Digging up bamboo shoot is really hard work. (Photo/Shine.cn)
Chinese cuisine emphasizes on making the best use of seasonal ingredients, and the fresh produce and catches of spring are sure remedies to help the body make the transition from the bold and rich flavors of the cold winter days.
This week, we select four ingredients worth trying in spring, including two vegetables, fish and shrimp.
Spring bamboo shootThe spring bamboo shoot harvested before the Qingming Festival, which falls on April 5 this year, is a delicacy not to be missed in Shanghai and which is also easy to find at a reasonable price.
Bamboo shoot is a seasonal vegetable containing very few calories and nutrients — 100 grams of fresh bamboo shoot only has around 20 kcals and it’s basically composed of water and fiber.
“China has a long tradition of eating bamboo shoots. One reason is that bamboo trees have productive value. But if you let all the bamboo shoots grow freely in the bamboo forest, it’s difficult for the trees to mature, so eating the bamboo shoots is necessary consumption,” said Otto Goh, executive chef at the Kerry Hotel, Pudong, who recently led a trip to the Wangwei Mountain in Zhejiang Province to explore the spring bamboo shoots.There are two categories of bamboo shoot: spring and winter. The spring shoot is easier to find, tender in texture and fresher in taste.
The bamboo shoot is eaten across China, including Zhejiang and Sichuan provinces, where the climate is ideal for the plant to thrive.
The spring bamboo shoot is at its best in the 10 days before and after the Qingming Festival.
“When the spring bamboo shoot grows up, the ground cracks slightly, so you look at the soil when finding the bamboo shoots. If an area is greyish in color and has cracks, the bamboo shoot is probably there,” said Goh.
Digging up the bamboo shoots from the soil is really hard work, as one has to swing the hoe really hard around the bamboo shoot to loosen the soil and pick up the shoot and while avoiding hitting it at the same time.
For beginners, harvesting one bamboo shoot takes at least 10 minutes.