What are bamboo shoots?
The creamy colour and subtle, corn-like flavour of bamboo shoots is popular in many Asian cuisines, from Japan to Singapore. Sayur lodeh
, a popular Indonesian and Malaysian dish, is a coconut soup of vegetables and crunchy bamboo shoots infused with spices.
The traditional use of bamboo shoots in cooking spans many centuries. Fermented bamboo shoots are eaten in the Himalayas and a dish consisting of black-eyed beans and pickled bamboo shoots (aloo bodi tama
) is a delicacy served in Nepalese restaurants around the world.
There are various species of bamboo that are harvested for their shoots.
Why bamboo shoots are good to eat
Bamboo shoots contain phytochemicals, which have antibacterial and antiviral effects in the body.
They are a good source of dietary fibre.
Bamboo shoots contain potassium, important for a healthy heart and to maintain normal blood pressure.
Energy – 100 g of raw bamboo shoots supplies about 100 kJ.
How are they grown and harvested?
Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants in the world and can be invasive, so it needs to be contained or it will take over your garden. You can do this by digging a trench and placing a barrier (such as corrugated iron sheeting) below ground.
Bamboo shoots are the young, new shoots that are harvested for food, usually no more than two weeks after they have emerged. You will need a sharp trowel or knife to cut them from the ground.
Choosing bamboo shoots
Edible bamboo shoots are harvested in either winter or spring. The spring shoots are larger and tougher than those harvested in winter. Choose bamboo shoots that are bright, with undamaged leaves. Fresh bamboo shoots are tastier than canned shoots.
How to store and keep bamboo shoots
Store your fresh, unpeeled bamboo shoots in the crisper section of your fridge. They can be kept for about two weeks. If you keep them longer, they may develop a bitter taste.
How to use
- Peel and boil fresh bamboo shoots for 20 minutes before using – raw shoots are bitter and hard to digest.
- Shred fresh bamboo shoots and use in a stir-fry with other vegetables, garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass and coriander leaf.
- Serve bamboo shoots as a side dish with fish or meat – pour a sauce of melted butter, flour and grated cheese over boiled and sliced bamboo shoots, then bake and sprinkle with paprika before serving.
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