Advertisements

myMEGusta

Named for things that please me (“me gusta” in Spanish) and rhymes with balabusta (Yiddish for “good homemaker”).

Bamboo – It’s not just for chopsticks and pandas!

Lunchtime At the Playground

Lunchtime At the Playground

There’s a lot of bamboo talk these days, about “sustainable” flooring and socks and shirts.

Life is good at the Panda Reserve in Chengdu!

Life is good at the Panda Reserve in Chengdu!

And, we panda lovers know that it’s what wild pandas eat, although zoos will supplement their diet with other things like high fiber biscuits and sweet potatoes.

 

For people, there are bamboo shoots and bamboo pith, the latter having little to do with the bamboo plant.

Bamboo shoots are a familiar ingredient in Chinese dishes, particularly things like Buddha’s Delight, that old fashioned mélange which vegetarians ate while everyone else dug into chicken chow mein. Unfortunately, most people are only familiar with the canned product, pretty pedestrian.

Fresh Bamboo Shoots

Fresh Bamboo Shoots

Fresh bamboo shoots are a different story entirely.

Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo Shoots

 

Crisp and tasty, they make a great addition to salads and stir fries, and are also delicious braised.They can occasionally be found fresh in supermarkets, either soaking in brined water or plastic, which are fine but it’s better to purchase at an Asian markets with better turnover.

Braised Bamboo Shoots in Brown Sauce

Braised Bamboo Shoots in Brown Sauce

Bamboo Pith in Soup

Bamboo Pith in Soup

Bamboo pith, also known as bamboo mushroom or veiled angel or stinkhorn, is rarely seen in the United States other than at the most genuine and best Chinese restaurants. It actually looks like a tubular veil, the only part of the mushroom which is eaten, and has an almost nutty taste, usually served in soup or with other vegetables.

Bamboo Pith on the Hoof

Bamboo Pith on the Hoof

 

It is one of the items which myMEGusta cannot resist ordering on those rare occasions when it’s available, and it’s one of her favorite aspects of travel to China.

This vegetable has nothing to do with bamboo other than the fact that it grows on agricultural waste like bamboo leaves, among other things like soybean pods, and corn and willow leaves.

Bamboo Pith with Spinach

Bamboo Pith with Spinach

It used to be considered a delicacy, found only in the wild, and enjoyed in the most celebratory and exclusive banquet dishes. But, while it’s still pricey, bamboo pith has been cultivated in the Fujian province in China since 1979, making it commercially viable.  If you’re in China, you might find it fresh at a super-upscale restaurant, but it is usually sold dried.

Purchase it at Asian markets and on the internet, where it was recently seen for $31.30 for 8 ounces, expensive, but goes a long way once soaked and reconstituted. And it’s REALLY good!

Advertisements

Single Post Navigation

2 thoughts on “Bamboo – It’s not just for chopsticks and pandas!

  1. Anne Tornillo on said:

    Fascinating!!!

  2. Bamboo Pith must be something like Huitlacoche. Cuitlacoche, the Mexican Corn fungus. We were not long enough in China to look for the Bamboo Pith but it sounds interesting. Good informative blog as usual.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: