Spring in Kyoto is all about sakura and spring vegetables. We are living in the rural area of southern Kyoto, the advantage of living in this area is that we get to taste all fresh local fruits and vegetables in all seasons. For free, sometimes. Bamboo shoot season is just about to over, we received quite a few from hb's friends last few weeks. This is one of the latest bamboo shoot dish I prepared and photographed the last bowl. I like this soup very much with lots of pepper, ingredients used and consistency are similar to sour-spicy soup (酸辣汤).
Fresh bamboo shoot is abundant in the country sides but precious in the cities, same as in Malaysia. I was lucky to live in a village in Malaysia my dad used to "hunt" for fresh bamboo shoot in the farm during Chinese new year period. Preparing fresh bamboo shoot sounds hard but it is actually easier than it seems to be. My family method is to boil it with rice water (water from washing the rice), and Japanese method is boiling it with rice bran (kome nuka/米ぬか). It can be boiled unpeeled, partially peeled or peeled. I tried both partially peeled and whole peeled method, prefer the latter as all my pots are small.
This is how I prepare bamboo shoots:
- Make a slit with a sharp knife, cut from bottom side as it is softer and easier to cut. Then, use the knife to force open the outer skin, it will be peeled off easily. Or, you can peel the outer skin layer by layer if you wish.
- Cut off the tip, peel off the remaining skin with knife.
- Put 2 tbsp nuka in a teabag or a muslin pocket, put in the pot together with peeled bamboo shoots. Fill in just enough water to float the bamboo shoot.
- Turn the heat on, bring to a boil then simmer with pot lid ajar for an hour. Turn the heat off, set aside and let the whole pot to cool down completely.
- Rinse and cut into into size preferred.
- It can be kept in the refrigerator for about a week, submerge it in water and remember to change the water daily.
Meatballs-Bamboo Shoot Soup ／肉丸竹笋羹
- 300 g minced chicken / pork
- 1 tbsp sake or cooking wine
- 1 tbsp katakuriko
- Ground white pepper
- Garlic powder
- 2-3 tbsp cold water
- 2 tbsp chopped spring onion
- 300 g bamboo shoot (after boiled), sliced
- 1 small carrot, sliced
- 2 litres water
- 1 tsp chicken soup powder
- 1 no. large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp katakuriko, dissolve in some water
- 1 tsp garlic oil
- Salt to taste
- Chopped spring onion for garnish
- To prepare meatball, mix together all ingredients for meatball then mix with chopsticks, in same direction, until the mixture is sticky and hard to mix. Set aside.
- Bring water to a boil, then turn the heat to lowest. To make meatball, wet one hand with cold water then grab some meat mixture. Make a small "O" shape with thumb and pointer finger and squeeze the fish paste out through the "O" shape. It will form a small ball eventually, scrap it off with a spoon and drop it into the pot of water.
- Turn the heat up a little, cook until all meatballs floating on the surface.
- Add in bamboo shoot and carrot, bring to a boil. Add in chicken powder and salt to taste.
- Add in katakuriko solution, then add in egg in stream while swirling the soup slowly with ladle.
- Lastly, add in garlic oil and stir to mix. Transfer to serving bowls, garnish with spring onion and serve warm.
Below are some of the bamboo shoot dishes I cooked this spring. Takenoko gohan (bamboo shoot rice), takenoko tsukemono (bamboo shoot pickle), shiitake-bamboo shoot stew (Chinese style), and chicken-bamboo shoot-zucchini cream stew.