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July 13, 2007

Fresh Bamboo Shoots

So, I had a go at cooking a fresh bamboo shoot today. I've heard it said by those in the know that fresh bamboo shoots are incomparably superior to the canned ones. So I picked one up at 99 Ranch, and consulted A Cook's Guide to Asian Vegetables on how to cook it.

A bamboo shoot is a vaguely conical thing covered in a husk of tough outer leaves. I peeled off as many leaves as I could remove with my fingers, and removed the rest with a paring knife.

The book recommended placing the bamboo shoot whole in a saucepan, covering it with water, and bringing it to a boil. Then you drain off the water, cover it with fresh water, and repeat the whole procedure two more times. This apparently removes the hydrocyanic acid that makes the bamboo shoot bitter. Then you cover with water for a final time, and simmer "until the shoot is tender". I simmered the shoot for an additional ten minutes, and then sliced it up and added it to a stir fry for the last couple minutes of cooking. (The other ingredients of the stir fry were shiitake mushrooms, red bell pepper, firm tofu, snow peas, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil.)

Is it incomparably better than canned bamboo shoots? I don't know about that. The texture is nicer - the bamboo shoot retains a bit of a crunch, in a way that's almost similar to water chestnuts. The flavor is still very mild. I don't think I'll feel at all bad in the future about using canned bamboo shoots if I'm pressed for time, or if they're all I have handy, but preparing the fresh shoot is easy enough that I'll probably do it again the next time I plan on a stir fry.

Posted by spaceling at July 13, 2007 09:18 PM


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