Tuesday, May 06, 2008


"The sun is just rising on a chilly spring morning. The stooped wrinkled old ojisan sits on a stool deep in the dark bamboo forest, a spade in his right hand a flashlight in his left. In his lap is a bottle of shoyu & a pair of wooden hashi. A large half full dirty knapsack lies at his feet. He’s patiently waiting & watching for a bamboo sprout to poke it’s dark furry head out of the soft earth and no sooner does he spot a lump forming on the forest floor than he shuffles into action. Out comes the bamboo shoot and off comes the fuzzy layers of covering. He cracks off the tip of the soft, white flesh, covers the crisp tender layers in shoyu & washes it down with a sip of hot ocha."

I wanna be a farmer!!

A friend of ours who is a farmer told me this is what his father would do in the spring. I don’t know if it’s true but by golly it made me want to be a farmer. If you haven’t ever had fresh takenoko you’re missing out on one of Japan’s most popular spring delicacies. Once our friend gave us a whole garbage bag full of these that he picked from the bamboo forest behind his house. Each one weighed about a kg or more.

I enjoyed a BBQ with a dozen or more varieties of food with takenoko in it. From takenoko rice, to foil wrapped takenoko barbequed & served with butter & shoyu.

I am of the neurotic variety that loves peeling food, so peeling the 50 or so layers of bamboo was no problem. My one & only CAUTION is that you pre-boil it for at least 2 hrs before using, to get rid of the sour taste.

Now, that is sheer beauty!

So sweet husband of love, brought one home one day, & I did indeed become giddy with happiness & unashamedly danced the dance of happiness in the kitchen. And to ended up doing something that would appall any tomato loving Italian (Shield your eyes Jr.) I made takenoko pasta! Oh, come on, it was great. At least I loved it! And the kids loved that for once I was letting them put shoyu on their pasta. (OK, there! I said it, I let my kids put shoyu on their pasta!) And the traditionalist pasta loving hubby liked it too.

I’ll review the ingr. but the procedure is in line with a most primitive pasta making process, so go figure:

¼ c EV olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, sliced
2 dried red peppers, sliced
500 grams of takenoko, parboiled (FORGET NOT!!) & cut into 2” strips
1 bunch of green garlic stems
2 bunches of mushroom
2 tbsp shoyu (yea, you heard me!)
1 small can of Anchovies (believe that!!)

1 kg of pasta

So briefly you do the “olive oil/garlic/pepper” thing. Then separately the fried takenoko/garlic stems/mushroom” thing, adding the olive oil/shoyu/few tbsp of pasta water at the end. And lastly tossing it all with the noodles. And by golly if I had shiso I swear, I would’ve added it too & topped it with slivers of nori. Can everyone say WAAAAFFFUUUUU-Italia-ryori!!!!

Here are few other takenoko ideas if you happen to get your hands on a heap.

- Add it to miso
- Plain fry it with butter & salt or shoyu
- Add it to a stir fry
- Slice them thin & tempura it
- Cut them in half, wrap in foil & barbeque it like potatoes
- Add them to rice when you cook it (add a little butter & salt/shoyu & mushrooms)

Well, we could go on all day but I wanna post this before spring is over & the cute little baby bamboo turns into a forest. Ciao!


Junior said...

Of course, not, that looks really good. I'm all for breaking the "rules" and venturing into the weird and unorthodox. Fusion dinning is the way to go. Keep it up Al.

Jesse Sou Pritchard said...

We just ate Takenoko from our nearby forest. It was yummy. Although we preboiled it in this tsukemono stuff. Didn't know you could just boil it in water...

Spaghetti takenoko? Yumm.

nina said...

I never knew u were supposed to pre-boil it for 2 whole hrs! Is that on a rolling boil or a simmer? Do u peel it 1st? (Just in case I should happen to be thrown into the kitchen w/ a whole takenoko & no experience whatsoever ;)