Fat choy (Nostoc flagelliforme), also known as faat choy, fa cai, black moss, hair moss or hair weed is a terrestrial cyanobacterium (a type of photosynthetic bacteria) that is used as a vegetable in Chinese cuisine. When dried, the product has the appearance of black hair. For that reason, its name in Chinese means "hair vegetable." When soaked, this vegetable has a very soft texture which is like very fine vermicelli.
Fat choy grows on the ground in the Gobi Desert and the Qinghai Plateau. Over-harvesting on the Mongolian steppes has furthered erosion and desertification in those areas. The Chinese government has limited its harvesting, which has caused its price to increase. This may be one reason why some commercially available fat choy has been found to be adulterated with strands of a non-cellular starchy material, with other additives and dyes. Real fat choy is dark green in color, while the counterfeit fat choy appears black.
The last two syllables of this name in Cantonese sound the same as another Cantonese saying meaning "struck it rich" (though the second syllable, coi, has a different tone) -- this is found, for example, in the Cantonese saying, "Gung1 hei2 faat3 coi4" (恭喜發財, meaning "wishing you prosperity"), which is often proclaimed during Chinese New Year. For that reason, this product is a popular ingredient in dishes used for the Chinese New Year. It is enjoyed as an alternative to cellophane noodles. It is mostly used in Cantonese cuisine and Buddhist cuisine. It is sometimes used as a hot pot ingredient.
Fat choy is also used in Vietnamese cuisine. It is called tóc tiên or tóc thiên (literally "angel's hair") in Vietnamese.
A research team from the biochemistry department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said that international research has shown that Fat choy, besides having no nutritional value, has also been found to contain Beta-methylamino L-alanine (BMAA), a toxic amino acid that could affect the normal functions of nerve cells. Professor Chan King-ming of the team told the media that eating Fat choy could lead to degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and dementia.
There is also a study by Takenaka which shows no significant difference between laboratory rats fed Nostoc flagelliforme and the control group (Source 2).
Notes and references
- But, Paul Pui-Hay; Ling Cheng; Pui Kwan Chan; David Tai-Wai Lau; and Joyce Wing-Hin But (2002). "Nostoc flagelliforme and Faked Items Retailed in Hong Kong." Journal of Applied Phycology 14: 143-145.
- Takenaka, H., Yamaguchi, Y., Sakaki, S., Watarai, K., Tanaka, N., Hori, M., Seki, H., M. Tsuchida, M., Yamada, A., Nishimori, T., and Morinaga, T. "Safety evaluation of Nostoc flagelliforme (nostocales, cyanophyceae) as a potential food". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 1998. Volume 36, Issue 12. Pages 1073-1077.
Wed, 26 Mar 2014 14:11:15 -0700
Finally he got his chance to really take on cooking his favorite dishes including bao, fried rice, bone marrow and more with his beloved Fat Choy inside the Eureka, which just celebrated its first year in business. Here, he shares where he likes to ...
Gazette & Herald
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 03:23:05 -0700
The nap vote is awarded to Kung Hei Fat Choy at Southwell's Flat meeting. Trained by James Given, the five-year-old has won three times on this course, the latest coming on his penultimate start over six furlongs. He has since gone down narrowly in ...
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:03:45 -0700
Local restaurants and breweries have partnered to create complex, beer-infused menus with highlights including dishes from Naked City Pizza, Desnudo Tacos, The Goodwich, Brooklyn Bowl, Stack, Fat Choy, Echo & Rig, Lulu's Bread and Breakfast and Chef ...
The Guardian (blog)
The Guardian (blog)
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 02:44:29 -0700
Kung Hei Fat Choy (4.30) is lightly raced for an all-weather stalwart at this time of the year, having been out only twice in 2014. He has the form and weight to win an interesting handicap later on the card. Join The Clan (2.30) could be the answer to ...
Thu, 03 Apr 2014 10:03:45 -0700
Oct. 3: Added: Andrea's, Sweets Raku; Deleted: Fat Choy. Nov. 5: Added Buddy V's Ristorante, Pizza Rock, Settebello. Dec. 5: Added: Container Park, MTO Cafe. Jan. 2: Added: B&B Burger & Beer, Crush, Jayde Fuzion; Deleted: Hops & Harvest, Press, Viva ...
Mon, 07 Apr 2014 11:00:00 -0700
The signature twice-fried chicken is as good as ever while eggplant, pork shoulder, and crispy duck served with bao all served notice that Fat Choy is no longer the only game in town." Granted, Yusho is not technically open, but Uzmann predicts that ...
New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Mon, 24 Mar 2014 01:26:15 -0700
xxxxxx Small boy covers ears against noise as firecrackers pop on Mott St. Chinatown for Gung hay fat choy (Happy New Year) - 1984. Chinese. New Year. Turning deaf ears to awful noise. Manhattan: I grew up in a small town in West Virginia near the ...
Fri, 21 Mar 2014 18:30:00 -0700
FASHION FIRST: Hats off to Jamal Abdourahman, who seldom doffs his own mini fedora. He's the Djibouti-born 52-year-old who launched Vancouver International Fashion Week in 2001 with then-Vancouver Sun fashion contributor Jeanne Beker as MC.
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