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Bamboo Shoots - Nutritional Benefits and Serving

You’ve probably heard about bamboo shoots and how crisp, chewy, and delicious they are. Bamboo shoots, popularly known in China as Sun Jian, are edible freshly erupting culms of the bamboo plant. These delicious tender shoots are a popular delicacy in China, Japan, Taiwan, and other East and South-East Asian countries. There are even farms dedicated to growing and harvesting bamboo shoots in these regions.

The bamboo shoots start appearing 3 or 4 years after the bamboo plant is planted. The shoots arise from the root system of the plant and are eaten as a nutritious vegetable. The shoots are a special Spring delicacy in Japan, where they go by the name of “Takenoko.” The finely sliced Takenoko shoots are usually added to stir-fries, salads, and even rice to create a serving of “Takenoko Gohan.”

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There are many ways of cooking Takenoko. It can simply be boiled, deep-fried, baked, or fried. Most people even eat fresh bamboo shoots raw. It has a light taste and it’s quite easy to eat. The bamboo shoot has a crunchy texture and a mild flavor.

Health and Nutrition Benefits of Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo shoots have numerous health and nutrition benefits. For instance, they are extremely low in calories with just 27 calories in 100 grams of the shoots.

Other health and nutrition benefits of the Takenoko shoot include the following:

  • The heart of the shoot is rich in soluble and non-soluble dietary fiber which protects digestive organs from the harsh effects of toxic compounds in the food we eat. Eating bamboo shoots helps to prevent and control constipation and can significantly reduce the risk of colon-rectal cancer.
  • The shoot has high contents of the B-complex vitamins including riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and pantothenic acid which enhance your metabolic functions.
  • Bamboo contains essential minerals such as manganese, calcium, copper, phosphorus, and iron. Manganese is important in the body as an antioxidant, copper helps in the production of red blood cells while iron is needed in the formation of red blood cells and in the process of cellular respiration.
  • Bamboo shoots are also rich in potassium, which is an essential part of cell and body fluids. Potassium helps control blood pressure and heart rate by controlling the effects of sodium in the body. 100 grams of bamboo shoots has 533mg of potassium which is equal to 11% of a healthy person’s daily requirement of potassium. 

Preparation and Serving of Bamboo Shoots

Preparation of raw bamboo shoots bought at the market starts with peeling the tough outer sheaths and then detoxifying the inner meat to eliminate bitter compounds. You can easily peel the bamboo shoot by cutting it lengthwise in two halves and then peel the outer leaves. Start peeling from the base and work upwards towards the tip. After peeling dice the shoots to your preferred size and dip them in cold water so they don’t turn brown.

Boil the cubes in water to detoxify them. The shoots have a Cyanogenic Glycoside known as Taxiphyllin which is usually removed by boiling the shoots for 20 to 25 minutes. There are many ways to cook and serve bamboo shoots. They can be stir-fried, sautéed, or even mixed with beans, vegetables, or seafood. Tender shoots can be used in soups and salads or eaten with rice and noodles(variety). There are endless ways to enjoy these nutritious bamboo shoots.

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