There are four types of bamboo commonly used for cooking around these parts, and this one's called 'Nomai waan', or 'sweet bamboo'
Most of the bamboo we are used to in the West has a very yellow tinge, and a woody flavour – normally out of a can or vacuum pack. This variety has a really nice taste – mild, sweet and excellent all by itself.
Young bamboo shoots are the edible bit used in any bamboo recipe.
You could try and gnaw on the old stuff below, but people would tease you and call you a "Panda".
It DOES have culinary uses though, when it gets older.
The heavy wood cylinders or 'pockets' are used to cook food inside, giving flavour and retaining moisture. the outside gets charred and smoky, flavouring and steaming the food inside which retains its moisture and infuses the flavour trapped inside.
Sticky rice gets cooked inside, and another great bamboo recipe is fish wrapped in turmeric leaves, packed into bamboo, and barbequed. That one is going on my menu at some point – it's just delicious.
This next pic is the thin young shoot of bamboo.
Good ones are hard to find, because the tip is below the earth, or mulch covering.
Digging around like a truffle dog can help – and experienced harvesters know how and where to look.
On these skinny young ones, only the lower half of each segment is edible – the top half normally woody.
They are not as meaty as the plump, larger 'nomai wan' shoots.
The idea for skinny ones like this is to peel the bamboo and use the tender bamboo from the lower part of each segment and then discard the woody top parts.
Next step is easy for this variety of sweet bamboo.
No curries, spring roll fillings or salads are necessary to mask the overpowering flavour, because it is subtle and delicious.
Just peel until no skin is left.
- Boil until soft, in plain water. This should take around 40 minutes.
- Cool, then shred finely.
- Heat a wok or frying pan.
- Stir-fry in a small amount of oil, with a little salt.
- Add a little water (2 dsp. only), and stir-fry a minute or two.
- Serve with a little shredded cilantro chopped through.Enjoy, served with steamed white sticky rice. Here's a recipe for cooking sticky rice with 6 simple steps