Fresh bamboo shoots look pretty freaking weird.
Before searching for fresh bamboo in stores, I had never actually seen it before. Completely new territory for me. Even finding it was a bit difficult. If you have an ethnic market nearby, call ahead to check if they have it.
In Seattle, Uwajimaya carries it, but they don’t seem to keep a full stock. I found it tucked in a refrigerated cabinet in a bucket of water, sort of in the produce area. You’ll be lucky to find one or two halves floating about.
Now that I have fresh bamboo, what on earth do I do with it???
I came home and researched everywhere. I could not find anywhere that thoroughly went over how to slice these things, especially in the classic shape for menma. Also…
WTF are those white specks???
That question I was able to find an answer for. While they look potentially gross, they are harmless. According to this blog, they are a congealed amino acid, tyrosine.
It took a bit of experimentation to figure out the best way to chop these suckers. Here is a method that works quite well.
Start by chopping off the tips. Then carefully peel/remove the outer skin. Once peeled, set the bamboo on its back and make two cuts in a V shape to remove the gill-y core. If you don’t care about the shape, you can slice the cores up as well or just save them for another recipe.
Now that it’s cored, you’ll have two pretty chunks. It becomes a bit easier to see how we can get the shape we want now.
First, make a few horizontal slices. The idea is to bring the remaining bamboo chunk to a reasonable length, otherwise the final pieces may be very long. If that is your preference, you can just start chopping vertically! Whatever floats your boat. Once I chopped it down to my desired length, I chopped the rest up vertically.
The result: perfect bamboo slices for menma.
Feel free to give ’em a rinse to remove any lingering white specks. Completely optional, though.