Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bite me: 马蹄 Chinese Water Chestnuts

Peeled Chestnuts
What lives under ground, looks like a nut, tastes like a pear-potato mash up and is really good for you? Ding ding ding......Chinese Water Chestnut or Horse's hoof or which ever of the 100 local names you guessed. Nut is just a moniker. It's really a tiny corm that is grown in those muddy patches you get your boots stuck in. Once you dig them out, cut off the shoots, wash in cold running water to get all the mud out, peel and remove the crown, it's ready to eat.

When choosing the perfect chestnut, the skin should be red-brown. The best tasting ones are available between the Winter Solstice and it's peak period. Basically, the time when I'm busy hibernating. Spring chestnuts contain more water (not as sweet) and are identified by their dark-brown skin but no need to worry; they're 还可以 (ok).

For the most part it's eaten raw, however, it can be stir-fried with veggies or boiled but the latter isn't as tasty. Personally, I prefer them raw to obtain all the nutrients possible. We're talking Carotene, Vitamin A, B, C and E, Iron, Copper, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Magnesium, Selenium, Manganese. In addition, there's 0.2g fat and 1.2g protein per 100g. It is kind of heavy on the starch and fiber side being a corm all, so this is more of a daytime snack.

In Chinese medicine, it aids digestion (fiber), quenches thirst (water), increases metabolism (Phosphorus) and detoxifies (bucket load of macro and micro minerals) . It is a cooling food which means it's used to cure heat related diseases such as fever, jaundice, and inflammation. Recent research has revealed that it contains anti-bacterial properties which inhibit the effect of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

This super-food is still available so grab a few and incorporate it into your diet in between meals. For safety reasons, purchase from trusted vendors or supermarkets. Since chestnuts are cultivated in swampy areas, the risk of chemical and other toxic contamination increase.