Bamboo shoots are the tender young growth of bamboo, a huge tropical grass that can grow several metres tall. The shoots are harvested before they reach 30 cm (1 foot) in height, generally before they are two weeks old.
The young shoots are crisp and tender like asparagus, with a flavour reminiscent of corn, and are widely used in Asian cooking. Bamboo shoots are commonly available canned, though fresh bamboo is far superior in taste and texture.
Bamboo shoots are low in calories and fat, containing only 14 calories and 0.5 g fat per half-cup serving. The same size serving also provides 2.5 g fibre, about one-tenth of the recommended daily amount, which helps lower cholesterol and is a valuable defense against colon cancer. Bamboo shoots are also rich in potassium: one cup contains 640 mg of potassium (18% of the recommended daily amount) which plays a important role in maintaining normal blood pressure and heart rate.
Fresh bamboo shoots can be stored for up to two weeks in the refrigerator. Avoid keeping them for longer periods or exposing them to sunlight to prevent them from becoming bitter.
First cut off the root ends, remove the tough outer leaves (the more tender leaves are edible, however) and pare away any tough fibrous sections before cooking. Slice the bamboo against the grain into 3 mm (1/8") slices. Very tender shoots can be sliced in any fashion.
Drop into boiling water and cook for about 20 minutes uncovered, to allow bitter substances in the bamboo to dissipate. Bamboo shoots that are still bitter after cooking can be given a second cooking in fresh water for approximately 5 minutes longer.
To microwave bamboo shoots, place them in a shallow pan of water and cook uncovered for four minutes. Bamboo shoots should remain slightly crisp once cooked.
Toss with a little oil and soya sauce and serve as a vegetable side dish.
Add some bamboo shoots to salads, soups, stir fries or mixed vegetable dishes.
Marinate in rice vinegar, sesame oil and soya sauce for a few hours.
Fresh bamboo shoots must be cleaned and cooked before eating. Raw, they are bitter and difficult to digest. Some contains toxic substances that disappear after cooking
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