Going Nuts Over Chestnuts
A famous Christmas holiday song. But did you know when chestnuts are literally roasted on an open fire, it will…explode. So unless you have proper roasting equipment with a cover, you might be subjected to an interesting experience of what being bombed (in the face) by a handful of hot searing chestnuts would be like.
Nevertheless, roasted chestnuts are delicious and should not be eaten only during the Christmas season. There are four main types of chestnuts trees being cultivated worldwide and native to hilly forests of Europe, US, Japan and China. The ones we see roasting on the street side in Asia are typically from China.
Chestnuts, unlike other nuts, contain less fat and are lower in calories. They are rich in minerals, vitamins and phyto-nutrients (nutrients derived from plant material that have been shown to be necessary for sustaining human life) that benefit overall health.
What’s So Great About Chestnuts?
* Good source of dietary fibre – to lower blood cholesterol.
* Only nut that is exceptionally rich in Vitamin C and A – strong antioxidant to prevent free radical damage.
* Rich in folate acids – required for the formation of red blood cells.
* Rich source of mono-unsaturated fats that lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol levels in blood.
* Rich in minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium – to counter hypertension, lower heart rate and blood pressure.
In Singapore (and most parts of Asia), roasted chestnuts are typically sold by a street vendor, and who can be seen roasting fresh chestnuts in a large open wok mixed with sand. Sand, being an excellent conductor of heat, is moisten with maltose and tea-sea oil. When roasted, the sand turns into a black-charred state. This also gives a beautiful flavor and aroma to the nuts.
Chestnuts in their original form. They look like hardened and rotten rambutans.
If you have never tried roasted chestnuts, they taste a lot like sweet potatoes. Usually eaten warm, they have a solid yet crumbly texture with a butter sweet flavor.
For $5 per 1/2kg of freshly roasted chestnuts sold all year round in Chinatown, grab a bag and your red blood cells will thank you for it.