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Bamboo Shoots: An Update
Vegetables and Vegetarian Foods
Spring Volume: 2017 Issue: 24(1) pages: 31 to 32
The first article about these foods, common for pandas
and people was written in 2003 by Irving Beilin
Chang in Volume 10(4) on pages 9, 10, and 12. It had
four recipes and is on this magazine’s website. A dozen
years later, in Volume 22(1) an article titled: Vegetables:
Unusual in the western World.
The newer article did discuss a dozen
Chinese vegetables, but many readers
wrote to ask why bamboo shoots
were not included. Several also asked
why we have not written more about
these reed-like vegetables used in a
variety of ways in many Chinese dishes.
Responding to those queries, this
article is about these vegetables some
call ‘universal providers.’
Bamboo shoots are popular and used
often because they can be sauteed,
steamed, stuffed, boiled, or braised and
used in ever so many other ways. They
are used in ever so many dishes by those
who eat with chopsticks. They
are also used to making paper,
build houses, repair residences,
and make baskets, furniture,
fencing, clothing, weapons, and
many other things.
Cooks and consumers need
to know that rarely, if ever,
are bamboo shoots eaten
uncooked. If you wonder why
not, one reason is that some
species include toxins such as
hydocyanic acid, though not in
large amounts. Because of that
they are always boiled before
consuming them. Companies
that sell them almost always
cook them before they do. There
are hundreds of species, some with more toxin than
others. That is why they are rarely sold uncooked.
Some varieties of these shoots actually shoot up four feet
in one day, particularly if they are spring shoots. Many
known winter shoots are probably the best among them;
and you can recognize them as they have spaces inside
a whole shoot, and they are the tastiest of any of them.
Some call bamboo shoots the ‘king of the vegetable
family.’ They are cai wong or tian zhu
in Chinese, all grow more quickly in
spring than in winter. The winter ones
look as is someone cut out some of their
insides, they are not solid throughout.
Most bamboo shoots are perennials.
They have solid outer husks that need
to be removed and discarded. When
too old, they are woody and not worth
eating. Most are members of Bambusa
beecheyana or phyllostachys, and they
grow pointy and are as tall as some
trees. Many are flesh-colored, all are
loved for their texture and their taste.
TCM practitioners tell us their flavor
is sweet, neither warm nor cool,
and they impact the lungs and
phlegm and are a valuable aid
for respiratory problems such as
coughs and a rough throat. They
suggest simmering them with
sugar and also eating them that
way if unable to ditch a common
cold. They also suggest cooking
them with garlic and fermented
soy beans. If one has a chronic
prolapse of the anus, one TCM
doctor told us to eat pickled
bamboo shoots cooked with
chicken and salt every day.
Next are a few recipes when
wanting to prepare some. There
are many others in this magazine
listed in the index on its website.
Check them out in the vegetable listings and also look at
others in meat, poultry, and fish dishes. While they can
be eaten alone, and prepared in dessert dishes, most
are in the vegetable section.
|Bamboo Shoots, Stir-Fried|
1 pound bamboo shoots, peeled if needed, and blanched
½ cup chicken stock
2 Tablespoons canned evaporated milk
3 Tablespoons Shao Xing wine
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons rendered chicken fat
1 Tablespoon back vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1. Mix the chicken stock with evaporated milk, wine,
ground pepper, and cornstarch.
2. Heat a wok or pot and add the chicken fat and the
bamboo shoots and braise them for three or four
minutes, then add the above mixture and stir-fry it for
two minutes before adding the wine, seasonings and
3. Stir-fry one minute more, then serve.
|Winter Bamboo Shoots and Fermented Flour|
1 pound canned winter bamboo shoots, drained and thinly sliced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
½ cup pea vines, cut into one-inch pieces
3 Tablespoons fermented flour paste
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ cup chicken stock
1. Heat wok or fry pan, add bamboo shoots and oil, and
stir-fry for two minutes.
2. Add the pea vine pieces, fermented flour paste, sugar,
and salt, and continue to stir-fry for two more minutes.
Before adding the sesame oil and stock boiling it until
thickened, but not more than two minutes; then serve
in a pre-heated dish.
|Stuffed Chicken Wings|
10 one-bone chicken wings, their meat and skin pushed to one end making them look like lollypops
2 Tablespoons dry shrimp, cooked in water or stock for twenty minutes, then drained their liquid discarded
1 shiitake mushrooms boiled in half cup water, then discard their stems and mince their caps
1 Chinese sausage cooked with the mushrooms, then minced
½ cup canned winter bamboo shoots, drained and minced
1 cup sweet rice cooked until soft
2 Tablespoons tin soy sauce
2 Tablespoons cornstarch, separated
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1. Prepare all ingredients as directed, ad cut a pocket in
each chicken wing.
2. Mix minced shrimp, mushrooms, sausage, bamboo
shoots, and rice with half the cornstarch and the hot
3. Dust the wings with the rest of the cornstarch, stuff
each wing and squeeze it closed.
4. Heat the oil and fry half of the wings for two or three
minutes, then put them in a steamer basket and fry the
rest of them for the same amount of time.
5. Put the wings over boiling water and steam then for
twelve minutes, put them in a serving bowl, then serve
|Duck Lotus Roots, and Bamboo Shoots|
1 duck breast cut into matchstick-size pieces
1 section lotus root, peeled and cut into match-stick size pieces
1 Tablespoon each: rice wine, chicken stock, and white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon each salt and granulated sugar
1. Mix dusk pieces with all the other ingredients and
steam over boiling water for twenty-five minutes.
2. Stir well, and serve.