When considering bamboo, your mind likely goes to giant bamboo shoots sprouting in Asia. However, did you know that bamboo is edible, and can provide great nutritional value? Beyond being the preferred food source for Giant pandas, bamboo shoots have long been of cultural significance for many Asian cuisines.
Crunchy bamboo shoots are high in fibre, contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, and when cooked well, are extremely delicious.
What Are Bamboo Shoots?
Bamboo shoots are small root vegetables that are edible, coming from many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulius. Used in many Asian dishes and broths, bamboo shoots are sold in various processed shapes, available fresh, dried, and in a canned version.
Can You Eat Bamboo Shoots?
Bamboo shoots are edible. However, they first need to be boiled before anything else. Raw bamboo shoots contain cyanogenic glycosides, natural toxins also contained in cassava. The toxins must first be destroyed by thorough cooking, hence why fresh bamboo shoots are often boiled before being used in other ways.
Bamboo Around The World
In certain parts of Japan, China and Taiwan, shoots from the giant timber bamboo Bambusa oldhamii are harvested in spring or early summer. Young shoots from this species are highly sought after because of their naturally crisp texture and sweet taste. Older shoots come with an acrid flavour and need to be boiled in large volumes of water several times.
Pickled bamboo, used as a condiment, may also be made from the pith of the young bamboo shoots.
In Nepal, they have regularly used bamboo shoots in Nepalese cuisine for centuries. One of the most popular dishes is tama, fermented bamboo shoots with potato and beans. Tama is often sold in local markets during the months of June to September when the young bamboo shoots begin to sprout.
Bamboo shoots are low in calories, high in dietary fibre, and rich in various nutrients. The main nutrients in bamboo shoots are protein, carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals, fat, sugar, fibre, and inorganic salts.
Bamboo shoots also contain antioxidant and anti inflammatory qualities that reduce the risk of numerous long-term illnesses like heart disease.