Normally, when these beauties are at their peak…
…there are no bamboo shoots.
This year, however, there has been abundant rain all through winter and into spring. The spring equinox, only days away, should bring a mad upthrust of large shoots, but some have already made an appearance.
These are not the rare, inconspicuous winter shoots which are delicious, and whose generative purpose I do not know, since they do not turn into culms. No, for over a week, I’ve been able to harvest spring shoots from under the power lines. I’ve never had conditions this good, and climate seems to be favouring moso more each year. Since 2007, there’s been a shift to more dominant ocean winds and generally higher humidity, even in the classically dry late winter, and even through the El Niño of ’09.
This likely boom season is exciting, and I’m going to blog it. Let’s roll with some easy Thai-style bamboo shoots with chick peas. Here are the ingredients, firstly before peeling of the shoots…
…and after peeling.
In earlier posts I’ve explained that moso shoots need to be boiled up first and the cooking broth discarded. Quality can vary: my usually superb shoots are fine with just the one treatment in water with some salt, vinegar and dark sugar added. Then they can be frozen or added to a pot of just about anything.
After long soaking, the chick peas are pressure cooked till tender. Just to show off, I add some bamboo charcoal, of which I have plenty. It’s a great water improver, and serves a similar purpose to bi-carb in the cooking of chick peas.
I’ve been experimenting with crushed charcoal, but it’s a lot better and neater to just add a whole piece of charcoaled moso. (I’ll blog about charcoal soon.)
So, some Thai curry paste is fried hard in oil, vegetable stock is added, the pot hisses like a banshee. Next, the cooked chick peas and blanched, sliced moso shoots are added. Some interesting dark sugar is tossed in, and maybe some interesting citrus leaves. (My lemonade tree’s tender young leaves are good for this.) Near the end of cooking, coconut milk is mixed in.
Serve with rice…cooked with a few slivers of bamboo charcoal, of course!