In Japan, the seasons are a huge part of Japanese food culture.
The food literally reminds us of the season.
You’ll see watermelons in the store and realize summer is coming.
You smell baked sweet potatoes and you’ll know it’s fall.
Thanks to the advancement of agriculture around the world, you can find ingredients anytime, anywhere you want.
You can enjoy eating strawberries, potatoes, and pineapples all year round.
In Japan, “in season”, “旬(Shun)”is a very important concept, which can be seen anywhere you go.
You’ll see posters and special menus from fast food stores and high-end restaurants with the word
“limited time only”, “seasonal”, “This year’s first-” all the time.
So what’s the “Shun” in May??
Takenoko is a baby bamboo.
They usually grow in a bamboo forest scattered next to all the tall bamboos you normally encounter.
Therefore, It’s hard to spot a Takenoko! You can only see the tip above ground, similar to what you see in the picture below.
It’s usually sold in three types:
raw, canned, and dried.
Since, raw takenoko contains natural toxins, you have to boil it and carefully prepare it before you consume it.
Here’s a helpful video on how to boil Takenoko.
So, I know some of you are thinking
“YOU CAN EAT BAMBOO?!”
If you’re a Japanese foodie, I’m sure you’ve seen or tried it before but never realized what it was.
For example, ramen.
Have you ever thought what that small rectangular topping they call Menma?
Yes, that’s TAKENOKO!
If you’re interested in other ways takenoko is prepared, take a look at the photos below.
Takenoko Gohan (Bamboo Shoot Rice)
Takenoko Tempura (Bamboo Shoot Tempura)
A battered and deep fried Takenoko.
The batter makes it crunchy and juicy.
Takenoko can be used in many ways for its crunchy texture and its natural umami flavor. Since bamboo grows extremely quick and can only be harvested shortly after it breaks the surface, you’ll only see raw takenoko available in the market for a limited time. Don’t miss your chance!