Updated: February 25, 2019
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All You Want to Know About Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo Shoot, or takenoko in Japanese, is a highly sought after seasonal delicacy due to its crisp texture and sweet taste.

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Bamboo Shoots, or Takenoko (竹の子)

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Bamboo shoot erupting from the soil.
Crisp and chewy bamboo shoots are erupting edible culms of the bamboo plant. Young, tender shoots are a seasonal delicacy in East Asian regions, particularly in China, Taiwan, Japan, and other South-East Asian countries.
Bamboo shoots begin to appear above the ground surface in different seasons depending upon the species. When a young, cone-shaped new shoot just appears above the soil surface, it is severed from its root attachment, generally using a spade.

Health Benefits

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The benefits of incorporating takenoko in your diet are vast! Check them out below:

1. They are rich in nutrients: shoots have a high content of protein (amino acids), carbohydrate, minerals, and several vitamins (thiamine, niacin, vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin E)
2. Function as nutraceuticals: bamboo shoots contain phytosterols and a high amount of fiber that can qualify as “nutraceuticals” or “natural medicines.” Phytosterols have cholesterol‐lowering activity.
3. They have high fiber content and almost no calories: bamboo shoots are a good source of edible fiber, which helps in lowering the blood cholesterol and keeping a healthy intestine.
4. Low fat: Fat content is extremely low in bamboo shoots, therefore, very good for weight-conscious and dieting people.
5. They have high potassium levels: 100 grams of fresh shoot holds 533 mg or 11% of daily required levels of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps in controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium.
6. Functions as an appetizer: the high cellulosic content of bamboo shoots stimulates appetite. Being crisp, crunchy, and tender with a sweet flavor, shoots have a unique and delicious taste that function as an appetizer.

How to Prepare

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Raw bamboo shoots contain cyanogenic glycosides, a natural toxin that can be destroyed by thorough cooking. If you happen to buy a bamboo shoot "in natura", there are important steps to take before you eat them. Here's how to do it:

1. Wash and clean the bamboo shoots.
2. Cut off the tough root end and peel tough skins
3. Cut the tip off and make several slices
4. Place the bamboo shoots in a pot of water together with 2 handfuls of rice bran (you can use rice if the shoots are fresh).
5. Bring to boil then reduce heat and boil for 90 minutes.
6. Turn off heat and let it cool for about 2 hours.
Any remaining outer skin should now peel off easily. You're ready to use the bamboo shoots in various dishes!

Seasoning the Shoots

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Simmered young bamboo shoots with wakame(seaweed).
Now that you have your shoots cooked, it's time to season!

Ingredients:

800 g prepared bamboo shoots
400 ml dashi soup
1 tablespoon of sugar
3 tablespoons of sake
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of mirin (sweet rice wine)
5 g – 10 g dried bonito flakes
Place the bamboo shoots and dashi into a pot, cover and boil over high heat. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, sake, soy sauce and mirin and increase the heat to medium. Continue to simmer for about 45 minutes. Once the liquid has reduced to a level roughly 1 cm from the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and remove the lid. Add the dried fish flakes, or katsuobushi, and mix well so that the flakes completely cover the bamboo shoots.

You're ready to eat takenoko!

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