In Japan, spring is bamboo season. The tender shoots of bamboo may be enjoyed stewed, cooked with seasoned rice or, according to Japanese cuisine expert Tatsuo Saito, as tempura or stir-fry “since it goes well with oil that is rich in flavor.” Boiled bamboo shoots may also be grilled with butter or seasoned with soy sauce as “steak.”
“Seasoned kelp (“shio-konbu”) may be used as seasoning by mixing with sea bream sashimi or in salads,” adds Saito.
Here, then, is a recipe for bamboo-shoot pilaf. Since the pilaf also tastes good cold, it may be used in boxed lunches. Serves two.
200 grams boiled bamboo shoots
10 grams kelp strips boiled in soy sauce (shio-konbu)
600 grams cooked rice
20 young buds of Japanese pepper (kinome)
20 grams butter
Salt and pepper
1 tsp soy sauce
Cut bamboo shoots into root and tip sections. Slice root horizontally in semicircles or quarter rounds. Cut tip in half lengthwise and thinly slice that way.
Add butter to frying pan and place over heat. When bubbles subside and butter turns golden in color, add bamboo shoots. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes over low-medium heat while stirring occasionally until edge turns brown and the surface becomes dry.
Add kelp and stir-fry. Add rice and mix carefully with wooden ladle in cutting motion so kelp is scattered evenly. Salt and pepper to taste. As a final touch, add soy sauce in a circular motion and let aroma rise. Mix.
Serve in dish and garnish with Japanese pepper (sansho) buds. If unavailable, use powdered Japanese pepper instead.
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From the vernacular Asahi Shimbun's Okazu Renshucho column
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