The arc of discovery in Japanese food will, in springtime, put you face to face with this delicious grass. It is a very simple process to cook bamboo shoots and you need not worry about the toxic nature of it so long as you don’t eat it raw!
Japanese cooks rarely deviate from the classic method of preparation which is to boil, adding some spicy chili peppers and rice bran or simply a small handful of rice which is believed to draw out the bitter stuff(cyanogenic glycoside).
This method is what we will employ in the grilled bamboo shoot recipe. Another important step after choosing a healthy looking weighty specimen is to make sure you use it the day you buy it or a couple of days after tops, and peel the leaves down to the flesh as this will avoid cloudy water when cooking.
I think my most exciting takenoko experience was in Mie where i thought it would be a great idea to pick some fresh shoots in the morning as until then i had only ordered them from our veg supplier at the restaurant or bought them at a farmers market so i wanted to get to know them on a more personal level. Some species can grow as much as a meter in 24 hours, and other creatures are very aware of this as i found out when i gatecrashed an all you can eat bamboo buffet party enjoyed by a pack of wild monkeys. This experience immediately quenched my desire to get to the source and let the professionals take care of it.
Be sure to try the recipe…