It is common knowledge that bamboo is both prevalent and proliferated throughout Asia. Asian bamboo’s status as a large, timber-sized grass means that it is frequently used as a building material for furniture, eating utensils, and household items, but did you know that bamboo is also eaten? For most of the year, bamboo stalks and leaves are too tough to be used as food, but each spring, the new shoots, which are soft and tender, are harvested, boiled to remove toxins and eaten as a vegetable. In Japanese, this vegetable is known as takenoko. Due to bamboo’s fast growth rate, fresh takenoko are only available for a short time each season, as the shoots very quickly become too big and tough to eat. For the majority of the year, and also overseas where bamboo does not grow as often, takenoko are found already boiled and sealed for preservation.
On its own, takenoko has a mild, slightly nutty flavor. It is slightly crunchy and has a noticeable grain to its pieces, making it somewhat woody while still being tender. When takenoko is fresh, it has a lovely fragrance vaguely reminiscent of savory, fresh grass. Takenoko is most commonly simmered and eaten on its own as a side dish, or mixed with rice for takenoko gohan, or takenoko onigiri. Here at Maido, we have boiled and sealed takenoko as a regular feature in our produce section. If you’re interested in getting to know how it tastes, try the following simple recipe, borrowed from our friends over at Just One Cookbook!
Simmered Bamboo Shoots
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
½ boiled bamboo shoot (227 g, 8 oz)