Sunday, April 26, 2009

April harvest. Takenoko, bamboo shoots


It's takenoko season!! The shoots of new Giant Bamboo are now poking up from the ground and free food is to be had for the taking.

The best time to harvest is early morning following a rain. Look for shoots no more than a few centimetres in height. Any bigger and they are too tough.


Dig out the soil around the shoots down about 10 cms and cut. Most Japanese use a Japanese pick which has a sharp blade on one side, but I used a small hatchet with no trouble. The above photo is about 20 minutes worth of work.


Strip away the outer layers and trim the base and tips.


Preparation should be done as soon after harvesting as possible as the shoots quickly become tough and bitter. Before cooking the shoots need some preparation. Most people boil the shoots in water with nuka (rice bran) and a few red peppers, though if you can't easily get rice bran then boiling the shoots and changing the water twice works as well to remove the acridity.


Once drained and washed the shoot can now be cooked. Takenoko can be made into pickles, takenoko gohan, rice cooked with bamboo shoots, is also popular, but a good way is to boil the shoots in a mixture of water, soy sauce, sake, and fish stock.


My favorite way to use them is in Thai curry,.... a little to spicy for most japanese. Tonights supper.... made with eggplants, tomatoes and peppers out of the freezer from last years garden. There is no doubt that the tastiest food is free food!!!


  1. Aw, Jake, you're killing me here. This is the time of year when I really miss my life back in San-in. A long day spent getting the rice paddies ready, then some late afternoon take-no-ko hunting.
    Nothing like that here in Kyoto. Is it any wonder I spend much of my free time in the mountains?

  2. yeah Ted,... but in Kyoto you have all those "office flowers" year round :)