Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are the edible shoots (new bamboo culms that come out of the ground) of many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. They are used as vegetables in numerous Asian dishes and broths. They are sold in various processed shapes, and are available in fresh, dried, and canned versions.
Raw bamboo shoots contain cyanogenic glycosides, natural toxins also contained in cassava. The toxins must be destroyed by thorough cooking and for this reason fresh bamboo shoots are often boiled before being used in other ways. The toxins are also destroyed in the canning process.
Bamboo shoot tips are called zhú sǔn jiān (竹笋尖) or simply sǔn jiān (笋尖) in Chinese, although they are mostly referred to as just sǔn (笋). This sounds similar in Korean juk sun (죽순), a commonly used form, although the native word daenamu ssak (대나무싹) is present. In Vietnamese, bamboo shoots are called măng and in Japanese as take no ko (竹の子 or 筍). Chakma people from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh call it Bajchur and it is their traditional food. Bamboo shoot tips are called Myit in Myanmar. In Cambodia, they are called Tumpeang (ទំពាំង). It is called Malewa in Uganda and a traditional food for Bagisu tribe from Eastern Uganda.
The bamboo plant is a member of the grass family. After about 3-4 years of implantation, a new shoot arises from the underneath root system which is then gathered, and eaten as a vegetable. Some of the important edible species widely prevalent are Bambusa bambos, Bambusa tulda, B. polymorpha, B. balcooa, Dendrocalamus hemiltonii, D. gigentius, and Melocanna baccifera.
Bamboo shoots begin to appear above the ground surface in different seasons depending upon the species. When a young, cone-shaped new shoot just appears above the soil surface, it is severed from its root attachment, generally using a spade.
On its exterior, the shoot features several layers of a sturdy casing of leaves, firmly wrapped around its central cream-white heart (meat). This prized meat is what the much sought after portion of the bamboo shoot. It is crunchy in texture and has mild yet distinctive flavor. Once boiled and cured, however, it acquires almost a neutral taste.
5 Amazing Benefits
- Bamboo shoots are one of the very low-calorie vegetables. 100 grams of fresh cane holds just only 27 calories.
- Bamboo heart composes of moderate levels of soluble and non-soluble (NSP- non-starch carbohydrates) dietary fiber. 100 g of fresh shoots provide 2.2 grams of roughage. Dietary fiber helps control constipation conditions, decrease bad (LDL) cholesterol levels by binding to it in the intestines. Studies suggest that high-fiber diet can help cut down colon-rectal cancer risk by protecting digestive organs from the toxic compounds in the food.
- Bamboo hearts are also rich in the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid those are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions.
- Bamboo is useful in minerals, especially manganese and copper. Also, it has small amounts of some essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Manganese utilized by the human body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper employed in the production of red blood cells. Iron is essential for cellular respiration and red blood cell formation.
- Bamboo shoots compose excellent levels of potassium. 100 grams of fresh shoot holds 533 mg or 11% of daily required levels of potassium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure by countering effects of sodium.