Foodstuff: Bamboo Shoots in Brine

Bamboo in brine 1

Bamboo shoots are a common ingredient in Asian cuisine that most people have sampled at one time or another but, for the most part, usually only the ones that come in cans. Quite honestly, I don’t care for them when packed this way as the canning process imparts an unpleasant metallic taste that can only be remedied by lengthy soaking, during which time any other flavors get lost as well.

I love pickled or fermented bamboo shoots (see my post here) and also the dried sort, which will be featured in an upcoming post, as both of these have a very unique and delicious character (albeit something of an acquired taste, for some). The fresh article is, unfortunately, something I have yet to be able to cook with as the only times I have seen it in stores is when I was travelling and it was not practical for me to buy it. Accordingly, when I am in the south, I like to buy the brine-packed type you see pictured above. These are not nearly as flavorful as the dried or fermented products, but they add visual appeal and a nice texture to many dishes and have the added advantage of no nasty metallic qualities…

There are many different species of bamboo harvested for edible shoots and there is a decent listing of the various kinds at Wikipedia. The large ones you see in the above picture (with a teaspoon included for scale), are identified as 麻竹 on the package. The first character means hemp and, according to Wikipedia, the botanical name is Dendrocalamus latiflorus, and the species is one of the more fibrous ones and generally suitable only for canning or drying.

The smaller variety are sold as 尾笋, which, as best as I can translate, means something like ‘horsetail bamboo shoot’. I don’t see this referenced at Wikipedia and I rather think that they may actually be a juvenile version of the ones in the larger package.

Bamboo in brine 2

These are the ‘horsetail’ shoots out of the package and, as you can see, they have a very pretty appearance. They are actually not very salty, despite being brine-packed, but they also do not have the nice fresh taste I recall from having the unprocessed types in restaurant meals. I find, though, that soaking for an hour in cold water to which a few drops of vinegar has been added, re-freshens them quite nicely.

I have decided that this package will be used to cook a Sichuan style vegetable dish along with green-beans. The larger package will make several meals, but I also plan to do a purely vegetable dish first using black mushrooms as well. Stay tuned…

 

10 thoughts on “Foodstuff: Bamboo Shoots in Brine”

  1. This is very nice find –brined bamboo shoots. I have many recipes that I need bamboo shoots. However, so lucky for me I found this great place in Causeway bay that sells fresh bamboo shoots and they are just gorgeous with a very easy a simple shrimp stir fry. Delicious. Wishing you and the family a very happy New Year. Take Care, BAM

  2. here in my country (Philippines) we cook seafoods like shrimp and crabs with thinly sliced bamboo shoots (known locally as “labong”) in coconut milk. very delicious.

  3. I appreciate your enthusiasm for Asian inspired food dishes. But still, am looking to see how folks up North celebrate the holidays…. Merry Christmas!!

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