I love bamboos for their beauty, physical features and as food. They are native to the tropical regions of the world including southeast Asia. Bamboos play a significant role in many aspects of life, as a natural raw material that is used for a wide range of applications from timber, through kitchenware to handcrafts. The hollow bamboo sections are also used as natural cooking vessels and Thais stuff them with ingredients such as rice, vegetables and meat and place them directly over a flame to steam or roast the filling.
As a food source it is the young bamboo shoots that are eaten. The young shoots need to be picked just as they sprout while the developing stem is still relatively soft, as a few days old shoots would turn woody and inedible. The shoots contain natural toxins that can be lethal, but are destroyed when boiled in water. I boil them for an hour.
Prepared bamboo shoots are used as a vegetable in variety of dishes including curries, stir-fries, soups and salads and some recipes call for pickled bamboo shoots. Although bamboo shoots are sold canned, I prefer the buy them fresh as they taste better and are in their natural form with no preservatives.
The method I use to prepare fresh bamboo shoots:
- Trim off a thin cross section from the bottom of the bamboo shoot cone.
- Cut the shoot in half lengthwise.
- Separate the sheaths from the stem.
- Cut each half into wedges lengthwise.
- Boil plenty of water and cook the wedges for an hour.
- Drain the water and let cool.