Spring in Japan is the season of bamboo and bamboo recipes. I adore cooking with bamboo which is so versatile, high in fiber and low in calories. Bamboo shoots are a very seasonal vegetable, available in all supermarkets and vegetable shops between March and May. You can also purchase vacuum packed bamboo shoots year-round in most stores – but nothing beats the Spring Shun of Bamboo Recipes. Try one of these great recipes this weekend.
Bamboo Recipes – Spring Shun (in season)!
How to prepare fresh bamboo shoots to use in recipes
- Select bamboo shoots at your local store that feel firm and heavy. The outer skin of the bamboo shoot should be a purplely green colour and slightly hairy.
- When you get the bamboo home, lightly rinse and remove the outer skin pieces down to a lighter non-dairy inside. Also, cut off the bottom of the root end (about 0.5-1.0 cm).
- Fresh bamboo is slightly bitter so it needs to be boiled to remove the bitterness and soften the bamboo. Take the entire peeled bamboo sprout and boil in a pot with the white water from rinsing your rice or add rice bran to a pot of water (little bags of rice bran are usually provided with the bamboo when you buy at a store). Boil and simmer for about one hour or until you can poke a skewer through the sprout easily. I usually boil, then leave to sit in the water overnight.
Cooking with pre-cooked vacuum packed bamboo shoots
If you can not find fresh bamboo shoots or, just don’t want to be bothered to prepare then you can also use vacuum packed or canned bamboo shoots. Leave the shoots in the can or plastic until right before you want to cook. When you open the package, you may find little bits of white blobs in the folds of the bamboo. The white blobs are not old, but remains of the rice water the bamboo was processed in; just wash it off gently.
Here are seven of my favourite bamboo recipes. Perfect shun (in-season dishes). Try making one tonight.
- Takenoko Gohan (Bamboo shoot rice) – this recipe is made in your rice cooker (four servings)
- 4 rice cooker cups of white rice
- 1 medium cooked bamboo shoot (chop in to 3-5 cm slices)
- 2 Tbs. sake
- 2 Tbs. mirin
- 2 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 1/2. salt
- The soaking liquid from the shiitake, plus added water if needed
Wash the rice as you would normally do. Add rice to the cooker and add water for four cups of rice. Pour the sake, mirin, soy sauce and salt mixture and stir in lightly. Let the rice soak in the mixture for one hour, then add the bamboo on top of the rice (do not stir in). Cook the rice and bamboo as you would normally cook rice. Once done lightly mix the bamboo into the rice below and serve.
2. Spring Miso Soup by I’ll Make It Myself. net – I made this soup the other night, and all four kids loved it. It is packed full of veggies which they all ate up happily. A great meal with some rice on the side for a rainy spring day. https://illmakeitmyself.net/2011/06/03/farewell-to-spring-spring-miso-soup/
3. Sweet and Sour Pork Subata by the Japan Food Addict.com – This is an easy dish and with a side of rice will make any busy family happy. Robust dish with plenty of veggies and meat. You can make the night before and save for a busy weekend.
4. Stirfried Bamboo Shoots by Rachel Cooks Thai.com – This Thai recipe is crisp and slightly spicy. It has ground pork (could be replaced by chicken), chopped garlic, Thai chilis, oyster sauce, and bamboo shoots. My teens loved it. http://www.rachelcooksthai.com/stirfried-bamboo-shoots/
5. Simmered Bamboo Shoots (Takenoko No Nimono) at About.com – I first had this dish over 25 years ago when living with my homestay family in Kyoto. It was one of my favourite dishes then and continues to be the perfect side dish with grilled fish or chicken. It also keeps well for a few days so you can prepare in advance of a busy week. http://japanesefood.about.com/od/tempuraappetizer/r/Simmered-Bamboo-Shoots-Takenoko-No-Nimono.htm
6. Grilled Bamboo Shoots (Yaki Takenoko) – Great recipe for the grilling family. Next time you light-up the BBQ throw on some slices of fresh bamboo that have been lightly marinated. So so good with a beer or some crisp white wine on a spring night! http://www.canadianliving.com/food/grilled_bamboo_shoots.php
7. Stirfried Bacon and Bamboo Shoots by Kin Recipes – This is one of family’s favorite. Anything with bacon is loved by my tribe, so this one was hard to go wrong on. A very easy recipe to whip up in 5 mins and accompanies any type of meat. Also great if you want something light to enjoy with drinks. http://kinrecipes.weebly.com/stir-fried-bacon-with-bamboo-shoots.html
Organized by Seasonality here are our favorite Japanese ingredients and recommend family friendly recipes.
Our favorite places to shop for groceries!
Bamboo Recipes – Spring Shun (in season)!
Did you enjoy this article? If yes, please sign-up for the Best Living Japan newsletter so you don’t miss any great info. It is easy to sign-up just click here, and enter your email.