The bamboo shoots, which may be no mai lai (GIANTOCHLOA NIGROCILIATA) or no mai bong (BAMBUSA TULDA) - choose small ones, boil them until they lose their (bitter) taste, then cut off all the hard outer layer and cut the trimmed shoots into sections 8 cm long - after this use a needle to make slits in them lengthwise, but leaving the ends of each section intact.

Of course it is more likely that you will be more successful in the Asian Grocers looking for canned bamboo shoots. They need to be fairly substantial in width as the meat is stuffed into that area where you may remove part of the bamboo shoot centre. These are available canned through Asian grocery stores.

On a point of interest the Bambusa Tulda has a 50 year mast flower cycle. Botanists have noticed that all the plants flower at the same time and then all the clumps die. This happened last time in 1984-1988. I presume that the biological benefit is genetic variation and sexual reproduction rather that pure dependency on the main natural propagation of asexual budding or rhizome growth and clumping.

People of traditional cultures who have intimate access to the forested areas where these bamboos grow are astute at harvesting the newly emerging growth shoots. The profitability is significant in their economies and the town markets will always buy. One problem is the logistics. The shoots are perishable and will "ferment" to a very unappetising bitter outcome. To make a daily delivery isn't profitable or manageable. These people have found that if they scorch the shoots in a charcoal bed, this will stop or prevent the fermentation, allowing the gatherers time to collect sufficient quantities to take into the urban markets. Purchase by the end user means that they first soak and then cook the shoots. Soaking is really important for flavour. The bitterness I mentioned previously is akin to the aroma and that lingering fume of burning rubber or plastic. A taste of this on first exposure will almost guarantee that you are over bamboo shoots.




Ingredients:
  • 5 Bamboo shoots (as mentioned above)
  • 7 (small) shallots, pounded
  • 1 piece of pork, including some fat, the size of the palm of a hand, minced
  • 2 eggs
  • salt and fish sauce
  • flour (about 2 tbsp)
  • ground black pepper
  • chopped spring onion leaves
  • pork fat
Method:
  1. Mix together in a large bowl the minced pork, the pounded shallots, ground black pepper and I tablespoonful of the flour. Mix all this thoroughly. Add salt, fish sauce and some of the chopped spring onions. Adjustments on taste or vision are well made at this point.
  2. Stuff the mixture into the slit-open bamboo shoots and wrap these in pieces of banana leaf as you would in making a kebab. Use a bamboo holder to grill the packages until they are cooked, then open up the banana leaf coverings and leave the contents to cool.
  3. Heat some pork fat in a wok. Beat the eggs in a bowl with salt and some flour mixed in. Dip the cooked bamboo shoots in the egg mixture and fry them in the hot fat until they are nice and golden. Place them on a platter to serve.