Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cracking Chestnuts!

It's that time of the year!

Okay, okay... I know you can get chestnuts (the Mandarin Castañas kind) all year round now, but you know what I mean! Mmmm... imagine walking past a stall where freshly cooked castañas are sold. Or remember how they used to actually cook it in front of you in Greenhills? I remember how this was such a treat for us whenever we'd spend Christmas in Hong Kong. Yes, cold weather + the smell of cooking chestnuts = Christmas.

So I was at the grocer's earlier (to get cake for an officemate) and right in front of the bakery was this stall selling castañas. Not exactly freshly cooked as it wasn't steaming hot, but fresh nonetheless. I was tempted to get a fourth of a kilo (more would always result in a sore throat) and was excited to start peeling my way to its delicious and meaty flesh. But they wouldn't crack right. Nope, they weren't hot enough to peel properly.

You know how frustrating it is to want to eat castañas when you can't enjoy the nut in full? Well yea, so I had to wait 'til I got to the office.

Here are two tips on how to get to the full flesh of it all without pulling your hair out:

1) HEAT OVER STOVE - They never tell you that you can reheat these things at home. Well you can. Just get out a pan, heat the nuts over low heat (so they don't burn) with NO OIL. Make sure you stir them around so you don't over-heat a particular side. When you smell them (should not smell burnt), take off heat, and peel 'em babies.

2) HEAT IN MICROWAVE - Just put one layer (don't let them sit on top of each other) in a microwable plate or bowl. Heat on high or medium high for around 20-30 seconds. Let cool for a few seconds before you touch them because they're going to be HOT! Then peel and eat to your heart's delight.

It's beginning to look and smell a lot like Christmas!

So yes, that's how you get the skin not to stick to the flesh. And that's how you get to enjoy those castañas at home.

Who said it should be difficult to crack and peel castañas?

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