The edible corm of a water plant indigenous to Southeast Asia. The water chestnut's brownish-black skin resembles that of a true chestnut, but its flesh is white, crunchy and juicy. The flavor is bland with a hint of sweetness. Water chestnuts are very popular in Asian cooking, especially in stir-fried dishes where their crunchy texture is a standout. Water chestnuts are available fresh in most Chinese markets. Choose firm chestnuts with no sign of soft spots or shriveling. Refrigerate unwashed chesnuts in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks. Wash well and peel before using raw or in cooked dishes. Water chestnuts are also available cannedeither whole or slicedin most supermarkets, but the fresh are superior. See also water chestnut powder.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.