add ground katsuo (bonito). However you do it, it is good to bring the miso to the start of a boil, like dashi. Boil it well and pour in salted sake.  Sanshô powder is used as a suikuchi.
  • Turbo (sazae) Sazae 栄螺 (Horned turban, Turbo cornutus) - It is good to make with such things as the insides of yonaki (spindle tailed snail), mirukui (Mirugai clam), torigai (Cockle), and tairagi(Fan mussel). Scald, and dress with wasabi and miso vinegar
  • [Spiny lobster] served in a boat shape (funamori) - spectacle dish
  • “Cloud hermit” (unzen)soup

Eric Rath in his "Banquets Against Boredom:Towards Understanding(Samurai) Cuisine in EarlyModern Japan", states "Unzen (or unzenkan) was a Chinese dish adopted in the Muromachi period, a gelatin made from grated yam, sugar, and scrambled egg, which was steamed to form a cloud shape when floating in soup."

He goes on to further explain that "the carp in the second soup was the favorite fish of the Muromachi period before sea bream surpassed it in popularity in the Edo period, when it still had its fans. Carp, wrote Hayashi Razan, was both a delicacy (bibutsu) and an auspicious delicacy nicknamed a “gift to Confucius” since the Chinese scholar received one when his son was born. However, two other dishes, which also date to Muromachi-period culinary customs, were especially objects of attention."

Additionally, he explains that "Fowl served with its wings hamori style featured a duck or quail cooked with its feathered wings reattached and positioned so that the bird looked like it might fly away. Spiny lobster in the shape of a boat featured a large crustacean whose legs, feelers, and body had been contorted to give the appearance of a sailing ship. Both dishes were served with additional decorations made from paper and flowers. Neither of these dishes was meant to be eaten; instead they were spectacle pieces meant to show off the cook’s skills and added dignity to the occasion. The equivalent of food sculptures, these dishes provided an important artistic dimension to the meal, crucial to the designation of a cuisine as distinct from ordinary foods and mundane ways of cooking and eating." 

Shiitake Dashi 

2 cups water
2 -3 dried shiitake mushrooms
3-in.-long piece kombu (dried edible kelp) 
1/3 cup mirin
1/4 cup soy sauce

Place mushrooms, kombu, and 2 cups water into a medium pot. Cover and chill overnight. Set pot over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. When small bubbles form along sides and bottom of pot, but before it actually begins to simmer, remove  mushrooms and kombu and strain the stock. Prior to serving heat broth and add mirin and soy sauce. 

Note: It is recommended to always use cold water to soak your shiitake mushrooms.  The stock, once drained can be used in soups, sauces etc.  It can be stored up to two days prior to usage.

To Make Soup

Add shiitake mushrooms to heated broth.  Garnish as desired with green onions.  

Note:  The soup was made with a mixture of dried shiitake, baby bella, oyster and button mushrooms.