Last updated: August 10, 2021

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In Asia, bamboo shoots are very popular, especially as side dishes. It is an asparagus-like vegetable that is obtained from the edible part of the bamboo plant. When the shoots are visible on the surface, they are harvested. The low-calorie vegetable is found mainly in East Asia and has been eaten in China for more than 2500 years.

The Japanese call the plant the "king of forest vegetables", which is known there as a typical spring vegetable and is often found in miso soups or traditional dishes. The yellowish shoots have a rather restrained flavour, but are still appreciated for their fresh taste and versatility.

Furthermore, according to traditional Chinese medicine, bamboo shoots have health benefits. For example, they are said to help against epilepsy and nervousness. In the following section we have summarised everything about bamboo shoots. You will also find recommendations on what to look out for when buying bamboo shoots.




The most important facts

  • Bamboo shoots can be used in many ways. They are often used to refine dishes or you can make tea from bamboo shoots, which is said to have healing properties
  • It is important to know that bamboo shoots should never be eaten raw, as they contain toxic hydrocyanic acid, which only disappears when cooked.
  • Bamboo shoots contain about 90 % water, hardly any fat and few calories. They are therefore ideal for losing weight

The Best Bamboo Shoots: Our Picks

In the next section I have listed the best bamboo shoots. It should help you with your purchase decision and there is certainly something for everyone.

Buying and evaluation criteria for bamboo shoots

To help you choose the right bamboo shoots, I have listed the most important criteria to look out for.

Here you will find a more detailed description of the criteria listed above.

The place of origin

Bamboo shoots originate from Asia, especially from China, Thailand and Japan, but bamboo shoots are also found in Latin America.

The taste

The taste of bamboo shoots can be described as very mild and pleasantly crunchy. However, it also depends on how the shoots are prepared. In some parts of India, they are typically pickled in vinegar and hot spices and eaten as a tasty side dish. In other parts of Asia, they are cooked and served as an accompaniment to soup.

Ingredients/organic quality

If you want to buy a natural product, it is important to check the ingredients listed to make sure they do not contain preservatives or sugar.

Ideally, they should only contain bamboo shoots, sea salt and water.

It is also advisable to look for the BIO seal to ensure that the shoots have been grown without chemical additives.

Type of bamboo shoots

A distinction is made between:

  • dried bamboo shoots
  • cut sprouts in a jar
  • fresh bamboo shoots

Depending on your personal preferences, these 3 types have advantages and disadvantages and are suitable for different dishes. You can buy cut sprouts in a jar in any well-stocked supermarket. There is also a distinction between Măng lá, the leafy bamboo shoots and Măng củ, the tuberous bamboo shoots.

For leafy shoots, only the young, less woody ends of the bamboo are used. You can usually find them uncut in any Asian shop. The tender ends are mainly used in Asian stir-fry dishes. In contrast to the leafy part, the tuberous shoots have a slightly more bitter taste and are less tender.

If you find them uncut, we recommend cooking them briefly to get rid of the bitter taste. In general, you can expect to find the tuberous part cut and pickled. These do not need to be cooked and can be added directly to the dish. The tuberous sprouts are often used in spicy soups.

If you are a big fan of sprouts, the dried variety might be something for you. Here you can order a larger storage package. As with fresh/preserved sprouts, we distinguish between Măng lá khô (dried bamboo tips) and Măng lưỡi lợn (tuberous bamboo shoots).

After soaking, the tips are cut at the bottom and pulled apart as desired. The dried tubers are cut into strips. Due to their consistency, the tuberous shoots are more often used in braised dishes in Asia, as they hardly absorb the sauce and thus retain the shoots' own flavour.

If you opt for the vacuum-packed fresh variety, it is essential to boil the sprouts first in order to destroy the toxic prussic acid. The cooking water should also be disposed of afterwards.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about bamboo shoots answered in detail

In the following section we answer the most frequently asked questions about bamboo shoots. You will get a deeper insight into what to consider when buying and preparing bamboo shoots.

Who are bamboo shoots suitable for?

Bamboo shoots can generally be added to all dishes, but it is hard to imagine Asian cuisine without them. The crunchy shoots are especially suitable for those who like to experiment in the kitchen and want to add a certain freshness to their dish.

It is hard to imagine Asian cuisine without bamboo shoots, as their crunchy consistency gives every dish a certain freshness. (Image source: Sharon Chen /Unsplash )

Why should I never eat bamboo shoots raw?

Because of the prussic acid they contain, fresh bamboo shoots should only ever be eaten cooked. Heating destroys the toxic prussic acid compound. As a precaution, children should not eat bamboo shoots. Usually all toxic compounds are destroyed, but in some cases traces may still be detectable.

How much do bamboo shoots cost?

The cost of bamboo shoots varies according to the type of shoots as well as the quality of the product and the number of grams. Products in organic quality and without additives are usually more expensive. Use the table to compare prices and decide for yourself what is suitable for you and your needs.

species price per 100g organic/non organic
in a jar 0,80€ No
fresh 5,90€ Yes
dried 4,5€ Yes

Conclusion

Bamboo shoots are versatile, especially because of their mild taste, and it is hard to imagine Asian cuisine without them and they are also becoming increasingly popular in this country. Due to their high iron and silicic acid content, they are also ideal for people who pay attention to a healthy and balanced diet. Especially for diabetics, the sprouts are ideal for inclusion in the diet, as they contain hardly any carbohydrates.

You can buy bamboo shoots in various forms. Whether dried, from a jar, fresh or organic bamboo shoots: there is something for every taste and budget. Just try integrating the crunchy sprouts into your next dish, whether it's a salad, stir-fry or rice.

(Cover photo: zoo_monkey/ Unsplash)

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