Water chestnut is a very unusual and reliable ingredient that has a crunch and a light sweetness. This is a very common ingredient among Chinese cuisine especially.
Water chestnut as I previously mentioned is an ingredient that is usually found in Asian supermarkets and cuisine. It is an ingredient that has been cultivated in China since ancient times. Furthermore, its name comes from the fact that it resembles the chestnut shape and colour.
Actually, the water chestnut is not a nut at all, but it has an aquatic tuber and it grows in freshwater marshes. This is an ingredient that can be eaten raw but it’s not very advisable because they might come with diseases from the water they come from. But what if you want to use it in your cooking and you can’t find any? Is there anything else that you can put?
Can you substitute water chestnut? Well, yes you can. Even though this is an ingredient that is commonly used in the Asian cuisine, there are other common ingredients that can be used instead like: Turnip, Canned water chestnuts, Jerusalem artichokes or Jicama slice.
Also, since there is flour made from water chestnuts, you can find out what the flour substitutes are. Read the article to find out more on water chestnuts as ingredients, some recipe ideas and their alternatives.
Water Chestnut as an ingredient:
This is an ingredient that is commonly used in Chinese recipes. They usually use it in a stir-fry with vegetables and are also part of a classical bacon appetizer. Another use is when they add crunch to a creamy spinach dip and bring a vegetable side dish a very exotic and interesting flavour. They are usually added at the end of the cooking process.
You should also know that water chestnuts are very nutritious and contain high amounts of fibre, potassium, magnesium, copper. Also, it contains B6 and riboflavin and their calories come from carbs.
The freshwater chestnuts which are freshly picked have a different taste from the canned ones. They have a fruity and nutty flavour which is somehow sweet and it is like a cross between an apple and coconut. Whereas the canned ones have barely any flour at all.
Substitutes for Water Chestnuts
No need to worry, water chestnut can be substituted. Read what are the other alternatives that we provided which can actually reflect almost the same taste as the water chestnuts. They have the same use and are substituted with equal amounts or based on your choosing.
This is one of the cheaper substitutes that can be used for water chestnut. This is a root vegetable that is associated with potatoes or beets. They have originated in eastern Asia and cultivated around the Roman Empire.
To substitute it you just have to slice the turnip into slices and put in oil for a few minutes. Add a little salt and water, cover it and cook until the turnip gets soft. You can add this alternative in many Eastern cuisines and eat them as a side dish.
They have a slight spiciness in their flavours and the older ones develop a pronounced mustard flavour which mellows during the cooking process.
2. Canned water chestnuts
If you can’t find fresh ones, you can always use canned water chestnuts. They taste almost the same as the fresh ones, but the fresh ones have a nuttier taste. You can always use the one for the other because they are practically the same.
3. Jerusalem Artichokes
Another variety that is useful is the Jerusalem artichoke. It is a product that is derived from the sunflower with a lumpy, brown skin tube and resembles a ginger root. It is white, nutty, sweet and crunchy with a good amount of iron in it. It is a very good substitute in many recipes. Substitute equal amounts of Jerusalem artichokes for water chestnuts in a recipe.
4. Jicama Slices
This is a root vegetable with papery, golden-brown skin and a very starchy white interior. It is originally grown in Mexico and spread all over in Asia. It is an ingredient that requires a long growing season and it usually thrives in places that are warm. Very juicy with a slightly sweet and nutty flavour which is similar to the chestnut. Use equal amounts or adapt by your own tasting.
Water Chestnut Flour Substitutes
Another way that you can find water chestnuts is actually the flour. Moreover, there is a flour made from dried, ground water chestnuts. The process of making goes first with the nuts which are boiled beforehand, then they are peeled, dried and made into flour.
The flour is commonly used as a thickener. Also, in many Asian recipes, water chestnut flour is used to make deep-fried recipes even better. This is a type of flour that gives a light crust to the product and stays white even when cooking and when frying.
However, if you don’t have anything at hand or you don’t have at home when you are cooking, no need to worry if you don’t have water chestnut flour, read off the substitutes below to help your recipe.
5. Almond Flour
This is one of the flour substitutes that has a very high-rich protein content and what is important is that is gluten-free. You can also make it at home by grinding blanched sweet almonds or simply buy it in a health-food store. It is more granular and less sweet than the water chestnut flour.
6. Hazelnut Flour
This is a type of flour that is made from raw hazelnuts. Actually, Hazelnut flour is a type of flour that is another substitute that can be used in recipes instead of the water chestnut. Moreover, the Hazelnut flour, first of all, is a grain-free nut flour which is actually really good for baking.
This is a type of flour that is also gluten-free and it can be used to bread chicken, fish or add it to your smoothie. As a difference from the water chestnut, it contains more fat but it gives a more dense finish product.
How to prepare water chestnuts: recipe ideas
The canned water chestnuts have a different way of preparing as well as the fresh ones, the top and the bottom needs to be cut off. Peeling of the skin is also required and it should rinse in cool water.
Another thing is that they can be peeled off ahead and be stored in cold water in your fridge. Rinse them under warm running water before using them.
Here are some recipe ideas that you can add water chestnuts as a side dish:
- Water chestnut cake
- Chicken lettuce wraps
- Broccoli Beef Lo Mein
- Balsamic Pork Stir-Fry
- Baked spring rolls
Is a chestnut the same as a water chestnut?
Actually, the three chestnuts are picked up and are shiny brown nuts that are developed from catkin flowers. Whereas the water chestnuts are underground stems which are called corms or tubers and they have to be dug up in order to harvest them. So all in all, they are not the same and taste different.
How to cook water chestnuts?
All you have to do is put them in a small bowl and pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Also, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt and ½ tablespoon of black pepper. Stir the mixture until the water chestnuts are seasoned. Spread them over a pan and roast them for an additional 15 minutes.
Do I need to cook water chestnuts?
Freshwater chestnuts can be eaten raw but you have to peel them before eating. Also, if you are using fresh or canned in cooking, add them at the end of your cooking so they can retain the maximum crutch and fit well in the recipe.