In East Asian cuisines, the young shoots of certain species of the bamboo like Dendrocalamus and Phyllostachys are sliced, cooked, and eaten as vegetables. Bamboo shoot, the youngest part of the bamboo plant, forms an essential ingredient in dishes of many countries like India, Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam, Philippines, China, Japan, and Uganda.
There are mainly two types of shoots which are considered edible, the winter shoots and the spring shoots. The spring shoots are larger and tougher than the winter shoots. These days, canned as well as fresh shoots are available in the markets. They are used to make snacks, hot curries, spicy stir fries, salads, appetizing soups, and aromatic fried rice. A diet conscious person should be aware of the nutritional value of bamboo shoots.
- The shoots are rich in dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, thiamine, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, protein, riboflavin, niacin, and iron.
- They are a good source of potassium.
Though the shoots are highly nutritious, they are low in calories.
- 120 g of cooked, boiled with salt, and drained bamboo shoots contain no fat and cholesterol, while they provide you with 13 calories. These shoots are packed with dietary fiber.
- ½ a cup of raw shoots (about 75 g) contain 1.7 g fiber, 68.7 g water, 1.96 g protein, 3.93 g carbohydrate, and 2.27 g sugar. They offer 20 calories.
- 100 g of canned slices of the shoots contain approximately 19 calories.
- Bamboo can be ideally consumed for healthy weight loss as the shoots are low in calories. They help maintain optimum health.
- The shoots are used in Chinese medicine to treat various infections.
- They help reduce bad cholesterol, and thus prevent heart diseases.
- The shoots effectively remove stomach worms.
- They help lower high blood pressure as they are rich in potassium.
- They are packed with phenolic acids and anti-oxidants. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties.
- They help in curing toxemia (internal poisoning).
- Fresh, dried, shredded, and pickled shoots are commonly included in the diet. High fiber content prevents chronic constipation, and promotes healthier bowel movements.
- One of the important fact about the nutrients in these shoots is that the phytochemicals present in them are potent antioxidants. They also have anti-bacterial and antifungal properties.
Tips for Cooking Bamboo Shoots
You may store the fresh shoots in the refrigerator, as they last for several days. Before cooking, the hard outer layer of the shoot is peeled off, so that the inner off-white tender part is exposed. You are expected to parboil the fresh shoots before cooking, else they might be toxic. In order to remove the bitterness of the fresh shoots, fresh slices are to be soaked in water for about 24-36 hours. You may cut the raw shoots into cubes, sticks, or slices and then cook them in salted water. They are cooked within 30 minutes. The unused shoots should be stored in the refrigerator, in a air-tight container filled with water. The water in the container should be changed daily.