We adore water chestnuts for their crunchy and crispy tastes. Despite having the word ‘nut’ in its name, water chestnut is not a type of nut.
It is a vegetable that grows around water bodies like ponds, lakes, marshes, mud, etc. You can eat it raw, cooked, fried, and grind to form flour to make the water chestnut cake.
This crop is native to native Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Despite being unavailable in so many parts of the world, there are other water chestnuts substitutes that you can use where the crop is unavailable. Some of the best substitutes for water chestnuts include turnip, hazelnut flour, etc.
What Are Water Chestnuts?
Water chestnuts are a type of aquatic tuber vegetables that grow around water bodies. It is grass-like and is native to Tropical Africa, Oceania, and Native Asia.
Water chestnuts are round, and on peeling the skin off, the inside is white. Water chestnuts are very rich in moisture and can only thrive in tropical areas. The average water chest contains 74% of water.
Water Chestnuts Substitutes
Luckily, there are many water chestnut substitutes and alternatives out there, and as such, we can use them in place of the water chestnut. They have the same uses and functions as the water chestnut, and they include;
1. Canned water chestnut in place of the fresh ones
The canned water chestnut is usually contained in sealed tins, processed, and manufactured by various companies.
Some of the best sellers of canned water chestnuts are said to be; Sun Luck Sliced Water Chestnuts, KAFKAS Chestnut Candy Fantasy, the Dynasty Whole Water Chestnuts, and so on others.
These canned water chestnuts taste the same as the fresh ones, except that the fresh ones are crunchier.
2. Jerusalem artichoke AKA Sunchoke or Earth Apple
They are a species of sunflower that is native to North America. They are easily accessible and serve as an excellent water chestnut substitute. Just like water chestnuts, they are crunchy, nutty, and delicious.
Turnips are very affordable and serve as an excellent substitute for the water chestnuts. It is easier for people to cultivate turnips than water chestnuts.
As a result of this, turnips are more accessible. Unlike the water chestnuts, you can purchase turnips at grocery stores without any hassle. Turnips are also vegetables, but they are closely associated with crops like potatoes and beets.
4. Hazelnut Flour
Hazelnut flour is a type of flour gotten from the finely ground hazelnut. You can use hazelnut in place of the water chestnut flour for baking.
It is an excellent alternative for the water chestnut flour and almost has the same savory taste.
5. Jicama Slices
Jicama is also known as Yam-bean; it is grown in the Caribbean, South Asia, Central American, and some Andean South American regions.
It belongs to the potato family and looks similar to a large radish or a turnip. The Jicama nut is a tropical plant. Just like the water chestnut, it has a nutty as well as a juicy taste.
6. Almond Flour
Unlike Water chestnuts, Almonds are a type of nut. These nuts are primarily produced in the United States of America, even though they are native to Asia.
They have so many health benefits and contain Vitamin E, Fiber, Protein, etc. You can purchase them raw or roasted. And in most cases, they are finely ground into the form of flour.
Different Ways To Serve The Water Chestnuts
It would be best to cut the water chestnuts from the top and bottom in their fresh form. After that, you peel the skin before washing and slicing them.
They are often either sliced, diced, or grated. You can serve water chestnuts and their substitutes in the following ways:
- With creamy asparagus soup
- With Stir-fried snow peas
- As baked spring rolls
- As water chestnut cake
- With Spinach Salad
- As stuffing etc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are Water Chestnuts called Chestnuts?
The name comes from the fact that it is nut-like in shape, even though it is more rounded. And just like nuts, the water chestnut is brownish. It is essential to note that even though they are called chestnuts, they are not a type of nut.
What are the differences between Water Chestnut and Chestnuts?
Even though they have similar names, you can substitute water chestnuts for chestnuts. Chestnuts are a type of nuts encased in spiky porcupine-like capsules.
The capsules usually have up to 7 nuts inside of them. The water chestnut is not a nut; it is a tuber vegetable.
Can Water Chestnuts be eaten raw?
It is safe to eat water chestnuts raw; however, most people go with cooking it instead. Before cooking a water chestnut, it is essential to remember to peel off the brown outer skin.
However, if you decide to roast it instead, do so with the skin on it. After roasting, you peel off the skin. Water chestnuts can be boiled, sauteed, fried, grilled, etc. It is a versatile meal.
Are Water Chestnuts healthy?
Water chestnuts have high nutritional value. They contain antioxidants and potassium, and as a result, reduces the risk of stroke and high blood pressure. The crop also contains Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Copper, Protein, Fiber, etc.
Do I need to cook canned Water Chestnuts?
You can cook canned water chestnut or eat it raw, depending on how you want it. However, it would be best to stir fry the canned water chestnuts for not more than two minutes or lose their crispiness and crunch.
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Water chestnuts are irreplaceable; however, there are significant water chestnuts substitutes, as explained above. The list of water chestnut substitutes ranges from other aquatic tuber vegetables like the Jicama slices.
Some of the other alternatives are hazelnuts and almond nuts, which can be ground into the floor and used for baking. Whichever fits your taste, you can take a pick from the list.