The Hunt for Bamboo Shoots
General Manager of Southeast Asian General Operations and long time resident of the East, Steve Sandor lives in China at the edge of a great bamboo forest. In the next two blogs, we follow Steve as he hunts for and prepares a meal of bamboo.
Bamboo has a myriad of uses, including being a source of food, most famously for panda bears, but also for humans who like it steamed or wok fried, usually with other ingredients.
Bamboo is low in saturated fat and a good source of fiber, protein, riboflavin and zinc. Better still, it’s a very good source of Vitamin B6, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
The edible part of bamboo, as far as humans are concerned, is the shoots. Once bamboo turns into a hard, woody plant it’s better suited for purposes other than food. Of course, here at Plyboo we use the mature plant to manufacture flooring and plywood.
Bamboo is a rhizome, sending runners underground which break open into shoots, eventually forming bamboo culms, the woody shaft of the bamboo plant. It’s the rhizomes that make bamboo so hard to control in a garden and so prolific in the wild.
During the winter the shoots lie the beneath ground, which is usually frozen and often snow covered. Searching for bamboo shoots in the winter is in some ways like hunting for truffles in France. The prized food lies underground and it takes of lot of experience and intuition to know where to dig. A dog or a pig with a good nose can help you hunt for truffles. No such luck with bamboo shoots. It’s purely a human endeavor.
In spring the weather is much milder and the bamboo is bursting from the forest floor, racing to achieve their full height of seventy feet, all in a matter of a hundred days. Bamboo shoots are still collected at this time and are easier to find as they have broke the surface. But unlike the winter shoots that have a texture of an artichoke heart, the spring shoots are quite chewy.
Enjoy Steve’s blog!