Fresh Bamboo Shoots

Fresh bamboo shoots

Today’s blog is about a subject I know very little about. You may be thinking, and rightly so, why is she writing about something she knows nothing about?????

Well, few days ago, I was the lucky recipient of 6½ pounds of edible fresh bamboo shoots. I have eaten fresh bamboo shoots before but this is the first time I am preparing it from scratch. Having no knowledge about the preparation I went online and followed the preparation recommended by Washington State University Cooperative Extension. To visit the site, click hereI liked the taste and crunchy texture of the cooked shoots.

Wanting to learn more, I googled fresh bamboo shoots, and happened upon an NBR article stating that dried rice bran powder should be added to the cooking water. According to the article “The starchy oils in the rice bran neutralize hydrocyanic acid, the toxin found in most bamboo shoots.”  To read the entire article click here. Well, I did not add dried rice bran powder to the cooking water and I ate the bamboo shoots. Oh my, am I going to get sick? How sick? The good news is I am at my computer writing this post. I did not get sick.

Now back to why I am writing about a subject I know very little about. After reading the above-mentioned 2 articles and others, I am wondering what is truly the safe and correct method of preparing fresh bamboo shoots?????? Are all bamboo shoots edible????? I am throwing these questions out into the blogging world and hoping others will weigh in and we can all learn together.

The fresh bamboo shoots I received are the skinny kind, about ¾ – 1 inch in diameter at the base. Peeling is a tedious and labour intensive process and lots of waste (while I was peeling could not help but compare it to preparing artichoke) after 2+ hours of peeling I had about 2 pounds of edible shoots.

Following are the peeling instructions I received from my friend.

Cut off about 2 inches from the tip of each shoot, above photo.

Next split the shoot down the middle starting at the cut off tip (my friend used a cleaver, I found a sturdy paring knife was easier) right photo.
If you want round shoots peel without splitting (starting at the base, it will take longer to peel).

Peel away the outer sheaths (leaves), I start at the base and work my way towards the tip.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Wash and drain peeled shoots. Add to pot (making sure shoots are completely submerged). Boil, uncovered, for 20 – 25 minutes.

Drain and rinse. Use in recipes calling for bamboo shoots. If not using right away, place in a container, cover with cold water and refrigerate, changing water daily, will keep for 3 – 4 days. Freeze for longer storage.

Bamboo shoot is the edible new growth of the bamboo plant (a member of the grass family).

NOTE: The preparations stated above are for the skinny bamboo shoots I was given, preparations for the larger shoots may be different.

Copyright © by Norma Chang

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About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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53 Responses to Fresh Bamboo Shoots

  1. Very informative. I love bamboo shoots. Glad you didn’t get sick!

  2. Daphne says:

    We put in bamboo in a very shady spot where nothing else will grow well. I was hoping that they would be edible, but the grower said no. Too bad. But there aren’t a lot of clumping bamboos that will grow here and have the habit we want, so we are stuck with the inedible.

  3. cocomino says:

    Very interesting. I visited a mountain to gather bamboo shoots recently. The taste was really delicious.

    http://cocomino.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/gathering-bamboo-shoots/

  4. What an exotic ingredient, presentation piece and general plant my friend :D
    Thanks for sharing so much about it!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  5. I wish I could help, Norma. I’ve only even seen bamboo shoots in the can and in Chinese restaurants. Perhaps try Googling Ming Tsai or Martin Chan and fresh bamboo shoots to see if they give preparation techniques.

  6. wok with ray says:

    I’ve never had fresh bamboo shoots before and to be honest, this is the first time I’ve seen it fresh in picture. I always cooked with canned ones because they are the only ones available. Good post, Norma. Have a good weekend!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Ray,
      If you have an opportunity, do give it a try, very different from the canned ones. A comparison would be canned lichee versus fresh lichee. A good weekend to you too.

  7. Courtney says:

    Good for you, for trying something new. Looks really tasty, Norma!

  8. Lou Murray's Green World says:

    fascinating post, Norma. Is did some research and found that cooking fresh bamboo shoots in plenty of water in an UNCOVERED pan will allow the ” bitter compounds” to dissipate into the air. If the roots taste at all bitter, dump the water, add fresh water and boil for another four minutes. An alternative to rice bran that I found from a Japanese cook was to rinse rice and save the white rinse water for cooking the bamboo shoots. My guess is that you must have used enough cooking water to cook out the cyanide compounds, or we wouldn’t have gotten this post from you. I’ll stick to canned bamboo shoots, thank you.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Lou,
      Yes, I must have used sufficient water I also stirred a few times, that may have helped with the dissipation. Lesson learned: thoroughly research a subject matter before jumping in.

  9. Veggiewitch says:

    These look so wonderful! ♥

  10. What an interesting post Norma! I have never handled fresh bamboo shoots but have to say, I am certainly curious now!

  11. Fresh bamboo shoots! I never knew how they were prepared before, thanks Norma!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Celia,
      The method I describe is for the skinny shoots given to me, I believe the preparation for the larger shoot is different. I should edit the post and mention this.

  12. When I lived in Florida I grew lots of varieties of bamboo and sold them at markets (in pots) and I always wondered what I needed to do in order to eat the shoots. Great post!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Maureen,
      Did you grow the invasive varieties or the clumping varieties? I have the fargesia and I don’t believe it sends out edible shoots, must check.

  13. How fascinating! It looks like a lot of prep time but I bet they’re much more flavorful fresh than canned.

  14. mac says:

    What a delicacy you have there, I love fermented bamboo shoots.

  15. Hi Norma, What an interesting post! It reminds me of asparagus (long shoots). I think I’ve tasted bamboo shoots only once or maybe twice in some meals and I don’t remember it’s taste at all. I’d like to try it one day fresh. Norma, do you eat fava beans? and how do you prepare it?

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Marina,
      Yes, bamboo shoots are quite like asparagus they must be harvested at the right time to be edible.
      I have not played around much with fava beans. Tried growing them but was unsuccessful. The problem is they are another labour intensive veg to prepare and when they are in season I am very busy, one of these fine days.

      • Thanks Norma! I came across some and wanted to try but the only way I remember eating it is raw off the vine when they are very young.
        Lemongrass update. I planted two: one in a shade area and one in partly shade/sun. The one in a shade is doing much better then the other one. I am intrigued by this plant! Do you have a post about lemon grass plant?

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Marina,
        From what I read one should not eat raw bamboo shoots.
        No I do not have a post on lemon grass plant. May be at the end of the growing season after I gather sufficient information and photos from my plants.

  16. Charles says:

    Hi Norma – I too bought some raw bamboo a few years ago – I don’t think I used it in the end because I had no idea how to prepare it and the methods I found online seemed terribly … dodgy. It’s like this fruit I had once called a “cherimoya”. Reading guides on that was a bit scary too. All these people saying things like “DO NOT EAT THE SEEDS EVER AT ALL!!”, lol :D

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Charles,
      Love cherimoya, mouth is watering thinking about it. Did not know one should not eat the seeds, is it poisonous? Learned something new. Should Google. Do you ever wonder how we managed pre-Google?

      • Charles says:

        Hi Norma, apparently the seeds are used to make fly killer or something and are pretty toxic!

        I’m surprised you like cherimoya… when I tried it I found it absolutely disgusting! On Wiki I read it was like a cross between mango, strawberry and banana or something. When I had it…. omg… so bad. Just a really unpleasant flavour! :(

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Charles,
        You did not sample a good ripe cherimoya, it is really delicious. Do give it another try if you have the opportunity.

  17. These look great, Norma!

  18. This is so interesting Norma! Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned for preparing bamboo shoots. I enjoyed your post!

  19. Lovely post! These look great, Norma.

  20. Eva Taylor says:

    Cool! I like bamboo shoots but have only had them from a tin. Did you add any seasonings?
    Many exotic vegetables have a toxin, did your articles say what the toxin might do to you? I’m glad that you didn’t get sick!
    Meant to mention that we’re in New York City so I may not be as quick to comment.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      No I did not add any seasoning during the parboiling. Cool and froze to develop recipe later what I have more time. This is such a hectic time of the year.
      I will be in NYC Tuesday and Wednesday, would be so funny if I bump into you. Happy Anniversary! See you are having a grand time, Keeping up with your restaurant reviews.

  21. Kristy says:

    I’ve never prepared or eaten bamboo shoots. I wouldn’t even know where to begin, but it looks like you did a great job. I love learning new things from you Norma! :)

  22. sybaritica says:

    I have used canned (awful) and brine packed (not bad) … I wish, wish, wish, I could get the fresh ones :(

  23. leduesorelle says:

    Thanks for testing out the bamboo shoots for us, Norma!

  24. samantha says:

    i am lovling hering u can eat bamboo but my qustion is one i cant find the answer too wehave bambo growing in the back of the garden and my kids every time they go near it get a rash on the part of there body that comes in contact should i be worryed about this rash and also how do u get ride of the rash or do i just leave it thanks

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Samantha,
      So sorry but I do not have an answer to your question. Perhaps you can try the Bamboo Society (Google “bamboo society” to get to their web site) and hopefully you will receive an answer from someone there.

  25. Pingback: Harvest Monday, January 27, 2014 – Last of My 2013 Harvest From the Fridge + 5 Most Viewed Post in 2013 | Garden to Wok

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