Chestnut Braised Chicken Which Is Very Easy To Do With The Right Technique

4 May

Braised Chicken Chestnut

Chestnuts have always been my favorite and there are just so many ways to cook them. For example, they can be boiled, grilled, roasted, made into a soup, or braised in a dish. A popular Chinese way to cook  is to braise Chestnuts with chicken. The nutty flavor of the chestnuts complements the chicken very well. Braising ensures that the chestnuts are softened enough to create that melt in your mouth texture.

My mother always used dried chestnuts, so I’m clueless about prepping fresh ones. Using my common sense, I figure boiling should be the right method for tackling fresh chestnuts’ shell and peel. It seems like the obvious thing to do, right?

Boiling 5 minutes or so works for the outer shell, which softens and becomes easy to cut through and tear off. The fuzzy membrane underneath, however, is a different story. It’s stubborn as hell! It sticks resolutely to the nutmeat, so I continue boiling,  and then boil some more. I try peeling off the reddish skin whilst the nuts are hot; I try again when they’re cold. Nothing works. As I fiddle in vain, the pot of chestnuts is bubbling away merrily on the stove. Eventually, after 30 minutes, I have to turn off the heat. Why? Because the chestnuts are cooked!


20 chestnuts, frozen shelled chestnuts, thawed

6 dried dark shiitake mushroom

1 onion, sliced lengthwise into eighths

1/2 lb chicken thigh, cut into bite-size piece

3 slices of ginger

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

2 stalks of scallions, sectioned


2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons cooking wine

1 teaspoon corn starch


1/2 cup of chicken stock or water

1 teaspoon of dark soy sauce

1 teaspoon of oyster sauce

1/2 teaspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of cooking wine

1 teaspoon of sesame oil


Use 1 cup of water to soak dried mushroom for 1 hour, remove stems. Save the water. Set Aside.

Marinate chicken with soy sauce, wine and corn starch for 20 minutes

Heat oil in a wok/saucepan, stir fry ginger, shallots, garlics for 2 minutes.

Stir in chicken, cook until both sides golden.

Add onions and cook for 1 minute.

Add chestnuts, dried mushrooms, oyster sauce, sugar, soy sauce, chicken stock and the reserved mushroom water.

Bring it to boil, then turn to low heat, cover and simmers for 20 minutes or until chestnuts are tender.

Stir in scallions. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil.

If boiling doesn’t work, what about roasting? Roasted chestnuts are quite easy to peel, right? I buy more chestnuts, cut a slit in each one, and chuck the lot in a hot oven. I then wait for the outer shell and inner pellicle to curl and pull back, revealing delicious naked meat underneath. Or rather, that’s how it is with chestnuts that are sold roasted. The ones I roast in the oven are hellbent on defying my efforts. The fuzzy skin sticks to the nutmeat as steadfastly as ever.

Living where I live – which is south of  West Malaysia, west of East Malaysia and east of West Sumatra – I can buy fresh chestnuts already shelled. And now, with just a towel and some boiling water, I can remove the pesky pellicle in a couple of minutes. With the right technique, it’s drop-dead easy. Never stop learning, my mother always said.


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