My cookbook, WASHOKU: Recipes from the Japanese Home Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2005) provides a solid foundation to the principles and practice of washoku (balance and harmony) in the kitchen and at table. This workshop page enables me to guide you further.  ENJOY!  

Lesson Twelve:

The aroma of freshly prepared bamboo shoots is elusive...vaguely reminiscent of just-plucked corn, a bit like artichoke hearts. If all you have ever eaten until now has been canned bamboo shoots you will be utterly amazed at the difference. Hunt down fresh shoots with earth still clinging to them. Scout out Asian groceries near you: depending upon your climate expect to see them come to market as early as March or as late as June. Once you locate a source, I highly recommend you buy two or three (total weight about 2 and 1/2 pounds) and cook them together in the same pot, Once parboiled they can be used in many dishes.

Create a Glorious Bamboo menu:

Meals planned around a single ingredient, prepared in many ways but served together, are referred to tsukushi or zukushi menus. Try creating your own takénoko-zukushi menu. Below are half a dozen ideas to get you started. When mixing, matching and coordinating dishes to create your menu remember the WASHOKU guidelines:

  • 5 colors (bamboo is considered to be "yellow" so combine it with green, red, black and white foods)
  • 5 flavors (sour plum adds tart notes; miso sauce on broiled bamboo is both sweet and salty; spiciness comes from wasabi; peppery kinomé leaf is both spicy and bitter)
  • 5 ways (include a wide range of preparation methods: simmering-and-steeping, stewing, broiling, tossing)
Bamboo & Wakamé Steeped in Smoky Broth
RECIPE available at KANSHAcooking
Bamboo "Sashimi" with Wasabi
(fresh slices, barely blanched)
Bamboo, Carrots, Lotus Root, Snow Peas, Chicken Stew

Broiled Bamboo Slathered in Miso

Bamboo & Wakamé in Clear Soup

Delicate "Princess" Bamboo Tossed in Sour Plum Sauce

RECIPE available at KANSHAcooking


I welcome your feedback -- especially captioned photos with a brief description of your kitchen sessions when you try making the recipes above. Those interested in offering feedback, please download
a set of guidelines for submitting and displaying your work.To further teaching goals, I may post some of the feedback to this site, adding my commentary.