Jun 13, 2011

Obonai Takenoko are Now in Season! Enjoy at Their Best!

Bamboo Shoots, Takenoko (タケノコ、筍), are common ingredients in many Asian cuisines. Typically, Takenoko refers to large shoots (or sprouts) of Moso Bamboo. As seen in the picture below, common Takenoko are large in size; they are cut in thin stripes and boiled to get rid of the acrid taste before cooking or available in stores as dried or canned ingredients.

Sansai available from the spring to early summer in Japan.
 (Source/ The Japan Times)

Nemagaridake is much thinner, compared to the common type.

However, another variation of bamboo shoots, Nemagaridake (Sasa kurilensis) is common in northern Japan. They are also refered to as Chishima-zasa, whose name vary in regions.

Their most unique characteristics is, compared to that of Moso Bamboo, they are smaller and thinner in size, tender, and flavorful. They are easily prepared, because it does not have the acrid, bitter taste. You can even simply boil them and enjoy with your favorite dip.

Bamboo Shoots in Obonai Area:

Nemagaridake is said to grow naturally in the mountains whose soil is abundant of broad-leaf trees because it provides a suitable condition in terms of softness and humidity. Obonai Area, at the foot of Akita Komagatake, has that! No wonder this area is known for the rich Sansai harvest, especially, the delicious Bamboo Shoots!

The Obonai Takenoko (生保内たけのこ) is so sweet and tender. The thickness is about the size of an adult’s thumb. They are cooked by simply boiled and served with your favorite sauce (mayonnaise, soy, salt, spicy sauce, etc.), or cooked in Miso soup, stir-fried, steamed, and deep-fried (Tempura).

(From Left) Fresh Bamboo Shoots, Peeling Machine, Stir-fried, Tempura-ed.

The Sansai harvesting is seasonal; the local people are now very busy going to the mountains to find the delicious food. At home some people even own a peeling machine (photo) to make the peeling process faster! They can it and sell it at the markets.

In this season, the Bamboo Shoots are enjoyed freshly every day! Obonai Bamboo Shoots Festival in Semboku City are now being held until the end of this month. You can enjoy a wide variety of recipes using these bamboo shoots at local restaurants!

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