Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Bamboo Recipe - Bamboo Rice Cakes

This dish was inspired by Chinese lo bak go, 蘿蔔糕. It is a dish traditionally eaten at Chinese New Year, and in English, it is a dimsum turnip cake usually made with daikon radish and rice flour.

Instead of radish, we added sauteed king oyster mushrooms from the local Asian market (Pleurotus eryngii), chopped ramps leaves (Allium tricoccum), and chopped, boiled bamboo (Phyllostachys aureosulcata) to the rice flour base. The "cake" is steamed in a glass casserole dish until firm, then cubed and fried to make crispy outer edges. This didn't last a day in our house, we all adore Asian flavors.

The bamboo shoots that we collect in our area are the invasive yellow groove bamboo, not recommended for planting in your own yard, as there are now laws in place in Connecticut that make you responsible for the cost of removing the bamboo from your neighbor's yard once it invades (and it will, this is considered a "running" bamboo rather than the clumping kind). We collect shoots from one of the several established and growing patches in the area, cutting the shoots when they are about 1-2 feet tall, and still fully enclosed in the outer, variegated sheath. We split them in half, peel off the outer sheath, and boil the tender shoots in water that has some white rice added, then drain away the rice and use the bamboo in recipes or vacuum pack and freeze the cooked shoots. The season to collect the bamboo shoots is short, about  two weeks, before they get too tall and tough, and the leaf stalks emerge with the slender leaves.

We have also used different mushrooms in these cakes, including some wild winecaps (Stropharia rugosoannulata) and some baby wild hemlock reishi (Ganoderma tsugae) that we collect before any color appears. Both versions were quite delicious, and I suppose any mushroom can be used, once fully cooked. Again, we are weighing the dry ingredients here rather than using volumes.

Bamboo Cakes                makes about 6 servings as an appetizer

US measurements:

3.5 oz. chopped mushrooms
oil for cooking the mushrooms
1.4 oz. chopped ramps leaves (or chopped scallions)
7 oz. cooked, well chopped bamboo shoots
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated dry garlic
 1 1/2 c. rice flour
1 c. water

International measurements:
100 g chopped mushrooms
oil for cooking the mushrooms
40 g chopped ramps leaves (or chopped scallions)
200 g cooked, well chopped bamboo shoots
1 g chopped fresh thyme
8 g salt
4 g granulated dry garlic
165 g rice flour
200 ml water

1. Saute the chopped mushrooms over medium low heat in a bit of oil, cooking about 5 minutes until lightly browned.
2. Add the chopped ramps and chopped bamboo, and cook for another 3 minutes while stirring often. Remove from the heat and season with the salt, chopped thyme, and granulated garlic.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine the rice flour and water. Add the cooked mushroom and bamboo mixture and stir, it will be soupy.
4. Prepare a large steamer pot. Pour the mixture into a 6 c./1.5 L glass dish and steam it covered for about 25 minutes. Let the cake cool to room temperature and then chill to firm up.
5. Release the firm rice cake from the glass dish, and cut into large cubes, then re-fry in hot oil or grill lightly to crisp up the outside. Serve with soy sauce or dumpling sauce for dipping.

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