Takenoko (筍)



Lately, I have seen more bamboo-sourced products as eco-friendly options. How about where you live? Bamboo is considered a sustainable plant since it regenerates from its roots and doesn’t require replanting. In addition, the speed of growth is unbelievably fast compared to trees. Therefore, it is an excellent sustainable alternative to tree products. 

Bamboo use to be used for everything in Japan

In Japan, people have enjoyed bamboo by looking at it in the garden and using it as structural material for buildings. Moreover, people used to make daily necessities out of bamboo, such as water flasks, chopsticks, baskets, fishing traps, and even musical instruments. In addition, people have been consuming bamboo shoots as food. It is called Takenoko (筍) in Japanese. It’s not just Panda who enjoy eating bamboo! 

What is that white stuff in Takenoko? 

Takenoko is in season between March through June. If you are lucky, you will come across fresh Takenoko this time of the year. But the majority of people get pre-boiled and packaged Takenoko from grocery stores.
Takenoko is tender but crunchy and has a bit of a sweet nutty flavor. It is high in fiber and potassium. You might also see some white cottage cheese-like debris inside. Some people get worried that they got moldy Takenoko from the store. I assure you it is not a mold. What you see is tyrosine: nonessential amino acid, so it is not harmful to eat. In fact, Tyrosine is believed to help with cognitive performance under high psychological stress. So, eating Takenoko may bring you some health benefit. 

How to eat Takenoko? 

The most popular way to eat Takenoko is to steam with rice like Takikomi Gohan (炊き込みご飯), use in Nimono (煮物), or stir fry with soy sauce-based seasonings. Takenoko is one of the in-season ingredients during the spring. If you haven’t tried it yet, right now would be the best time to try.