There are a variety of bamboo species harvested for human consumption, each of which boasts different sizes, textures, colors and flavors. Bamboo is lauded for its high fiber content, protein and Vitamin B6. It is extremely popular throughout Asian cuisine, though different regions use the plant in different ways.
Chinese and Japanese cuisines tend to use bamboo in subtly flavored soups or stir-fries. The bamboo used in these northern and eastern Asian countries need to boiled prior to using, typically several times to get rid of its naturally bitter flavor. These varieties are also sliced thinly prior to boiling.
India and its close neighbors use a similar technique in boiling their bamboo prior to cooking, though these countries may add herbs such as turmeric for coloring and flavoring. Bamboo is used here in curries and pickles. In Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore, bamboo is a very popular vegetable used in stews and salads. Varieties in these countries are also boiled vigorously prior to use as some of them contain traces of cyanide.
Outside of Asia, bamboo is most often available in a jarred or canned format. While neither is preferable to any fresh version of course, I would personally choose the jarred format as they tend to hold their original texture and flavor better than canned versions.
Here are some of our favorite recipes with bamboo: