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Healthy living starts with healthy eating. Choosing the right food for your day to day diet is very essential for this purpose. Foods packed with the right essential nutrients are very important for our health, and bamboo shoot is one such power packed natural food. Bamboo shoots are the edible culms of newly sprouting bamboo plant. It is crispy and chewy, and is one of the best seasonal foods of countries like Japan, China, Taiwan and most of the South Asian Countries. Bamboo shoot farming cultivates different bamboo species.
Bamboo is a plant that belongs to the grass family. New shoots will come up after four years of implantation. This is then cut and used as a vegetable. There are many edible variations of bamboo plants. Some of them are Melocanna baccifera, balcooa, bambus tulda, bambusa bambos and more.
The shoot is seen above the ground in various seasons as per the peculiarity of the species. The cone shaped shoot can be cut from the root attachment with the help of a spade. The shoot has many layers of leaves which are firmly bound around the white heart. This is the edible part that is full of vitamins and nutrients and is priceless. The texture of the bamboo shoot is crunchy. It is boiled and cured and then it gets a more neutral taste.
Some of the health benefits of bamboo shoots
- If you are looking for a low calorie vegetable, bamboo shoots can serve the purpose, as you will find only around 27 calories per 100 grams of bamboo shoot.
- The heart of bamboo shoot contains good amount of B-Complex vitamins like niacin, thiamin, vitamin B-6, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. There are very essential for the body’s metabolic functions.
- Potassium is found in good level in bamboo shoots. Since this is an essential component of the body fluids and cells in the body, it is very essential for the body. It also helps to control the heart rate and blood pressure.
- Dietary fiber is found in bamboo shoots. Both soluble as well as non soluble dietary fiber can be found in bamboo shoots. Hence consuming it will help in reducing constipation. It also helps in lowering bad cholesterol or LDL, as it hinds the cholesterol in the intestine. With the consumption of foods that contain high dietary fiber, the risks of colon and rectal cancer can be cut short. Such foods help in protecting the digestive system from all kinds of toxic compounds that enter the body through food.
- Minerals as manganese and copper are present in bamboo shoot. It also has essential minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron. Iron is extremely essential for the respiration of cells in the body and also in the formation of the red blood cells. Copper also helps in producing red blood cells.
Selecting and storing the vegetable
Consuming fresh bamboo shoots is a real delight for the taste buds and for the health of the body. Frozen shoots are exported by countries like Taiwan, China and Taiwan to the USA. You will also get them in cans and vacuum packs and these are available all through the year.
Choosing fresh ones are good for consumption. Make sure you pick sprouts that are very firm and heavy. Also look for those with wide base. Do not pick soft dry ones as they might taste bad. Do avoid those with green discoloration as they show over exposure to sunlight and do taste bitter.
If you want to refrigerate the shoots for 2-3 days, better not to peel the skin. Just wrap it in a paper towel before storing.
Preparing and serving the vegetable
Bamboo shoots should be well processed right before you cook them. It should be peeled well and should be detoxified so as to remove the compounds that are bitter. Peel the bamboo shoot after cutting it into halves in a lengthwise manner. Peel of the leaves outside of the base part and work towards the tip part. Trim the tough portion of the base. You need to dice the shoot in sizes as per your need. Immediately dip the pieces into a bowl with cold water so that they do not turn brown/ oxidize.
When the processed bamboo pieces are added to boiling water, it is detoxified. Since the shoot has taxiphyllin, it has to be removed before they are cooked and consumed. For this, boiling the shoot pieces in salt water in open flame for around twenty minutes helps. Removed the water and boil in fresh water for yet another 10 minutes.
Bamboo shoots stir fried sautéed or even added to chicken dishes, seafood dishes or along with vegetables. It can also be added to noodles, soups, or salads.