Perhaps you've seen bamboo groves in the woods or in backyards in the Northwest; they're very popular in gardens. Growing up, my family always had a patch of bamboo on their property and every spring we would watch in amazement as the shoots would grow as much as 30 feet in the year. Of course, we used the bamboo for forts and other crafts, but it never occurred to us that we could eat the new shoots of bamboo asparagus style, raw in salads, or dunking them in a dip. This year, as spring gets closer, I'll be waiting to nab the little shoots to try them in a dinner dish.
For more information on the tastiest varieties of bamboo and more bamboo recipes, take a peek inside the Encyclopedia of Country Living.
Spicy Marinated Bamboo Shoots
Slice 1 lb. bamboo shoots. Cook (as for bitter shoots, if needed) until just tender. In blender (or with mortar/pestle), blend or mash together hot chili to taste, 4 cloves garlic, and 2 T. fresh cilantro or mint (different tastes, both good). Toss the bamboo shoots in the seasoning mix until coated. Then put them in a jar and cover with rice wine vinegar. This will keep several weeks in the fridge.
Using and Preserving Bamboo
Serve your boiled bamboo slices hot in stir-fry recipes or soups, or fry them in miso. Or serve cooked and then chilled, mixed into a potato or green salad. To freeze bamboo, bag slices (boiled if bitter) in plastic and freeze. To dry bamboo, boil the shoots 15 minutes, slice, salt, and dry.