Not many people know how to eat bamboo shoot. Or even heard of eating bamboo shoot. Yes, we eat bamboo, and we are not Panda.
According to Wikipedia, Bamboo: The shoots (new bamboo culms that come out of the ground) of bamboo, called zhú sǔn (竹笋) in Chinese, are edible. They are used in Asian stir fry, and are available in supermarkets in various sliced forms. However, the shoots of some species contain toxins that need to be leached or boiled out before they can be eaten safely.
It is a traditional Hokkian dish, just like "Za Choi" (pickled vegetable ball in chilli) in Sichuan.
I was raised with my grandparent (mother side), who were directly imported from China. We speak Hokkian, and eat Hokkian style of food day in day out. Although my gene still consists of half Hokkian, but I think I am more than half for that.
So, back to our topic. The dish I am going to introduce here took me almost a week to take the pictures. Why? It is because you need that much time to prepare the dried bamboo shoot.
Why Bamboo shoot, and why dried? It was prepared during winter time in China. People dig out those new bamboo culm and dried it under winter's cold win. Pressed it and store it for spring.
And why we eat bamboo shoot during Chinese New Year? Actually it is not a necessity dish. It not even put on the table for any prayer session. The main reason is, of course it is tasty (if you are use to the taste) and the dish main function as "recycle, regenerating, reuse" of leave over dishes such as chicken, meat, roast duck, sea cucumber, mushroom, etc.
In order not to waste away those over served food during the festive season, we prepared a large portion of bamboo shoot and re cook with the unfinished food. Yiak?! Not at all. Because you heat the pot for very long time (usually days) with all those meats and bones. Bamboo absorb all the sweetness and infect, the more you eat, the more you miss it.
It is very hard to buy dried bamboo shoot here, because we have no people produce it and no large demand as well. So, it is kind of expensive in some specific store such as the one in KL Central Market or a wet market in Cheras.
The raw food smells like rotten rat or salted fish. Horrible! You need to soak it in fresh water for 1 to 2 days to soften and rehydrate.
After rehydrate, it was put into a pot and boil in hot water for few hours to further the process. At the end of the process, there were no any unpleasant smell anymore.
You need to soak for a day again and slice it into pieces.
Then put it into pot with some pre-prepared meat or bone soup.
Add any nice meat or unfinished dishes each day and continue cooking it everyday. Do not worry that the shoot will melt. Although the texture will eventually turn softer and softer, but you will still enjoy the bite.
The art of enjoying the dish is, each day you may serve a small portion and further cook it at the end of the day. You will grow with the dish and follow it from raw to matured and finally complete and full of taste, but that will be the last piece left in the pot, then!
Happy Chinese New Year!