Hi friends! I am here to share with you an easy, authentic Chinese recipe – braised bamboo shoots. It only contains three ingredients and four spices, and takes ~15 minutes to cook. A quick weekday night dinner indeed.
There are two types of bamboo shoots – Spring bamboo shoots, and winter bamboo shoots. Both work with this recipe. While fresh bamboo shoots are hard to come by, Asian stores almost always have frozen ones. We came across fresh bamboo shoots randomly and I just have to get it. And braised bamboo shoots is my favorite way to cook them.
So here are the three ingredients I used: a bag of pre-skinned bamboo shoots (a little over a pound), a few cloves of garlic, and a thick slice of Chinese bacon. Some people use ginger instead of garlic, and I would have used a couple slices of ginger if I had any. Not everyone cook this dish with garlic either. I personally love the taste of cooked garlic so I always try to include some whenever possible.
Chinese bacon usually taste sweet and salty, which is how you want braised dish to taste like. The fat also cooks out, which is absorbed by the bamboo shoots and makes them extra tasty. You can totally skip the meat to make this dish vegan though. The bamboo shoot will still taste great!
The three main spices to make braised anything are sugar, Shaoxing wine, and soy sauce. Traditional Chinese dishes always use rock sugar, and it is usually melted in hot oil in order to coat whatever ingredient you wish to braise. I do not have rock sugar, so I used raw sugar. You can use any sweetener, including maple syrup or honey.
The first step is to cut the bamboo shoots into bite size and the meat into small bits. Someone once asked me how Chinese people eat meat without knife and fork. The truth is, almost everything in transitional Chinese dishes has been cut to bite size before cooking, so one can use chopsticks to pick a piece up, put it into one’s mouth, and chew it with one’s mouth closed. Except noodles, which you are supposed to slurp in order to effectively cool the noodle down to prevent mouth burn.
I cut a few slit into each garlic cloves but kept them whole. You can cut the garlic however way you want. I generally keep my herbs – such as ginger, pepper, green onion, and garlic whole, so I can pick them out before serving. In terms of green onion, I usually tie a bundle of them into a knot, so they release their flavor but do not disintegrate. This is particularly important when cooking soups, so the soup remains clear and debris-free.
Second, heat up some oil and brown the garlic. I used only one table spoon of oil because I knew the Chinese bacon will release some.
As soon as you can smell the garlic (30 seconds to a minute), add meat. In my case, the Chinese bacon has been cured so it only takes minutes to cook though. Whatever meat you are using, just make sure that it is seared before adding the bamboo shoots.
Once the bamboo shoots is added, stir everything so all the bamboo shoot pieces are coated with oil. Cook the whole mixture for another 3 minutes or so, until the bamboo shoots become brown on their edges.
Now it is time to add Shaoxing wine (1 tablespoon), soy sauce (2 tablespoon), and a bit sugar/sweetener (1 teaspoon). I also added 1 tablespoons of water.
I did not use much sugar because the Chinese bacon was already sweet. If you are cooking this dish with non-flavored meat, make sure you double the amount of the sugar/sweetener. Now give everything a quick mix and cover for another 5 minutes.
When the bamboo shoots turns brown, it is time to open the lid and give the whole thing another stir. There should not be much liquid left at this point. If there is, do not panic. Just turn up the heat to reduce the liquid. Salt to taste (I did not add any salt because the Chinese bacon was already salty).
And here it is! It is great with steamed rice.