Rich in fibre, potassium and anti-oxidants, they can be used either fresh or in the preserved form
Bamboo shoots are the tender growth of bamboo, a huge tropical grass that can grow several metres tall. The shoots are harvested before they reach 30cm in height and before they are two weeks old. The young shoots are crisp and tender like asparagus, with a flavour that is reminiscent of corn. They are frequently used in Asian cuisine. Bamboo shoots are commonly available canned, though fresh bamboo is far superior in taste and texture. They are an integral part of Chinese cuisine.
Bamboo shoots are low in fat and calories. One cup of long sliced bamboo shoots contains a little more than 14 calories and half a gram of fat. The shoots are a good source of fibre. One cup of sliced bamboo shoots provides about 2.5gm of fibre, which substantially meets the body's daily requirement of fibre. Fibre helps keep cholesterol in check and plays a role in preventing colon cancer. Bamboo shoots are a good source of potassium - one cup contains 640milligram. Potassium is a heart-healthy mineral. It helps maintain normal blood pressure and a steady heart rate. When it comes to phytochemicals, a natural substance found in plants, bamboo shoots contain lignans and phenolic acids. Lignans, a component of fibre, possess anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. Phenolic acids have mild anti-inflammatory properties and are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent cancer and injury to blood vessels.
Fresh bamboo shoots need to be peeled and cooked. Raw bamboo shoots are bitter and difficult to digest. Trim the roots, peel the outer leaves and remove any tough flesh in the shoots before cooking. The tender leaves can be left untouched. The shoots should be cut across the grain into one-eighth inch slices. If very tender, they can be cut in any manner. Drop the slices into boiling water and cook for 20 minutes uncovered, to allow the bitterness in the shoots to dissipate. If the bitter taste remains, boil the shoots in fresh water again for five minutes. Once the shoots are cooked, they remain crisp. Bamboo shoots can be used not only as a fresh vegetable, but also can be processed and preserved in many forms. Now for a recipe. Soop Naw Mai(Bamboo shoot salad)IngredientsShredded bamboo shoots (canned): 300gmSugar: 20gmRoasted rice: 2tbspLimejuice: half tspRoasted chilli flakes: 1tspGreen onion/spring onion sliced: 2tspFish sauce: 1tspMethod: Mix together bamboo shoots, roasted chilli, limejuice, green onion, fish sauce and sugar. Mix well. Add the roasted rice and check the seasoning. If it is spicy, add more roasted rice to it. Serve at room temperature. Note: For vegetarians, fish sauce may be replaced with soya sauce.HRUDANANDA BEHERA
Sous Chef, Hip Asia, Taj Connemara