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All about bamboo shoots

Because the bamboo plant grows naturally fast, there are advantages to utilizing it. For example, bamboo can be used as a substitute material for making utensils such as toilet paper. In addition, the bamboo plant has other positive properties. For example, did you know that bamboo is also edible? Bamboo shoots – actually the baby plants of the bamboo – are used in many Asian dishes in different ways. In addition, bamboo shoots are also healthy by being naturally rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

What are bamboo shoots?

As mentioned above, bamboo shoots are the young shoots of the bamboo plant. Bamboo shoots look a bit like asparagus and sprout alongside the bamboo. Like all other grasses, bamboo stores its strength in its roots underground. This causes the bamboo to grow quickly when conditions are favorable. Due to the toxic cyanogenic glycosides found in bamboo, the raw shoots are not edible. When bamboo shoots are cooked, this substance is broken down.

Fresh bamboo shoots will keep for up to two weeks if stored properly in the refrigerator and away from sunlight. In fact, when bamboo shoots are exposed to sunlight, they acquire a bitter taste. The same flavor occurs with older, not fresh shoots. Therefore, older bamboo shoots must be sliced thinly and then cooked several times before they can be eaten.

What are bamboo shoots
Images by mrsiraphol on Freepik

What can you do with bamboo shoots?

Bamboo shoots can be processed in various ways and they are available in fresh, dried or canned versions because of this. Once cooked, bamboo shoots are crisp and have a fresh taste. In the Netherlands, we may not be so familiar with bamboo shoots as a type of vegetable, but bamboo shoots are used a lot in Asian cuisine in particular. For example, the sprouts cut into strips can be served as a side dish with a little soy sauce and butter. Shoots can also be added to soups, stews, salads and gravies.

Pickled bamboo shoots serve as oriental snacks. The pith of the young shoots can also be pickled and used as a spice. This menma is a common garnish for ramen noodle soup. In Thai cuisine, bamboo shoots are used in stir-fries, in soups such as tom kha kai, in currys as well as in salads. In Indonesia, it is common to cut the shoots into thin strips and cook them in coconut milk and spices to make gulai rebung (an Indonesian curry). Other recipes with bamboo shoots include sayur lodeh (mixed vegetables in coconut milk) and lun pia (aka lumpia: deep-fried wrapped bamboo shoots with vegetables).

What can you do with bamboo shoots
Images by jcomp on Freepik

Are bamboo shoots healthy?

A publication in the Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety shows that bamboo shoots are low in calories, rich in dietary fiber and packed with essential nutrients. These nutrients include proteins, carbohydrates, amino acids, minerals, fats, sugars, fiber and salts. For example, 100 grams of these vegetables contain only 27 calories, high protein (2.6 g) and negligible fat (0.3 g). Also notable is the amount of vitamins that bamboo shoots contain, such as vitamins A, E, B vitamins, thiamin and folic acid. On top of that, the vegetable also consists of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and iron.

In Asian countries, bamboo shoots are best known for their health benefits. Due to its vitamins and minerals, bamboo shoots are ideal for improving the body’s immune system. Oxidants are also essential for strengthening the body from within. There are studies indicating that the phytosterols and phytonutrients contained in bamboo shoots are ideal for reducing cholesterol levels. This ensures the smooth supply and movement of blood through the body, thereby protecting heart health.

Other researched health benefits include helping with healthy bowel movements and anti-inflammatory properties. Because of this, bamboo shoots can also help. Read even more about bamboo and the benefits of bamboo toilet paper.

In cleaning wounds and sores. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is believed that bamboo shoots can also help induce labor.

In short, bamboo shoots are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes in a variety of ways. Besides being edible, bamboo shoots also have medicinal properties and are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The versatility of bamboo shoots further reinforces the common belief that bamboo contributes to making the world a better place.

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