Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are the edible shoots (new bamboo culms that come out of the ground) of many bamboo species including Bambusa vulgaris and Phyllostachys edulis. They are used as vegetables in numerous Asian dishes and broths. They are sold in various processed shapes, and are available in fresh, dried, and canned versions.
Edible bamboo shoots
|Kanji||竹の子 or 筍|
|Tagalog||labóng or tambô|
|Assamese||বাঁহ গাজ (bãh gaz)|
|Jumma people name|
|Eastern Bru name|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||115 kJ (27 kcal)|
|Dietary fibre||2.2 g|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)|
|†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Raw bamboo shoots contain cyanogenic glycosides, natural toxins also contained in cassava. The toxins must be destroyed by thorough cooking and for this reason fresh bamboo shoots are often boiled before being used in other ways. The toxins are also destroyed in the canning process.
- Phyllostachys edulis (孟宗竹, 江南竹) produces very large shoots up to 2.5 kilos. The shoots of this species are called different names depending on when they are harvested.
- Winter shoots (冬筍, 鞭筍) are smaller in size, up to 1 kg in weigh per harvested shoot. The flesh is tender and palatable and commercially quite important; they are harvested in November and December in Taiwan.
- "Hairy" shoots (毛竹筍) are larger in size, but due to their toughness and bitter taste, they are generally used to make dried bamboo shoots. They are harvested between March and May in Taiwan.
- Phyllostachys bambusoides (桂竹) produces shoots that are slender and long with firm flesh. Commonly consumed fresh, they are also made into dried bamboo shoots.
- Dendrocalamus latiflorus (麻竹) produces shoots that are large with flesh that is fibrous and hard. As such, they are suitable mainly for canning and drying.
- Bambusa oldhamii (綠竹) produces valuable shoots that are large with tender and fragrant flesh. They are usually sold fresh and in season between late spring and early fall. Their availability depends on local climate. These shoot are also available in cans when not in season.
- Bambusa odashimae (烏腳綠竹) is considered similar to B. oldhamii, but highly prized due to its crisp flesh similar to Asian pears. It is produced mainly in Taitung and Hualien and consumed fresh.
- Fargesia spathacea (箭竹) produces flavourful long, thin, tender sprouts that can be eaten fresh or canned.
- Bambusa blumeana (刺竹) produces inferior shoots with a coarse and looser textures than other bamboo shoots and are eaten when others are not in season in Taiwan.
Bamboo shoot tips are called zhú sǔn jiān (竹笋尖) or simply sǔn jiān (笋尖) in Chinese, although they are mostly referred to as just sǔn (笋). This sounds similar in Korean juk sun (죽순), a commonly used form, although the native word daenamu ssak (대나무싹) is present. In Vietnamese, bamboo shoots are called măng  and in Japanese as take no ko (竹の子 or 筍). Chakma people from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh call it Bajchur and it is their traditional food. Bamboo shoot tips are called Myit in Myanmar. In Cambodia, they are called Tumpeang (ទំពាំង). It is called Malewa in Uganda and a traditional food for Bagisu tribe from Eastern Uganda.
In certain parts of Japan, China and Taiwan, shoots from the giant timber bamboo Bambusa oldhamii are harvested in spring or early summer. Young shoots from this species are highly sought after due to their crisp texture and sweet taste. Older shoots, however, have an acrid flavor and should be sliced thin and boiled in a large volume of water several times. The sliced bamboo is edible after boiling. B. oldhamii is more widely known as a noninvasive landscaping bamboo.
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In Nepal, they are used in dishes which have been well known in Nepal for centuries. A popular dish is tama (fermented bamboo shoot), with potato and beans. An old popular song in Nepali mentions tama as "my mother loves vegetable of recipe containing potato, beans, and tama". Some varieties of bamboo shoots commonly grown in the Sikkim Himalayas of India are Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Dendrocalamus sikkimensis and Bambusa tulda locally known as choya bans, bhalu bans and karati bans. These are edible when young. These bamboo shoots are collected, defoliated and boiled in water with turmeric powder for 10–15 minutes to remove the bitter taste of the bamboo after which the tama is ready for consumption. Tama is commonly sold in local markets during the months of June to September when young bamboo shoots sprout.
In Karnataka, India, the bamboo shoots are used as a special dish during the monsoons (due to seasonal availability) in Malnad region. It goes by the name kanile or 'kalale in the local language. The shoots are usually sliced and soaked in water for two to three days, after which the water is drained and replenished each day to extricate and remove toxins. It is also used as a pickle. It is consumed as a delicacy by all communities in the region.
In the Diyun region of Arunachal Pradesh, the Chakma people call them bashchuri. The fermented version is called medukkeye, and is often served fried with pork. The bamboo shoots can also be fermented and stored with vinegar.
In the western part of Odisha, India, they are known as Karadi and are used in traditional curries such as Ambila, pithou bhaja and pickle. In monsoon, it can be abundantly found in Bamboo forest of Karlapat wildlife sanctuary and mostly prepared in homes using mustard paste. They can be stored for months in an air tight container. They are also dried in sun increasing their shelf life and these dried shoots are called Hendua. The dried shoots are used in curries of roasted fish, called Poda Macha.
In Nagaland (India), bamboo shoots are both cooked and eaten as a fresh food item or fermented for a variety of culinary uses. Fermented bamboo shoot is commonly known as bas tenga. Cooking pork with a generous portion of fermented bamboo shoot is very popular in Naga cuisine.
In Manipur (India), they are known as u-soi. They are also fermented and preserved after which they are known as soibum. They are used in a wide variety of dishes – among which are iromba, ooti and kangshu etc.
In Indonesia, they are sliced thinly to be boiled with coconut milk and spices to make gulai rebung. Other recipes using bamboo shoots are sayur lodeh (mixed vegetables in coconut milk) and lun pia (sometimes written lumpia: fried wrapped bamboo shoots with vegetables). The shoots of some species contain cyanide that must be leached or boiled out before they can be eaten safely. Slicing the bamboo shoots thinly assists in this leaching.
In Filipino cuisine, the shoots are commonly called labóng (other names include rabong, rabung, or tambo). The two most popular dishes for these are ginataáng labóng (shoots in coconut milk and chilies) and dinengdeng na labóng (shoots in fish bagoóng and stew of string beans, saluyot, and tinapa). Bamboo shoots are also preserved as atchara, traditional sweet pickles that are often made from papaya.
In Thai cuisine bamboo shoots are called no mai. It can be used in stir-fries, soups such as tom kha kai, curries such as kaeng tai pla, as well as in salads such as sup no-mai. Some dishes ask for fresh bamboo shoots, others for pickled bamboo shoots (no mai dong). 
In Vietnamese cuisine, shredded bamboo shoots are used alone or with other vegetable in many stir-fried vegetable dishes. It may also be used as the sole vegetable ingredient in pork chop soup. Duck and bamboo shoot noodles (Bún măng vịt)  is also a famous noodle dish in Vietnam.
In Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, bamboo shoots are a traditional food of the indigenous Jumma people. The preparation of their dishes consist of several steps. First, bamboo shoots are collected from the bamboo forest then defoliated and boiled in water. Afterwards, the bamboo shoot is prepared with shrimp paste, chili, garlic paste, and salt.
In Burma (Myanmar), bamboo shoots are called myahait. They can be used in a soup called myahait hcaut tar la bot. The preparation of this dish generally follows three steps. First, the bamboo shoots are collected from a bamboo forest (called warr taw in Burmese). Bamboo can be found in the whole of Myanmar but the bamboo shoots from the two northernmost regions (Kachin State and Sagaing Region) are soft and good in taste. The bamboo shoots are then boiled in water after which they can be cooked with curry powder, rice powder etc. One of the most famous dishes in Burmese cuisine is a sour bamboo shoot curry called myahait hkyain hainn, a specialty of Naypyidaw in central Burma.
Yam no mai, a northern Thai salad made with boiled bamboo shoots.
Philippine ginataáng labóng, bamboo shoots cooked in coconut milk
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bamboo sprouts.|
- Naturally Occurring Toxins in Vegetables and Fruits, Hong Kong Government Centre for Food Safety
- 竹筍, Giasian junior high school Kaohsiung County, archived from the original on 2010-06-27
- 張, 瑞文, 四季竹筍, ytower[permanent dead link]
- Lonely Planet. Vietnamese phrasebook -anglais-. ISBN 1741047897. Page 168
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- Jesse D. Dagoon (1989). Applied nutrition and food technology. Rex Bookstore, Inc. ISBN 978-971-23-0505-4.
- Super Big Eagle!! (2016-08-01). ""หน่อไม้" มีประโยชน์กว่าที่คิด..ลบความเชื่อผิด ๆ ออกจากใจ : ป้องกันมะเร็งลำไส้ ขับสารพิษใต้ผิวหนัง". WINnews (in Thai).
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