|Chinese water chestnut|
|illustration circa 1880|
(Burm.f.) Trin. ex Hensch.
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||406 kJ (97 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||3 g|
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
The Chinese water chestnut or water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis) is a grass-like sedge native to Asia (China, Japan, India, Philippines, etc.), Australia, tropical Africa, and various islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is grown in many countries for its edible corms.
The water chestnut is not a nut at all, but an aquatic vegetable that grows in marshes, underwater, in the mud. It has tube-shaped, leafless green stems that grow to approximately 1.5 metres. The water caltrop, which also is referred to by the same name, is unrelated, and often, confused with the water chestnut.
The small, rounded corms have a crisp white flesh and may be eaten raw, slightly boiled, or grilled and, often, are pickled or tinned. They are a popular ingredient in Chinese dishes. In China, they are most often eaten raw, sometimes sweetened. They also may be ground into a flour form used for making water chestnut cake, which is common as part of dim sum cuisine. They are unusual among vegetables for remaining crisp even after being cooked or canned, because their cell walls are cross-linked and strengthened by certain phenolic compounds, such as oligomers of ferulic acid. This property is shared by other vegetables that remain crisp in this manner, including the tiger nut and lotus root.
The corms are rich in carbohydrates (about 90% by dry weight), especially starch (about 60 percent by dry weight), and are also a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, and manganese.
Raw water chestnuts are slightly sweet and very crunchy. Boiled water chestnuts have a firm and slightly crunchy texture, with a flavor that is very mild and slightly nutty, so the flavor easily may overpowered by seasonings or sauces with which the water chestnut is served or cooked. Water chestnuts often are combined with bamboo shoots, coriander, ginger, sesame oil, and snow peas. Steamed or sauteed vegetable medleys frequently contain water chestnuts. They often are used in noodle or rice dishes.
The Chinese water chestnut (traditional Chinese: 荸薺; simplified Chinese: 荸荠; hanyu pinyin: bíqi, 馬蹄; pinyin:mǎtí) is native to China and is cultivated widely in flooded paddy fields in southern China and parts of the Philippines, where it is called apulid. In Vietnam, it is called củ mã thầy (in the North) and củ năng (in the South) and is the main ingredient of bánh củ năng hấp, chè mã thầy. In Thailand it is called somwang (สมหวัง) and it often is used in a dessert entitled, tabtim krob (ทับทิมกรอบ). In India it is known commonly as Singhada, shingada, or singoda.
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