Revealing the Chestnut fruit...Yes! This is a Food Blog! And that picture is indeed part of the Chestnut fruit. Never seen it before? Well, then you should try hanging around the Chestnut tree around this time of the year. Yeah.. it raised one of those age old questions again.. Who on earth decided to pry open this ugly fruit to try its contents?
Even the picture I posted above doesn't suggest how the actual content look like. In Singapore, I only get the ready cleaned fruit in a pack. So I would have absolutely no idea how a Chestnut actually look like with all its clothes on!
Before I get on with the Food part about Chestnuts, I will like to introduce a little bit more about our modest Chestnuts. Heard of Conkers? I wouldn't have any idea what it is though I've read about it in comic books from UK. I know it looks suspiciously like a Dried Sea Urchin that children discovered it to be a real fun toy at this time of the year. Recall the nice spiky shells? Children actually tied a string around the Chestnut and take turns bashing each other's nuts :P till one the Conker give way and broke. It sounds fun to me.
However, it has been deemed a Health and Safety issue in UK (yeah along with so many other practices... heard of Snowball fighting? It's one of them too). And some schools have banned the Conker Game. What? Well... the parents resorted to wrapping ze Nuts in cotton wool so their children don't get hurt. Or I've seen pictures of children in UK newspapers with safety goggles?! Erm.. I rest my case. Read about the ban here.
Now to the BEST part of the Chestnuts.. Food!!! In the West and Japan, Chestnut puree is one of the highly valued items in confectionery. Ever heard of it peeps? Non? Chestnut puree makes a MEAN cake (Ask the French!). Lovely and sweet .. and really light fragrance. Boy do I Luuurve this time of the year! Here's a nice Chestnut Torte recipe for you!
In Singapore and the SE of Asia, we have a different use to this lovely fruit. Recall the 5th lunar month my dear folks back home? Bak Chang!!! Yeah. No Bak Chang is complete without a few chestnuts or two. For those who do not know what it is.. It's a lovey mixture of bellied pork (or less fatty version), dried mushrooms, dried chestnuts and dried shrimps cooked with dark soy sauce, 5 spice powder, etc (secret ingredients.. you have to try it to know it!). Then wrapped in seasoned Glutinous Rice (secret seasonings .... hee heee hee). The last part is the trick of wrapping all of these beauuuutiful ingredients in Bamboo leaves in a pyramid shape (securing the bundle with a string usually organic too) and cooked in stock till the contents are thoroughly cooked. By contents I mean the Glutinous Rice. I'll show a picture of my mum's Bak Chang (Rice Dumpling) in another post.
With all said and done, hope you'll appreciate this not too pretty fruit the next time you see the tree by the roadside. Have a Chestnut-ty Autumn!