Takenoko Gohan 竹の子ご飯/ 筍ご飯

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As spring comes around, young bamboo shoots can be found gently peaking out of the ground in Japan’s dense bamboo forests. Takenoko are the baby bamboo shoots that’s main body is still underground. Because of this, they need to be dug up and cleaned before eating. They can be found all over Asia and are not unique to Japan. They are however, only available for a short period of time during spring and can only be found canned for the rest of the year. In the same way that astringent vegetables (such as garlic) is sometimes cooked in milk to mellow out its flavours, bamboo shoots can be cooked in rice water to help mellow out it’s bitterness. Rice water is water saved from washing rice and therefore a convenient way to cook bamboo shoots is by making bamboo shoot rice. Fresh raw bamboo shoots may be a hassle to prepare or obtain and can be replaced with canned or pre-cooked ones. They can sometimes be found in asian supermarkets pre-cooked.

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Menma which are also known as bamboo shoots, are completely different from Takenoko. Usually served as a ramen topping, Menma is made from a kind of bamboo shoots known as machiku (麻竹) or shinachiku (台湾支那竹). These bamboo shoots grow up to one meter in length before they are harvested, typically around June to September. They are then cleaned and steamed before allowed to ferment. They are then either dried or canned for future use. Comparatively, the shoots known as takenoko are dug up from underground and are never exposed to sunlight.

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I like to garnish my bamboo shoot rice with kinome leaves (木の芽). Kinome leaves are the young leaves of the Japanese pepper plant known as Sansho peppers (Zanthoxylum piperitum/山椒). The Japanese pepper plant is from the same family as that of citrus fruits (Rutacaeae), and grows throughout Japan, Korea and China. The berries (peppercorns) of the plant are dried and ground into a powder and is used to season dishes, most famously for eel. The young kimone leaves on the plant start to grow during spring and have a mint and pine like citrusy aroma. When used in the sushi restaurant, we place the leaves between our palms and clap them together in order to bring out the aroma by releasing the aromatic oils.

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Takenoko Gohan たけのこご飯

  • 2 Cups/360ml White Rice
  • 2 Raw Bamboo Shoots/Pre-cooked Bamboo Shoots
  • 30ml Sake
  • 30ml Mirin
  • 30ml Soy Sauce
  • 540ml Chicken Stock
  • 5g of Chicken Fat
  • 2 Raw Bamboo Shoots/Pre-cooked Bamboo Shoots
  • Mitsuba Parsley
  • Sansho Pepper Leaves

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  1. Wash the Bamboo shoot carefully to remove as much soil as possible.
  2. Wash the rice until clear and reserve the water, do not start cooking the rice yet.
  3. Carefully slice down the centre of the bamboo shoot just deep enough to penetrate the tender inside and peel away the hard layers.
  4. Simmer for 30 minutes in rice water until tender.
  5. Remove from water and allow to cool.
  6. Slice the Bamboo shoots thinly
  7. Add the rest of the ingredients into the rice as well as the Bamboo shoots before cooking as you would normal rice. (e.g. start the rice cooker)
  8. Garnish with mitsuba parsley and sansho pepper leaves

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