I find water chestnuts to be a very versatile vegetable. These can be peeled and eaten raw, they can be dried and smoked and eaten as well. The green ones can be peeled and eaten in stir-fries as well.
Although these are seasonal delicacies, I don’t find many people buying them or experimenting with these beauties. Believe me, these are as lovely as potatoes. They are crisp, have a bite and basically take up the taste of whatever you put them in. In fact, being seasonally available, these wonders should have recipes dedicated to them at eateries, restaurants that people can actually look forward to in the seasonal menu.
I had a gathering of friends last weekend and decided to make up a quick stir-fry with some of these beauties. I bought a good quantity of them a day in advance and emptied them in a bowl at home, ready to cook the next evening. Turned out, my mom found them and was unaware of my plans for them. She happily gobbled up a good handful before she realised the idea I had, leaving me stuck with quantity just enough to cover my appetizer plan for about 5 people (I was expecting a crowd of about 7 plus my parents on in this). And so, began the “make or ditch” contemplation. Thing is…I really wanted to make this dish as it is one of my all time favourites and is pretty simple to make. Life played nice to me the next day and 2 people from the 7 couldn’t make it to the gathering and I have just the right quantity to serve 5 hungry friends plus leaving some tasting for my parents.
Here’s putting up an incredibly simple and quick recipe for an Asian Inspired Water-Chestnut stir-fry.
Water-Chestnuts in a Sticky spicy-sweet Sauce
Green Water Chestnuts – 500GM
Julienned Ginger – 1 inch piece
Sliced garlic – 5-6 cloves
Thinly sliced Fresh Red chilli – 1
Sliced Green Shallots – 2 to 3
Green leaves of the shallots, chopped finely
Salt to taste
Honey – 1 tablespoon
Soy sauce – 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli Sauce – ½ teaspoon
Tomato Ketchup – 1 teaspoon
Corn starch – ½ teaspoon
Water – 1 tablespoon
Vegetable oil – 2 tablespoons
- Heat the oil in a pan/ wok.
- Add in the ginger and garlic and sauté till the garlic is slightly burnt (Too burnt and it will leave a bitter taste. It has to be just right. If this sounds complicated, just get the garlic to the golden brown stage). Honesly, the burnt garlic is a wondergul
- Add in the onions and sauté till Golden.
- Add in the red chillies and stir for another minute.
- Toss in the water chestnuts to this mix.
- Add in all the sauces, honey and season with salt according to taste.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in water and add this to the mix in the pan. [I missed this step when I made my version but realised that this will work in giving a slightly thick coating of the sauce on the water chestnuts. My friends felt my version needed a bit of thickening up of the gravy..I did have a lot of critics on this cook-out :P]
- Lastly, add in the onion greens and toss quickly.
- Take off the heat and serve in small portions.
These make for a lovely appetizer served in small Chinese tea-cups or even maybe on friend noodle rounds.