Bamboo Shoots, Dried
Dried Bamboo Shoots, thin and wide [Mang Kho (Viet); Menma (Japan)]

Dried bamboo shoots are of two types. Traditionally they were heavily salted during drying. While the salted are still available, due to new technology, most dried bamboo shoots in the markets here in Los Angeles are of the unsalted form, whether wide, thin or sliced. They are always treated with sulphur dioxide or another sulfite to preserve them and maintain color, as is most dried fruit sold in North America.

Some of these products, especially from China, are an almost garish yellow in color. Of the photo specimens, the large were from Vietnam and the small from China. The largest wide piece was 11 inches long and weighed 3 ounces.

More on Bamboo.

Dried Salted Bamboo Shoots, thin and wideDried Bamboo and Fresh Bamboo are different things, and not interchangeable with each other. Dried Bamboo has a chewy meaty texture and some sweetness, contrasting to the crisp texture and light flavor of fresh bamboo. Dried is much valued in Vietnam for the perfumy effect it has on broths and soups. In general, strips cut from medium size, lighter colored bamboo shoots are recommended for shorter soaking and faster cooking.

The salted form, shown in the photo to the left, is prepared pretty much the same as the unsalted, with a couple changes of the initial soaking liquid. It is milder and more grassy in flavor than the unsalted form.

Buying:   Pretty much any market serving a Southeast or East Asian community will have these, usually several brands, shapes and sizes. The photo specimens were purchased from a large Asian market in Los Angeles (San Gabriel). The large, in an 8 ounce package, for 2017 US $8.58 per pound, while the thin, in a 6 ounce package, were at 2017 US $10.10 / pound.

Storage:   Tightly sealed in a plastic bag, these shoots will last at least a year stored away from sunlight and heat.

Prep:   Dried bamboo will expand to two or three times the dried volume when fully soaked. Two or three ounces of dried is sufficient for most recipes.

  1. Rinse the Dried Bamboo well, and wring it out as best you can.
  2. Place in a bowl and cover with water, 2 or so inches above the Bamboo. Set aside for at least 6 hours. If the water turns cloudy, change it with fresh.
  3. Drain Bamboo well and wring it out.
  4. Put Bamboo in a pot with plenty of water to cover well. Bring to a boil, then keep at a simmer for 1 hour. Drain, rinse and wring out. Return Bamboo to the pot, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil and simmer another 1 hour. Drain rinse and wring out.
  5. Cut off and discard any parts that are very tough. Some chewiness is OK as it will be cooked further in the recipe.
  6. Cut as appropriate for your recipe. Soaked Bamboo can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days, or frozen for longer storage.
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