Water chestnuts are crunchy and light-sweet in taste; therefore, they are reliable ingredients for so many Chinese cuisines. Moreover, they are also a prominent part of the classic bacon appetizer. If you want to up the taste of your vegetable side dish, don’t forget to add the sliced water chestnuts.
If you love crispy and crunchy tastes in your food, then for sure you must keep your chestnuts in your kitchens, but in many areas, it is hard to find the water chestnuts in the grocery store, particularly in American grocery stores.
So what is the solution to deal with this situation? Should you skip this ingredient in the recipe? No, Chinese stir fry lovers cannot even think of this.
Wait, no need to worry! To deal with this annoying situation, we have compiled the 7 best water chestnut substitutes list. So, if you are longing to try the new recipes or want to add these crispy corms to your favorite recipes, our water chestnut alternatives are ready to serve you.
So let’s explore them!
What is Water Chestnut?
Water Chestnuts are aquatic tuber vegetables that are similar to potatoes and grow in Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia, and many Pacific Islands. It resembles an actual chestnut in both shape and color, but it is not a nut. Water Chestnuts contain a variety of potential health benefits, and they are famous in many cuisines.
Water Chestnuts (also known as the Chinese water chestnut) are primarily used in Chinese recipes, and they are rewarded for their exquisite crunch. Water Chestnuts and chestnuts are not related to each other, and their names come from their appearance where they grow when they are first taken out of the water.
Water Chestnuts and Chestnuts have almost the same size, and they are covered with a thin skin of brown color; therefore, they both look similar. Water Chestnuts are delicious, but you always do not find these in your local grocery store.
Now, let’s move toward the “7 Best Water Chestnuts Substitutes”.
7 Best Substitutes of Water Chestnut
If you don’t find Water Chestnuts at your place, then you can use their alternatives. There are many substitutions of Water Chestnuts such as Turnips, Jerusalem Artichokes, Bamboo Shoots, and others.
Let’s get into the details of Substitutes for Water Chestnuts!
1: Canned Water Chestnuts
Canned Water Chestnuts have a pretty similar texture to fresh ones, but the flavor of canned water chestnuts is more blended than the fresh ones. If you include the freshwater chestnuts for texture mainly in a dish, then canned versions of water chestnuts will be the best alternative.
You will find two different versions of canned water chestnuts in the market; the first one is whole, and the other one is sliced. However, the whole version is recommended because it has a crunchier texture than the sliced one.
Water chestnuts contain high levels of ferulic acid; therefore, canned and cooked water chestnuts remain crispy and can easily be used at their place. When you have opened the can of water chestnuts, it is preferred to use it within a few days. Change their water daily if it is possible for you and keep them at some cool place.
If you have a sliced version of canned water chestnuts, then fry them for more than 2 minutes. If these canned water chestnuts are added at the end of cooking, they will not lose their crunchiness. Boiling water chestnuts will give you a smooth texture for purees and soups, and an oven is another way to bring out the full flavor of water chestnuts.
Turnips are available all year in the grocery stores, and it is one of the cheapest alternatives of water chestnuts. This vegetable was cultured in the temperate climate in ancient times, and turnips were associated with beets and potatoes.
Choosing white turnips instead of other varieties is recommended because turnips do not have a strong pepper flavor. The turnip flavor is mild, and it can go with many other flavors in Asian cooking, where water chestnuts are famous.
Avoid the large turnips because they may have a bitter taste, and buy the turnips under the size of 3 inches in diameter with the crisp, and their green leaves are still attached. In the grocery store, look for the turnips that are smooth without blemishes and cracks.
To use turnips as a substitute for water chestnuts, slice them and add some oil and water; add the salt before cooking them until they get soft. Other ways to prepare dishes with turnips are roast turnips, turnip potato puree, glazed turnips, and turnip gratins.
3: Jerusalem Artichokes
Sometimes Jerusalem Artichokes are called sunchokes, and they are not related to Artichokes because they belong to the sunflower family. Jerusalem Artichokes grow underground, and when they are cooked, they get soft, and their taste turns into a mild artichoke heart. The shape of Jerusalem Artichokes is quite similar to ginger root.
Jerusalem Artichokes is the best replacement for water chestnuts; it is best to prepare them raw to use as an alternative, and it can be used in the same amount as water chestnuts are. Jerusalem Artichokes can be blended into a sliced, fried or soup, etc.
It depends on you to peel off the skin with the vegetable peeler or sharp knife, and you can leave it, and you can also eat them raw to enjoy the freshness and the texture. When you eat Jerusalem Artichokes in large amounts, it will take you far because they contain insulin (a form of starch) that is hard to digest, therefore eat small amounts of them.
Jicama is another substitute for water chestnuts, and it is famous for its sweet juicy taste and crunchy texture. It has a golden brown thin skin with white flesh and contains a high starch content. Jicama is low in sugar, but its raw form has a sweet taste, and it is a root vegetable.
Jicama is the best choice for those who have diabetes and want to lose weight, and when the slices of Jicama are cooked, the sweetness gets blended with the other ingredients. They are used chiefly in Asian Dishes. It is recommended to simmer Jicama when you are using it in place of water chestnuts.
It is an excellent substitute in the form of texture, color, and taste; it is better than the Jerusalem Artichokes in dishes that are served hot because it holds the texture longer.
5: Bamboo Shoots
Bamboo shoot is another substitute for water chestnuts because it is similar in crunch and crispiness. The taste of Bamboo Shoots is pretty different as they have a bitter and fibrous taste, but this substitution works just for some Asian dishes.
It would help if you cook Bamboo shoots properly because they contain toxins that produce cyanide in the gut; otherwise, you can face several health issues.
If your dessert is calling for water chestnuts and you don’t have them, then you can use Pecans because they can add a nutty richness to your dessert. The flavor of Pecans blends with other ingredients such as vanilla, caramel, maple, etc.
Pecans contain a firm texture compared to water chestnuts, and they are not just all-rounded but also rich in nutrients. Tons of proteins, healthy fats, and fiber are included in the raw Pecans that help to keep energized and satisfied.
They also contain calcium, magnesium, and potassium which help to lower your blood pressure. If you want to add pecans to your recipe, you must toast them first because this enhances their flavor and aroma.
Celery is not an excellent alternative for the water chestnuts in flavor and color, but it is available at every grocery store. Water chestnuts are used in small amounts for some recipes to give some crunch and form a dish.
Using the lower portion of the stalks is better if you use Celery as an alternative for Water Chestnuts. While cooking, Celery will get softer, but that’s fine. It will also be helpful to dice or slice the Celery fine and add it when your dish is about to finish.
When you are using Celery as a substitute for Water Chestnuts, then slice Celery crosswise instead of lengthwise. Celery has tough fibers that run the length of each rib, and if you cut Celery crosswise, this fiber will cut into small sections that will be less remarkable.
Benefits of Water Chestnuts
Water Chestnuts have several benefits and use, such as they contain high amounts of disease-fighting antioxidants, reduce the risks of heart disease, promote weight loss, etc.
Let’s get into details about the benefits of Water Chestnuts.
● Nutritious Yet Low in Calories
Water Chestnuts are full of nutritional facts, a 3.5 ounces of raw Water Chestnuts offers;
|Protein||2 of the RDI|
|Potassium||17% of the RDI|
|Manganese||17% of the RDI|
|Copper||16% of the RDI|
|Vitamin B6||16% of the RDI|
|Riboflavin||12% of the RDI|
Water Chestnut contains a high amount of fiber and 12% daily fiber recommendation for women and 8% for men. Eating plenty of fiber helps to promote bowel movements and also reduces cholesterol levels. Most of the calories are carbs in the Water Chestnuts.
● Contains High Amounts of Disease Fighting Antioxidants
Antioxidants help to protect the body against potentially harmful free radicals. Water Chestnuts are rich in gallocatechin gallate, epicatechin gallate, catechin gallate, and ferulic acid. These antioxidants fight against chronic diseases such as heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and many types of cancer.
● Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease and Lower Blood Pressure
Some risk factors such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol (LDL cholesterol), strokes, and high blood triglycerides increase the risks for heart diseases. Water Chestnuts have been used historically to treat the risk factors such as blood pressure etc. Potassium in Water Chestnuts reduces the risks of heart stroke and high blood pressure.
● Promote Weight Loss
Water chestnuts are high-volume foods, and high-volume foods contain a lot of air and water; both are calorie-free. Water Chestnuts are made up of 74% water, and if you struggle, then exchanging your current source of carbs for water chestnuts may help you stay full for a long time while consuming a few calories.
● Fight Against the Growth of Cancer
Ferulic acid antioxidants ensure that the flesh of water chestnuts remains crunchy. In a test tube study, scientists showed that treating the breast cancer cells with ferulic acid helped suppress the growth of cells and promote their death.
Frequently Asked Questions
● Can I Use Chestnuts in Place of Water Chestnuts?
Regular Chestnuts and Water Chestnuts look similar, but they are different from each other. They have a more delicate crunch. Water Chestnuts have a more subtle flavor, and it is usually described as a mild taste rather than nutty.
For most of the recipes that include Water Chestnuts, regular Chestnuts will not be a good alternative. The result of the dish will be over-crunchy and over-powering nutty in taste.
● What Can I Substitute for Water Chestnuts Flour?
There are two alternatives of Water Chestnut Flour;
● Almond Flour
Almond Flour is a good substitute for Water Chestnut Flour in recipes that call for water chestnut flour. Almond flour contains higher protein contents than water chestnut flour. Water Chestnut flour is used to make bread during religious fasts in some countries because Cereals such as wheat for this purpose are prohibited.
Almond is not at all a Crerele; if you use Water Chestnut Flour for this reason, then you can replace it with Almond Flour.
● Hazelnut Flour
People use Hazelnut flour both in sweet and savory dishes in Northern Italian Cuisine. Hazelnut flour resembles the taste and texture of Water Chestnut flour. High levels of minerals such as magnesium, iron, manganese, and Vitamins are included in Hazelnut flour.
If you want to store the Hazelnut flour for a long time, store it in a sealed bag in the freezer, especially in warm months. You can use them as a substitute for water chestnut flour after blending and chopping them with a food processor.
● Are Canned Water Chestnuts Just as Good as Fresh?
Yes, canned water chestnuts are suitable as fresh ones because it is hard to find fresh ones, but if you find the fresh ones, it will require peeling, which will be an unwanted extra step in the procedure of cooking.
If your recipe calls for water chestnuts, it is not specified that they are canned or fresh. It is because the canned water chestnuts do not affect the texture, color, and taste of water chestnuts.
● What is the Difference Between Chestnuts and Water Chestnuts?
Chestnuts are nuts that grow on the trees, and they have a firm texture and a nutty flavor. In wintertime, they are served roasted traditionally as the roasting process brings out their flavor.
While Water Chestnuts are aquatic vegetables, the part used in the recipes is a tuber, similar to a potato. Water Chestnuts are softer than nuts and mild in flavor; their names come from their similar appearance when they are harvested.
● How to Store Water Chestnuts?
Usually, it is hard to find Water Chestnuts but if luckily you find them in significant amounts, then store them for prolonged use properly. If you do not need Water Chestnuts for immediate use, don’t peel the fresh Water Chestnuts.
Keep them in the freezer unpeeled and soak them in the water if it is possible to preserve crisp texture.
● Where Can You Buy Water Chestnuts?
In Europe and the US, containers of freshwater chestnuts are available in Asian markets such as New York City’s Chinatown. They are mostly imported from Asia, and you should select firm water chestnuts by squeezing each of them.
● What are Different Ways to Serve the Water Chestnuts
The better way is to cut the water chestnut from its top and bottom. After cutting, peel its skin and then get it washed and sliced.
You can enjoy the water chestnuts in different forms: grated, sliced, and diced. The following are the common yet unique ways that you can try to serve water chestnuts:
- Serve with creamy asparagus soup
- As water chestnut cake
- Add in Stir-fried snow peas
- Use in Spinach Salad
- As baked spring rolls
- Use it for stuffing different foods, and so on
If you are struggling with hunger, you can switch your carb source to the water chestnut; it will help you stay full for longer; these water chestnuts contain 74% water but are still considered a high-volume food.
Additionally, many water chestnut lovers also add this ingredient into various recipes to lift up the taste of their dishes. But sadly, water chestnuts are not available in abundant quantities everywhere, so maintaining the same taste of the dish becomes challenging due to this water chestnut scarcity.
Thus, this article covers the 7 best water chestnut substitutes that can deliver the same crunchiness, taste, and aroma. So you can also try any of these alternatives and make whatever you want.
From now on, this tiny ingredient will not become a barrier of your cooking,