December 13, 2017

Sibu Tales : Water Chestnut

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Fresh water chestnuts in Miri

Years ago it was hard to get fresh water chestnuts in the market in Sibu. Usually mothers would desperately look for water chestnuts for their children who just had measles. The best TCM "cooling antidote" for after measles is water chestnut juices.

In those olden days, the blender or juicer was not yet in the market. So at home, the hardworking mother would crush small chopped pieces water chestnuts with a mortar and pestle and then use a handkerchief to squeeze out the juice.

And naturally it would have been too pricey for the poor to buy fresh water chestnuts to make juices for their sick children. Well you see, most siblings would get measles at the same time and it would be hard time for the mother.

However the wise women would be able to find other means of cooling down their children. Fresh coconut water, sugar cane juice would be the alternatives.

There was even a common comment that when fresh water chestnuts appear in the market, measles was in the air!!

Fresh water chestnut is a delicacy for the Foochows. It is a good ingredient for the making of meat rolls, and when a mother wants to prepare a good minced pork dish, a few water chestnuts, chopped fairly well would give the minced pork a bit of crunchy texture.

One of my best memories of my second sister's knife skill and patience was the way she peeled water chestnuts for our maternal grandmother. She was so meticulous and fine in her work, even when she was only in her teens.

Those who often have ulcers can eat a few fresh water chestnuts after a meal, treating them like fruits.

Today in some places water chestnut juices are available in packet form.

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