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Kuri Kinton or Candied Chestnuts and Sweet Potatoes are a special Japanese New Year dish, which symbolizes economic fortune and wealth. Let’s make this gold color food for a prosperous year ahead!
For the final post on the Osechi Ryori (Japanese New Year Meal) series, I am sharing another popular dish called Kuri Kinton (Candied Chestnuts with Sweet Potatoes).
Kurikinton (栗金団) literary means “chestnut gold mash”, which symbolizes economic fortune and wealth and it’s an important part of the New Year meal to bring good luck and prosperity for the new year.
If you make this dish, please use Japanese Sweet Potatoes called Satsumaimo (さつまいも). Japanese sweet potatoes have a bright yellow color and they are sweeter than regular sweet potatoes.
Traditionally we put dried gardenia pods (kuchinashi no mi, くちなしの実) while simmering the sweet potatoes. The gardenia pods give a bright yellow color and they are used to naturally color other food such as “takuan” radish pickles and noodles. Unfortunately, I could not find these pods in the US so I couldn’t add them while cooking (Update: you can find it on Amazon). The yellow color in the photos is purely from the Japanese sweet potatoes.
If you have never had this dish, you might be surprised how sweet it is considering that it is not a dessert dish. You can adjust sweetness to your liking before you add the suggested amount.
2 Important Ingredients to Make Kuri Kinton
1. Candied Chestnuts
Although you can make candied chestnuts from scratch by peeling the chestnuts (this alone takes hours!), cooking them till tender, and preserving them in syrup, I save time by purchasing this jar of chestnuts in heavy syrup called Kuri Kanroni (栗甘露煮).
2. Japanese Sweet Potatoes
Called Satsumaimo, Japanese sweet potatoes are purple-ish red color on the outside and light yellow on the inside.
It’s sweet and we use this root vegetable often in Japanese sweets such as Japanese Sweet Potato, Daigaku Imo, and Sweet Potato Pie. If you are interested in learning about Japanese Sweet Potato, check out Japanese Sweet Potato.
You can purchase Japanese sweet potatoes in Japanese and Asian (Chinese and Korean) grocery stores or your local farmers’ market.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Kuri Kinton or Candied Chestnuts and Sweet Potatoes are a special Japanese New Year dish, which symbolizes economic fortune and wealth. Let's make this gold color food for a prosperous year ahead!
- 2 Kuchinashi no mi (dried gardenia pods) (See Notes)
Gather all the ingredients.
Peel the sweet potatoes. Slice the sweet potatoes into ½ inch pieces (so that they will be cooked equally).
Soak the sweet potatoes in water for 15 minutes to remove starch. Then put them in a large pot and add water just enough to cover them.
Bring the water to a boil on medium heat. Once boiling, lower the heat to medium-low heat and cook them for 15-20 minutes or until the skewer goes through smoothly. Then reserve about ¼ to ½ cup of the cooking water and drain completely.
Mash the boiled sweet potatoes through the fine-mesh strainer/sieve with a wooden spatula to puree them. You can use a food processor. If necessary, add a little bit of the reserved cooking liquid (I did not need it).
Here’s the finished pureed sweet potato. Take out all the chestnuts and 3 Tbsp of the syrup from the jar of Kuri Kanroni.
In the same pot, add the pureed sweet potato, sugar, salt, mirin, and the syrup from the chestnut.
Cook, stirring constantly, on low heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. If needed, add the reserved cooking liquid to loosen up the paste (I did not add) and adjust the sweetness with the syrup and mirin.
Add the chestnuts and cook until heated through, about 3-5 minutes. Let cool for 2-3 hours.
Serve at room temperature. To store, put Kuri Kinton in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
Kuchinashi no mi (dried gardenia pods): This give a sunshine yellow color when simmering sweet potatoes. They are used to naturally color “takuan” radish pickles, noodles, and other foods. If you can find them, crack in half and wrap in a cheese cloth to cook with sweet potatoes.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 28, 2012. The post has been updated with new images in December 2019.