I bought them not knowing what they were or how to cook them. The vendors in the Arranque market all said they were “bamboo shoots” which I was sceptical about, and though they do appear to be commonly referred to as “bamboo shoots or water bamboo shoots,” it seems they are scientifically most accurate as Zizania aquatica L or “Wild Rice Shoots” or gaau sun in Chinese. Many thanks to readers in this previous post that helped to identify the mysterious (to me) greens and with some coaxing, I managed to put a name to the delicacy. Grown in marshy or watery areas, the massive shoots are stripped of their outer layers or husk and a very pale and firm interior stalk is revealed.
They are less dense and fibrous than typical bamboo shoots, and easier to slice thinly. Wash well and set aside. I took inspiration from this post that stir-fried “bamboo shoots” with asparagus and just kind of invented my mixture of flavorings as I went along. The shoots have a very subtle fragrance before cooking, and are rather bland, but they absorb flavors well and have an extremely pleasant texture… I find even more appealing than real and fresh bamboo shoots.
Heat up a wok and add some vegetable oil then add about half a tablespoon or slightly more of finely julienned ginger (young ginger if you can find it) and saute for just a few seconds before adding the sliced wild rice shoots and keep tossing the contents of your wok to prevent burning of your shoots. Add a very modest amount of kikkoman soy sauce, a touch of Shaoxing rice wine and toss some more. Add in the sliced asparagus and keep the stuff moving. After about 30 seconds, when it all looks glossy and cooked, turn off the heat, add a few sprinkles of good sesame oil and serve immediately.
A delicious, relatively healthy vegetarian dish packed with flavor. Takes just minutes to prepare and would go nicely with any protein you might have planned for a Chinese style meal. Will definitely be buying these wild rice shoots the next time I see them!