22 Aug2005

Labong / Bamboo Shoots

by Marketman

Panda Bears eat up to 1/3 of their weight in fresh bamboo shoots every day! abam1An inefficient digestive system means they are unable to extract much from each mouthful so they have to pass serious volume through their plumbing to keep nourished. If they had to shop at the Salcedo market for their bamboo shoots at PHP40 a kilo, they would have to spend upwards of PHP2,000 a day on bamboo!!! That’s about PHP730,000 or USD13,000 a year! Now where would a panda bear get that kind of money just looking adorable and cute, albeit endangered? But seriously, the rains usher in all kind of new growth and bamboo shoots are here in a big way. I bought some brilliant looking bamboo shoots last year from Nueva Vizcaya and stir-fried them Chinese style. No one told me you had to BOIL them first and I nearly had throat seizures — how can a Panda digest that???

Last weekend at the market I bought another bamboo shoot after my suki explained that you had to blanch them first to remove some of the “itchiness”. abam2Bamboo belong to the genera Bambusa, Dendocalamus, Giganthocloa, etc. and is part of the grass family, though one WHOPPING big grass if you ask me. Many bamboo shoots are edible (but not all) and some contain a lot more prussic acid that renders them dangerous for human consumption. If you peel cut, blanch and cook bamboo shoots very soon after they are harvested they have an almost sweetish, delicious flavor. Wait a few hours longer and they can get bitter. Most Chinese cooks will boil the center core of the bamboo shoot in rice washing for about 8-10 minutes (that sounds longer than just blanching it!) before stir frying. It is one ingredient that is almost as good out of a can as it is fresh and boiled. Frankly, I prefer the fresh and boiled version as it has less of that “tin can taste”. Besides the stir-fries, some people like to prepare this with gata (coconut milk) as a vegetable, or prawns and gata.



  1. acidboy says:

    yes, bamboo shoots – one of the staple chinese ingredients we ethnic chinese should learn to prepare, but with the fast pace of life we have yet to even learn- much like other hard-to-prepare stuffs like sea cucumber, dried mushroom, si-but soup, dried chrysanthemum flowers….

    Aug 22, 2005 | 12:15 pm


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  3. suzette says:

    i had guinataang kuhol with labong and it was great! i know you can also add this to dinuguaan… what else?

    Aug 22, 2005 | 3:51 pm

  4. fried-neurons says:

    Ick. This is one of the things I’ve always hated. I don’t think I can ever develop a taste for it. Just like ampalaya and eggplant. I’ll just wait for your next post. :-D

    Aug 22, 2005 | 5:36 pm

  5. Bubut says:

    we usually saute (garlic, onion, tomatoes) labong with pork and santol rind, and added saluyot. A great viand especially during rainy season.

    Aug 22, 2005 | 7:16 pm

  6. Maricel says:

    Labong makes me feel dizzy. I can take it though in itsy bitsy pieces like the little shards of them found in hacao he! he!

    Aug 23, 2005 | 8:43 am

  7. Wilson Cariaga says:

    In ilocos we call it “rabong”. . . well we usually cook it with bagoong and saluyot along with a generous amount of stock. . .hmmm and also make an atsara version of it. . . it’s yummy. . .

    Aug 23, 2005 | 9:29 am

  8. lee says:

    we call it “tambo” here in bacolod and is usually cooked with gata, saluyot, corn, and those poor emaciated crabs…

    Aug 23, 2005 | 10:06 am

  9. Marketman says:

    Gosh, didn’t realize bamboo shoots were so popular around the country… Glad to hear there are so many ways that it is enjoyed! Still can’t imagine how a Panda can consume 50+ kilos of this stuff a day!

    Aug 23, 2005 | 1:32 pm

  10. Midge says:

    Bamboo shoots! I love the stuff: specially if they’re cooked guinataan-style with coconut milk and just enough bagoong to flavor the dish! They’re also fantastic in chop suey and siomai, by the way.

    Aug 24, 2005 | 4:15 pm

  11. rina says:

    another bizarre but good food experience…very very fresh sliced bamboo shoots with a dip of mayo which I had in kaoshung. i have gone through that food memory several times over asking was it really bamboo shoots or perhaps it was something else but my dad who was with me that time concurs that yes we were served bamboo shoots with a mayo dip (hows that for something different?)

    Sep 29, 2005 | 11:17 pm

  12. Jose says:

    I think the secret to Labong is the way it is cut. Most vendors in Metro Manila chop Labong with a sharp knife. My favorite way is to cut Labong, however, is to use a carpenter’s plainer. The slices are very thin and transparent. Then you squeeze out the bitter juice. No need to blance it unless you want to put it away for use a few days later. It is then boiled until cooked. Standard ingredients for a Labong dish for me is coconut milk (not too thick and not too thin) and saluyot. Then, depending on my mood, the place; the time of year or day: clean snails (“ige” is best. This looks like kuhol, a little smaller, and has cornered rather than rounded edges. I don’t risk eating snails at night); alimasag; suahe; small lobsters; freshwater shrimps.

    Oct 2, 2005 | 5:16 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    Interesting way to get paper thin slices…a carpenters planer. I would suggest a mandoline but it might be too delicate for a large piece of bamboo shoot!

    Oct 2, 2005 | 6:48 pm

  14. faithful reader says:

    Try it with chicken as sahog and santol as a souring agent. with a little saluyot.

    Mar 11, 2009 | 1:47 am


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