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Chestnuts in the Erruting qunfang pu 二如亭群芳譜 pt.2


Dip two chestnuts in oil and two in water before placing [them] in a pot. Line up another 47 chestnuts around [them]. Lightly cover the pot with wet paper and simmer gently. [The chestnuts] are ready when there are thundering sounds.[1]


Carve a cross on the bottom of every big chestnut. Line [them] up in a spiral in a pot, with the bottom facing down. Sprinkle a pinch of salt along the side of the pot. Put the lid on, start the fire, wait until [they] are cooked and then take [them] out.


Select two chestnuts with flat bottoms that can make a pair. Spread sesame oil on the bottom of one of them and plain water on the bottom of the other. Put the pair on the bottom of a pot. Take [more] chestnuts to line up in a spiral in the pot, covering [the original two]. Don’t hesitate to use plenty [of chestnuts]. Tightly cover the pot with a lid, simmer for the length of a meal, and take [them] out. [They will] all be soft and well done without sticking to the shell.


Yet another method: add in a length of twisted oilpaper[2] to stir-fry [with the chestnuts]. It is particularly good [with cookware] other than iron woks.[3] When the chestnuts are done, mash and sun-dry [them] before grinding [the dried mash] into fine powder. For every six litres[4] [of powdered chestnut], use four litres of fresh glutinous rice powder and half a litre of granulated sugar. Soak [all ingredients] in honey water. Run [the paste] through a sieve into a steamer. Steam [the paste] until it seems cooked through wherever cut open, [and then] roast [it] to make a cake.[5]


Door bars made of chestnut wood can keep burglars away.

* From Wang Xiangjin 王象晉 (1561-1653), Erruting qunfang pu 二如亭群芳譜 (preface dated 1621), “guopu” 果譜, 3.47b-48a.

[1] The earliest account of this method is found in the Southern Song recipe book Shanjia qinggong 山家清供 compiled by Lin Hong 林洪 (fl. 12th century), under the entry leigong li 雷公栗 (Lord of Thunder’s Chestnuts). Lin Hong heard of this method from a friend. After his first attempt using an iron pot, he found it superior to the sand-frying method. See A modern demonstration can be found here: [2] Youzhi nian 油紙捻 (twisted oilpaper) is made by twisting strips of dried oilpaper and used as a temporary light or a lighter. [3] Preferred utensils suggested by parallel texts include shadiao 沙銚 (clay pot) and yundou 熨斗 (iron); see, for example, Jujia biyong shilei quanji 居家必用事類全集: [4] One sheng 升 corresponded to one litre at the time. [5] A modern adaptation of this recipe can be found here:

"Les marrons" (1819–20) by Jean Charles Develly at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Drawing, Design for a Painted Porcelain Plate, Les Marrons (Chestnuts) for the Service des Objets de Dessert (Dessert Service); Company: Sèvres Porcelain Manufactory (France); France; pen and brown, black ink, brush and brown, black wash, white gouache, red crayon, graphite on tan paper mounted on blue-gray paper; 10.5 cm (4 1/8 in.), diameter; Museum purchase through gift of James Amster; 1989-13-17 (


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