water chestnut

A water chestnut is a Chinese vegetable that's commonly used in stir fries. That crisp, pale, mild-tasting morsel you picked up with your chopsticks is probably a water chestnut.

There are at least two different plants that are referred to as water chestnuts — and confusingly, both are frequently used by Chinese cooks. Neither is actually a nut, but one, also called a "water caltrop," is a seed. The water chestnut that's most familiar to North American fans of Chinese food has the Latin name eleocharis dulcis, and it's the white vegetable that stays crunchy even when cooked or canned.

Definitions of water chestnut
  1. noun
    Chinese sedge yielding edible bulb-shaped tubers
    synonyms: Chinese water chestnut, Eleocharis dulcis
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    type of:
    spike rush
    a sedge of the genus Eleocharis
  2. noun
    edible bulbous tuber of a Chinese marsh plant
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    type of:
    a fleshy underground stem or root serving for reproductive and food storage
  3. noun
    a plant of the genus Trapa bearing spiny four-pronged edible nutlike fruits
    synonyms: caltrop, water chestnut plant
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    Jesuits' nut, Trapa natans, water caltrop
    a variety of water chestnut
    Trapa bicornis, ling, ling ko
    water chestnut whose spiny fruit has two rather than 4 prongs
    type of:
    aquatic plant, hydrophyte, hydrophytic plant, water plant
    a plant that grows partly or wholly in water whether rooted in the mud, as a lotus, or floating without anchorage, as the water hyacinth
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