The water chestnut is actually not a nut at all, but an aquatic vegetable that grows in marshes.
The name "water chestnut" comes from the fact that it resembles a chestnut in shape and coloring. Indigenous to Southeast Asia, it has been cultivated in China since ancient times.
Water chestnuts require a long frost-free growing season (7 months) which means that they are only grown in semi-tropical areas, including a few States such as here in California and Florida. I can readily find fresh water chestnuts in most Asian markets here in the San Francisco Bay Area year round.
Once you have tasted a fresh water chestnut with it's sweet crispness you will never use the starch ad "tinny" canned water chestnuts again.
To earn more and see photographs of water chestnuts growing please visit my blog:
4 cups Vegetable or peanut oil for frying
1 1/2 cups fresh Shiitake mushrooms
10 large sea scallops, (U 10) 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
Sea Salt and ground pepper to taste 1/3 cup Date Palm Sugar
1 cup Cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoon Ginger, julienned
6 Thai Dragon chiles 1 bunch Thai sweet basil (bai Horpha)
10 fresh Water chestnuts 1 bunch Cilantro
4 green onions, cut on the bias 2" length
1 Asian Cucumber, thinly sliced
To make chile flowers, hold chile by stem, with sissors slit into quarters but not through the stem. Carefully remove seeds using pointed knife. Place in ice cold water with ice cubes for 20 minutes. The chiles will curl forming flowers.
Heat a large wok heat over medium high heat, add oil, heat until almost the smoking point.
Season the scallops with salt and pepper and dredge in cornstarch.
Add to the oil and fry until golden brown on all sides.
Remove scallops and drain on paper toweling.
Add chiles, water chestnuts, green onions, and shiitaki mushrooms.
Stir-fry until almost done.
Add the rice wine vinegar, date palm sugar and ginger.
Stir-fry to incorporate ingredients.
Plate on large white plates.
Garnish with Thai basil, cilantro and cucumber slices, and chile flowers.