3 Ways to Buy and Cook with Bamboo

Here's how to work fresh, canned, and vacuum-packed bamboo into your favorite dishes

Fresh bamboo, vacuum-packed bamboo, and canned bamboo.
Bamboo is typically available fresh, vacuum-packed, and canned at Asian markets.SAVEUR

Bamboo shoots are widely used through much of Asia, but fresh ones can be hard to find in the U.S., especially outside their growing seasons in winter and spring. However you buy them, here’s how to work them into your favorite dishes.

Fresh

These are great in stir-fries, but they also take well to soups, where they both absorb the flavors of the broth and imbue it with their own earthy savoriness in a way that parboiled versions do not. If you can find fresh shoots, peel off the husk by making a shallow cut lengthwise, then cut off the tough bottom end. Slice the rest and use immediately.

Vacuum-Sealed

A similar consistency to the canned variety, vacuum-packed bamboo shoots are parboiled but usually packaged whole, so you can slice them to your liking.

Canned

Many Asian markets carry canned, parboiled bamboo, either packed in chunks or cut into thin slices. Because they're partially cooked, use them in quick, high-heat preparations such as stir-fries to retain some of their crunch.

Our Best Bamboo Recipes

Fresh Bamboo Stir-Fry with Sweet Peppers
Fresh Bamboo Stir-Fry with Sweet Peppers
Garlic and ginger infuse thinly sliced fresh bamboo shoots with plenty of flavor, while red bell pepper adds color and sweetness. Get the recipe for Fresh Bamboo Stir-Fry with Sweet Peppers »Jenny Huang
Sichuan Chicken Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Mushrooms
Sichuan Chicken Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Mushrooms
This simple chicken soup is studded with tender pieces of fresh bamboo and garnished with the lacy veil of the bamboo mushroom. Get the recipe for Sichuan Chicken Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Mushrooms »Jenny Huang
Shanghai Stir-Fried Rice Cakes (Chao Nian Gao)
Shanghai Stir-Fried Rice Cakes (Chao Nian Gao)
Toothsome canned bamboo shoots and chewy rice cakes bring delightful texture to this spicy vegetarian stir-fry. Get the recipe for Shanghai Stir-Fried Rice Cakes (Chao Nian Gao) »Ingalls Photography