Bamboo salad

Bamboo salad

Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong
Stuart Scott

Throughout the markets of Myanmar, I had seen street vendors selling cooked red bamboo. I was intrigued as to where the red bamboo came from, until a local lady shared the secret with me. She walked me to her cornfield (as you do in Myanmar), and peeled the green husks from a corn cob. She placed them in a pot of water with the young bamboo, brought it to the boil and presto: the water and bamboo turned red! This magic trick only works with fresh bamboo. If you can’t get any, you can use whole bamboo shoots vacuum-packed in brine; these are usually pre-cooked, so they don’t need to be boiled, and won’t turn red.


Quantity Ingredient
1 fresh young bamboo shoot
1 corn cob husk
1 handful lemon basil, sliced
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, pounded into a powder
2 red asian shallots, sliced
1 teaspoon garlic oil, (see note)
1/2 lime, juiced


  1. Cut away and discard the tough outer layer of the bamboo shoot, then cut the shoot into quarters lengthways. Place in a saucepan with the corn husk, cover with plenty of cold water and bring to the boil. Allow to boil for 30 minutes, or until the bamboo becomes a light red colour. (The corn husk is what makes the bamboo turn red – see introduction.)
  2. Drain off the water, then add fresh water and bring to the boil again. Boil for a further 30 minutes, then remove the bamboo and allow to cool.
  3. Run two toothpicks along the length of the bamboo, cutting it into long thin shreds. Now cut the bamboo into 4ƒcm lengths and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and a pinch of sea salt. Mix ƒwell and serve.


  • To make fried garlic and garlic oil, pour 250 ml vegetable oil into a wok and heat to 180°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds. Add 6 finely chopped garlic cloves and fry until golden — be careful not to overcook the garlic, as it will keep cooking once it is removed from the heat. Strain the garlic through a metal sieve and place on paper towels to dry. Store the fried garlic in an airtight container for up to 4 days; this recipe makes about 2 tablespoons. Reserve the garlic-flavoured oil to use in salads; it will keep for up to 2 weeks if stored in a cool place.
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