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 .
Notes and references
- ^ ijs.sgmjournals.org
- ^ a b c The standard.com.hk
- ^ Waynesword
- ^ 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.
- 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.
Las Vegas Review-Journal (blog)
Thu, 23 Jan 2014 23:24:53 -0800
They give you a lot of napkins when you sit down at Fat Choy. They know you're going to need them. That's especially true if you try the restaurant's signature “snacks,” the Peking Duck Bao ($7) and the Pork Belly Bao ($7), and it would be a mistake ...
Fri, 31 Jan 2014 13:01:08 -0800
January 31, 2014, marks the first day of the 15-day-long Chinese Lunar New Year celebration, and we would like to wish our Asian neighbors a hearty gung hay fat choy! It's the year of the horse, a symbol of energy, warmth, intelligence and ability ...
Sat, 01 Feb 2014 13:16:22 -0800
One of our uniquely Filipino traits is our passion for celebration. Every town has its own fiesta for its patron saint. One of the biggest and most festive of these is Cebu's Sinulog festival in honor of the Sto. Niño. “Pit Senyor!” is the cry of the ...
Wed, 29 Jan 2014 11:41:15 -0800
Canadore is marking the Year of the Horse at its Chinese New Year celebration on Friday. Close to 180 students and guests will commemorate China's most important holiday over the course of an evening with delicious food, traditional well-wishes ...
Mon, 27 Jan 2014 11:18:45 -0800
Two cultures collided for one big celebration at South Arm Community Centre's first ever Gung Haggis Fat Choy event, last Friday. Gung Haggis Fat Choy is the celebration of Robbie Burns Day and Chinese New Year. “I think it is important to learn more ...
Hawaii Public Radio-HPR2
Fri, 24 Jan 2014 07:12:39 -0800
Chinatown is ablaze in red and gold right now in observance of the Chinese New Year. Gold is a symbol of power, while red symbolizes happiness and good wishes will be flowing this weekend at Honolulu's big celebration. HPR's Noe Tanigawa found that ...
Las Vegas Weekly (blog)
Wed, 20 Feb 2013 14:20:59 -0800
Don't visit Fat Choy without trying an order of Grandma's potsickers ($6), maybe the best in the Valley. The wrappers are made fresh daily, and Su manages to pan sear them to a perfect crisp, the crunchy outer shell giving way to a moist pork and chive ...
West End Extra
West End Extra
Fri, 31 Jan 2014 07:00:00 -0800
THE life of a Chinese professor who founded the first Chinese medicinal clinic in the country will be remembered at a New Year celebration held in his honour this week. Professor Man Fong Mei, 67 – also known as Benny Mei – died from sudden heart ...
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