04 Jul2011

What is that? A type of grass? Yup, you guessed it. You are so smart… :)

Bamboo is indeed a type of grass. A ginormous blade of grass, if you ask me. Bermuda for giants maybe. :) It’s probably in the same “believe it or not category” as banana trees being a giant herb. They are, really… Heeheehee. I bought this bamboo shoot because it looked like a fresh bamboo shoot. Of course I know next to nothing about bamboo shoots so when I got home and one of the crew took a look at it, he shook his head, saying it was simply way too old. This was not a good bamboo shoot in his opinion. Lesson learned. And why I didn’t know that since I already wrote a post on bamboo shoots years ago, here, I will never know?! Must be getting old and forgetful. :(

At any rate, you peel off the outer layers…

…keep stripping off layer after layer…

…until you’ve reached the top and you have a very pale colored piece of bamboo. You only use the top say 2 feet or less of the shoot…

…take a sharp knife and cut off the tough bits…

…and either leave it whole for boiling or cut it in half. The patterns in the stalk are fascinating. But boiling it all properly according to tradition, folklore and superstition (to avoid bitterness) is a whole other thing altogether!



  1. Ging says:

    why is dabong bitter? or am i just buying old, no longer good for cooking dabong? :-(

    Jul 4, 2011 | 2:23 pm


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  3. sleepless in Seattle says:

    Our very small Rice and Sugar farmland in Pampanga,were peppered with wild bamboos,so bamboo shoots are plentiful..i miss the fresh harvested shoots (labong) MM..i love your site ,it always bring me back home.Thanks.

    Jul 4, 2011 | 4:12 pm

  4. MP says:

    Hi MM. After seeing your loot, did your crew tell you how to spot fresh bamboo shoot?

    Jul 4, 2011 | 4:17 pm

  5. Footloose says:

    Can I say you were bamboozled? If the shoot looks like it’s ready to be made into some handicraft project as in the last pic, it’s a tad too old to stir-fry.

    Jul 4, 2011 | 5:44 pm

  6. Cyrus says:

    Sir I missed this so much, I live in a barrio in Ozamiz City before, and when August comes, we have plenty of this, kugihan kaayo ko mukamang ilawom sa Kawayanan para manguha ani, lami ni siya gisahon subakan ug sardinas or with Kamunggay and coconut milk. Thank you sir for the photos. I can’t wait to get back home again.

    Jul 4, 2011 | 5:50 pm

  7. Maria Isabel Rodrigo says:

    super sarap gawing acharang labong

    Jul 4, 2011 | 6:19 pm

  8. Gej says:

    MM, would you know which bamboo varieties are used for the edible labong that is eaten?

    Around 20 years ago, I had the fortune of staying in Beijing. In one of the dinners given by our hosts, one of the courses featured exquisite, small, slender bamboo shoots. They had the diameter of a thin pencil, about 304 inches long, and its shape was like a miniature “Buddha” or bottle bamboo – something like coke bottles piled up. And they tasted great too, enough for me not to forget even after 20 years. Wonder what kind of bamboo shoots those were.

    This reminded me of ubod ng buko, or heart of palm. Nice to know you already wrote about it several times. That you have Zubulumpia perhaps is enough indication of how you regard ubod.

    Jul 4, 2011 | 6:48 pm

  9. Papa Ethan says:

    Labong is one of my all-time favorite vegetables, especially when sauteed together with saluyot. I learned from my boyhood summers in La Union that the best labong for the picking is when the shoot is about 12-inches tall, or about the size of a rhinoceros horn (as we would imagine it). The shredded shoots are sometimes rubbed with rock salt then given a good rinse. This takes away the bitterness. Some bamboo species though have mild-tasting shoots that don’t require this “cleansing ritual”.

    My grandmother, however, learned a technique from the barrio doc on how to do just the opposite: purposely embitter the bamboo by whipping the base of the clump of mature trees with some sort of a medicinal vine. In our barrio, bamboo is cultivated, harvested and sold as a building material. So if your very own “plantation” gets frequently robbed of the precious shoots, there’s little left to grow into usable bamboo poles. Grandma always left a couple of clumps edible, though, by sparing them the magic whip.

    Jul 4, 2011 | 7:24 pm

  10. Anne :-) says:

    I never knew it was cleaned this way, I’ll appreciate ginataang labong everytime I eat it….

    Jul 4, 2011 | 7:45 pm

  11. Connie C says:

    Yeah, MM. Footloose is right. Better leave that piece to dry, shellac it and paint calligraphy or the zubuchon logo and/ or menu on the other side.

    Jul 4, 2011 | 8:40 pm

  12. Clarissa says:

    I actually thought, like Gej, that they are like ubod, and I thought they would taste like ubod, which I am fond of eating raw. But it’s bitter raw? Erggh. But this is cool. I’m tempted to fall a growing bamboo somewhere just to peel off the layers :D

    I suggested to my mom before that we plant bamboo in our backyard for an endless supply of labong and she looked at me funny. I never knew that they would grow wildly once they start sprouting. Like a hectare of bamboo or something.

    Jul 4, 2011 | 9:29 pm

  13. betty q. says:

    Gej…my trustworthy Chinese connection told me that all bamboo species are edible. What you need to go after are the tender ones just sprouting and about a few weeks old . The more SLENDER they are, the more tender they will be. Most likely these are the ones you had in Beijing! So, you can just imagine how many shoots are needed to make a pound of it! Though it would be far more convenient to buy the canned ones ready to cook, nothing beats freshly harvested shoots done properly for it has a hint of sweeteness to it.

    Jul 4, 2011 | 10:50 pm

  14. berntench says:

    Hi Marketman,

    On a totally not related comment, I saw you today at the US Alumni event! I was the girl who shook your hand and said that I read your blog everyday!

    I looked for you after, I wanted to ask you a gazillion stuff, but alas, you were nowhere in sight. Maybe next time.

    Jul 4, 2011 | 11:44 pm

  15. natie says:

    @Footloose–bamboozled! hahahaha!! what a wordsmith you are–“panday-pulong” in ilonggo..

    MM-from a Korean grocery chain,I buy a whole, blanched bamboo shoot just a little bit bigger than a fist. It makes a mid-sized pot of ”tambo,saluyot (or okra) with shrimp or blue crab, ginamos nga binayo–with gata”, of course. i use the mandoline to slice it paper-thin. a popular dish for a gathering of homesick ilonggos.

    Jul 5, 2011 | 5:52 am

  16. Marketman says:

    natie, could I trouble you for a more detailed recipe? I would like to try the dish that several readers seem to have mentioned and are obviously fond of… berntench, yes, that was me… :) The place was just too packed and loud… we went because my wife’s college sponsored the event, and we left soon after. :) I met more people who read my blog than folks who went to either my undergraduate college or my graduate school… hahaha. Gej, sorry, not sure what types of bamboo are edible…but bettyq says almost all varieties if harvested young enough. And yes, I love ubod, particularly when cooked with copious amounts of lard… Maria Isabel Rodrigo, you were reading my mind, see pickled bamboo shoots, the next post after this. Cyrus, happy to bring you a snapshot from home… footloose, yes, definitely bamboozled, but wiser now. MP, it must be much shorter, and the flesh still mostly solid, no segments of “air” yet in the shoot… does that make sense? Ging, you are buying old, but perhaps you aren’t prepping it well. I once just stir-fried labong without blanching or boiling it and THAT was a bad idea. There are several tips on the net for cooking it to avoid bitterness…

    Jul 5, 2011 | 6:41 am

  17. GayeN says:

    Hi MM. Bamboo shoots are a staple here in Pangasinan. And the crew is right, this is way too old. We harvest them when the shoots are less than 14-16 inches from the base and still has no “leaves” like the one you bought. We don’t harvest shoots that are more than 2 feet. If you peel the shoot, there shouldn’t be “holes” between the segments. It should be compact and still tender when sliced. We have a joke here that if you harvest and cooked a shoot that’s too old, you cooked the “stairs” . Bahay-kubos here use “kawayan” or bamboo stairs. haha

    My grandmother taught us how to prepare the bamboo shoots for cooking. She always to parboiled the sliced(julienne) shoots to remove the bitterness. After parboiling she squeezes out the excess water and cooks the “labong” either atcharang labong (cooked liked “sauteed adobo”, sorry I don’t have a better description ) or dinengdeng with grilled fish, saluyot, sitaw.

    Jul 5, 2011 | 9:06 am

  18. GayeN says:

    Forgot to mention that my grandmother parboils the shoots with lots of salt(1/4 cup to a kilo if I remember correctly). After parboiling, she rinses the shoots in cold water and squeezes out the excess water, forming balls of cooked shoots in the process. You can rinse it again one more time if it’s still too salty. You can already store this in the freezer.

    Jul 5, 2011 | 9:20 am

  19. Betchay says:

    We have buddha bamboo in the garden.I noticed the clump was getting thinner then I learned one of the helper was harvesting the shoots!So I guess Betty Q is right, all types of bamboo can be eaten!

    Jul 5, 2011 | 11:58 am

  20. Lava Bien says:

    Man, I miss ginataang labong from Lucban, Quezon. Actually, I miss all the ginataan dishes period, with other veggies, fresh water shrimp, crabs or inihaw muna na tilapia before cooking with gata (too slimy if you don’t grill tilapia first)

    Jul 5, 2011 | 12:29 pm

  21. Ziggy says:

    Bamboo shoots have a little bit cyanide in them. There are cases though that grazers get killed when they consume enormous amounts of it. The bitter taste is your clue that it still needs more boiling to kill whatever poison that is left. Don’t worry it won’t kill you. Well unless you decide to graze on it for days. :)

    Jul 5, 2011 | 12:41 pm

  22. Fards says:

    MM, I read your post the other day and again tonight and it occurred to me that you were referring to dabong. That is how it is called in my hometown. I just love dabong especially when put in the soup of utan kamunggay. Actually, I love it in whatever way it is cooked Now I am craving for it.

    Jul 5, 2011 | 2:37 pm

  23. Gej says:

    Thanks betty q (did you receive my e-mail where I mentioned an alternative e-mail address?). That’s good to know. Better start harvesting from our prolific buddha bamboo, and the golden bamboo, and buho. I must find which bamboo produces those shoots of 20 years ago.
    Thanks GayeN – I was wondering how big the shoots could be allowed to grow before they are harvested.
    I remember seeing a picture in a magazine how the Chinese culture their bamboo shoots. At a certain time of the year they cover ALL their (fully pruned) bamboos with a hill of soil ( that makes the plantation look like Bohol’s Chocolate Hills). The hills were about 2-3 feet high. Then I suppose they just wait for the shoots to emerge – similar to asparagus in spring.

    Jul 5, 2011 | 8:34 pm

  24. natie says:

    Will do, MM–at work right now…

    Jul 6, 2011 | 12:47 am

  25. betty q. says:

    I did, Gej! I think you will be happy with the new one I am doing right now as well…am fine tuning it. It is another MUST TRY! THANKS to you, I am having fun doing these things…..keeps me occupied! Next best thing to dreaming spending time in the ZUBU kitchen!

    OK…here is an idea Gej…one early spring, I was weeding all 6 plots and also asked my neighbours in the garden to dump their weeds on one of the raised boxes that had asparagus crowns. The weeds were really piled up high and formed a huge mound. ….come late spring, I noticed these white tips peeking through the weeds. I had WHITE ASPARAGUS! So, maybe that will work with the bamboo hills as well…if you don’t intend to let it grow to bamboo sticks!

    Jul 6, 2011 | 9:45 am

  26. Gej says:

    betty q – Wow you have white asparagus! So far I could only dream of having those. Must be a thrill seeing them rise from the dead. And a greater thrill to cook and eat them with family. You’re right , the weeds mixed with soil would make it easier for the shoots to penetrate. Just not too fresh rotting matter touching the plants – they might get damaged by the rotting organisms, and the heat of the decomposing matter – just a suggestion.
    bamboo sticks – ha ha!
    I’m excited to find out what you are doing.
    Thanks MM for making your blog a great way to share ideas.

    Jul 6, 2011 | 6:32 pm


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