or, takenoko. The edible shoots of the big bamboo species generally come up in Spring. There are many ways to eat them: lightly simmered in dashi stock, deep-fried as tenpura or stir-fried with other seasonal vegetables. However, my family favourite has always been the homely takenoko gohan, or bamboo shoots cooked with rice. No matter how you cook the shoots, they need to be prepared the same way before they are edible.
First the shoot is topped and peeled, and then simmered in water to which has been added some okara (soy bean residue) and a touch of chile pepper. The shoot is simmered gently till a wooden skewer passes through its thickest part nice and easily. It is then removed from the stew-pot, rinsed, further peeled and left to cool at room temperature.
The shoot can then be chopped and is ready for cooking.
In this case, the bamboo shoot pieces are mixed with sliced abura-age (thin layered deep-fried tofu) and then mixed with washed rice and dashi, and cooked as regular rice – pressing a button, in the lazy case of using a domestic rice cooker. The rice is ready in about 45 minutes, and the dish completed by placing one small branch of kinome (sansho pepper tree) on each diner’s bowl of hot steaming rice.