How To Cook Bamboo Shoots?

Bamboo shoots are a common element found in many Chinese recipes. You can find them tinned, bottled, or frozen, but for the authentic taste and crunch, you may prefer to prepare them for yourself. To do this, you’ll need to know how to cook bamboo shoots properly at home, as we will explain in this article.

Are Raw Bamboo Shoots Poisonous?

Are Raw Bamboo Shoots Poisonous

Raw bamboo shoots contain a toxin called cyanogenic glycoside, which, when chewed, releases hydrogen cyanide. 

This is because chewing and digestion cause the action of hydrolysis and subsequent cyanide release. For this reason, you should not eat raw bamboo shoots, as it can make you unwell. 

They also taste really bitter, so would be pretty unpleasant to eat raw anyway. Thorough cooking destroys the toxin and makes the bamboo shoots safe and pleasant to eat. 

What are Bamboo Shoots Used for in Cooking?

Bamboo shoots are popular in Chinese cooking. They are often used in meat or stir-fry dishes along with other vegetables. 

They provide a pleasant crunchy, slightly sweet texture and taste. You can add them to stews, salads, or soups.

How Long Do Bamboo Shoots Take to Boil?

Place prepared, raw, sliced bamboo shoots into cold water and put the pot on medium heat, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to simmer and cook for a further 45 to 50 minutes until the shoots are tender. 

See the full guide on how to cook bamboo shoots later in the article.

How Do You Get the Bitter Taste Out of Bamboo Shoots?

To remove the bitter flavor, bamboo shoots are often packed with rice bran which can be soaked in water that is used for cooking the shoots. 

Uncooked rice will also help, and you can use the soaking or cooking water from rice in place of plain water to boil your bamboo shoots. 

Some people like adding some red chili peppers as well, as this also helps remove the bitter taste. 

Can I Eat Bamboo Shoots From My Yard?

Most varieties of bamboo produce edible shoots. The shoots are the first emergence of new bamboo culms that appear each spring. 

You can harvest the shoots when they are about 3 to 5 inches long. They will need to be boiled to remove the toxins they contain before eating. 

Is it Healthy to Eat Bamboo Shoots?

Bamboo shoots contain many beneficial substances, including vitamins, minerals, protein amino acids, and carbohydrates. They are especially rich in thiamine, niacin, and vitamins A, B6, and E. 

How to Cook Bamboo Shoots

If you’ve purchased vacuum-packed or canned bamboo shoots, then you only need to rinse them. They don’t require pre-cooking and can be added directly to any recipe.

This helpful video can show you how to prepare your bamboo shoots and cook them ready for use in all your favorite recipes:

  1. Wash fresh bamboo shoots thoroughly under running water. Warm water is best to get rid of any dirt. Then drain them well. 
  1. Place the shoots on a flat cutting board. Using a sharp vegetable knife, carefully slice each shoot’s tough outer green layer, right along its entire length, starting from the top.
  1. Peel off the green outer layer. It can be pretty tough. Continue until the white inner of the shoot is left. 
  1. Keep cutting and peeling off the layers until you are left with a shoot that has a tender, soft texture. If the flesh is still hard, peel off another layer and so on. 
  1. Chop off the end of the shoot at the root end (the wider part) and discard, as it will be bitter.
  1. Recheck all of your shoots to ensure you have no tough parts remaining. They should be soft. Slice them lengthways a few times or cut them into rounds if you prefer.
  1. Find a heavy-based cooking pot with a lid, place the bamboo shoots inside and cover them with water until they are submerged to about an inch below the water level. 
  1. You can pre-soak or boil some plain rice and use the water to cook the bamboo shoots. This is said to help remove any bitterness from the bamboo shoots. The rice can be used to make a separate dish later.
  1. Bring the bamboo shoots to a boil, then set on a lower heat to gently simmer for 45 minutes. Check the water level a few times while cooking and add more if required. The shoots should remain submerged.
  1. After 45 minutes, test the shoots to see how tender they are with a skewer. The skewer should go into without resistance. If they are still a little firm, put them back on the heat for an additional 5 to 10 minutes before testing again.
  1. Once the shoots are tender, turn off the heat. Leave them in the water for about 10 minutes until they start to cool, then remove them from the water by draining or using tongs. 
  1. Your bamboo shoots are now ready to be used in any recipe you wish. Enjoy.


Bamboo shoots add a pleasant and authentic crunch and flavor to Chinese dishes. They are easy to grow yourself, or you can pick them up in an oriental store. 

Although preparing fresh shoots yourself can seem a bit labor-intensive, you can do it in bulk and then store your prepared shoots by freezing them. They will remain good to use for several months. 

There are many other articles about bamboo on our site, as well as many other interesting topics. Why not take a closer look?

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