Why many Asians and Australians associate spring with bamboo

Why many Asians and Australians associate spring with bamboo

Edible bamboo shoots are a seasonal vegetable that many Asian Australians have a soft spot for.

Many Asians around the world find this ingredient indispensable when it comes to cooking traditional and authentic homemade dishes. During the pandemic demand for bamboo shoots even increased in some parts of Asia.

In Australia, bamboo shoots are usually more difficult to obtain than other vegetables. It is only now that some supermarkets and independent grocers have started selling bamboo shoots.

Bamboo is a symbol of prosperity and is mostly eaten in the spring when the shoots are young and tender. The slightly crunchy texture of fresh bamboo shoots, even after cooking, is a quality that is hard to find in other ingredients.

If you haven’t eaten bamboo shoots before, I like to think of them as a cross between asparagus and artichokes: bamboo grows out of the ground like asparagus and needs to be cooked just like artichokes. Remove the outer layer before cooking.

Bamboo shoots are also versatile because, once cooked, they can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and then used in a variety of recipes such as roasts and stews of bamboo with meat and tofu, and as a side dish in ramen, as in Taiwan and Japan.

While fresh bamboo shoots are relatively hard to come by in Australia, you can easily get them frozen and vacuum-packed.

I like fresh shoots if I’m lucky enough to get them. I serve them thinly sliced ​​with mayonnaise, a favorite side dish in Taiwan, especially when the weather is warm (which is almost always the case) and bamboo shoots are plentiful.

After my parents first moved to Australia in the 1980s, we ate quite a few bamboo shoots. Mom could not part with the tradition and continued to cook according to her grandmother’s recipes, for example, bamboo stewed in soy with fatty pork and wooden fish soup.

Indonesian confectioner Didier Raditiavanwhich is now in STREET bakery in Melbourne, says he was also a bamboo baby. “Basic [Indonesian] bamboo shoot recipe [they are] boiled and cooked, we add kecap mani before the scrambled eggs and shrimp,” Raditiavan says. The recipe may also include chicken.

An Indonesian dish with this combination is Semarang spring rolls.

“My wife was born and raised in Semarang. [in Central Java), so we are very familiar with the recipe, lumpia Semarang [Semarang spring rolls].”

For a former chef Nina “Teddy” HyunPicking a favorite bamboo shoot recipe is tricky due to the versatility of this vegetable.

“Eating fresh or canned bamboo reminds me of the delicious meals we share with my family, so it remains a staple in our family all year round.”

“There are so many recipes in Vietnamese cuisine, from stir-fry to curry,” Huynh says.

When her grandparents became vegetarians at an older age, her family made a vegan bamboo shoot and mushroom sauce and served it with fragrant jasmine rice.

“It’s such a beautiful memory for me,” she says.

These days, Huyin likes to add bamboo shoots to green curries and dumpling fillings.

“Eating fresh or canned bamboo reminds me of the delicious meals we share with my family, so it remains a staple in our family all year round.”

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