Monday, January 4, 2010

Bat Nuts

My pal Seth (a well-respected Northwest acupuncturist) gave me a couple of "Bat Nuts" a few years ago. "Bat Nuts," aka "Devil Pods," are the seed pods of Trapa bicornis, an aquatic Asian plant. The Chinese call them lingjiao (菱角) and consider them a lucky food because they resemble bats. Bats are lucky because the word for bat, fu (蝠) sounds just like the word for fourtune, fu (福).



Despite their demonic appearance, many people enjoy roasting or boiling bat nuts and eating them like chestnuts... but I thought these two were just too cool to eat so I'm keeping them around for show and tell.

11 comments:

Bret said...

So thats what those things are. Ive seen those several times at local Asian markets and wondered what in the hell they were.

Maitre_Tea said...

hey!

I've seen those before...when I was traveling around southern China. Wait, Bret, you find them in the Asian markets there...because I haven't seen them around here, and I live in freaking Southern California!

Bret said...

Yeah I do. There is an Asian Market about a block away from my house and from time to time Ive seen boxes of these things. I knew that they were somehow edible because they are kept by the bulk foods, garlic, dry shrooms etc. I have picked them up several times and looked and wondered what they were. In Austin there are very large Asian comunities.

Jon Gee said...

trippy!!

Cinnabar said...

You've just given me a new quest. I must find some of these.

Marlena said...

Oh wow, cool they are, have you any idea what they taste like and how big are they?

Brett said...

Marlena - I don't know what they taste like, but I'd sure like to try them, so if I ever see them on sale here in Seattle I'll definitely buy some to eat.

They are both around 2.5 inches long and about 1 inch top to bottom.

Seth P. said...

I found them in the Autumn in Shanghai, and also at the Central Market up in north Seattle. Probably easier to check at the Central Market. They taste kind of coconutty, and may go by the name "water caltrops." They remind me of the skull logo that Danzig used on their albums and t-shirts. Or, they could be the armored breast plates for a miniature army of the damned.

Charles said...

They're rather tasty when bought in the night market from a roaster. I always thought they tasted rather like a warm Brazil nut. I do know that eating a whole bag of them can give you a tummy upset--they're rather rich. (Some people say that uncooked/steamed, the "nut" contains toxins and should never be consumed raw).

Now for the confusing part.

Trapa bicornis is a species of the water chestnut family. The USDA calls them "horned nuts" but notes that other states call them water chestnuts. They are also called "water caltrops."

Trapa natans L is what is officially known as water chestnut. It too is known as "water caltrop."

However, apparently neither of these are what we encounter when we order chicken with water chestnuts at our local Chinese diner. That water chestnut is Eleocharis dulcis which the USDA calls the "Chinese water chestnut."

Regardless of the nomenclature--they are tasty.

Charles said...

Oh, I should've said the importance of knowing they're water caltrops is that Chinese poetry is filled with references to them.

Phronima said...

Charles, which chinese poetry made reference to water caltrops? I'd be interested to know..