We all enjoy the crisp sweetness of bamboo shoots. They are a springtime delight and a common ingredient in many Asian dishes.
In most parts of the world, fresh bamboo shoots are a rare delicacy, and when they’re out of season, they’re even rarer and more expensive.
Canned bamboo shoots, on the other hand, are more commonly available but lack the crispness and flavor of fresh bamboo shoots.
If your local grocery store doesn’t have fresh bamboo shoots, or if you prefer not to use canned bamboo shoots in your recipes, there are various substitutes that’ll work just as well.
What Are Bamboo Shoots?
Bamboo shoots or bamboo sprouts are a nutritious and tasty part of the bamboo plant. They are hard on the outside and soft, faintly sweet, and quite crisp on the inside.
The shoots have long been a staple in many Asian recipes, particularly when they are prepared with meaty dishes and salads.
With its crunchy, somewhat sweet center, the vegetable is an excellent addition to chicken soup or beef stew. It’s typically used in Asian fried rice as well.
Bamboo shoots are also among the top most beneficial veggies for the human body. They have low fat content and are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and proteins.
They are, therefore, excellent for a healthy heart, low blood pressure, weight loss, and a robust immune system. Shoots also include lignans and phenolic acid, which have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Now that we are aware of the health advantages, flavor, and texture of bamboo shoots, it’s time to introduce you to other amazing vegetables that are just as crisp, sweet, and wholesome.
Bamboo Shoots Substitutes
Water chestnuts, a staple in Chinese cuisine, give their distinctive crunch to a variety of recipes like moo goo gai pan, for example.
Water chestnuts are an ideal alternative to bamboo shoots in stir-fries, thanks to their sweet and nutty flavor and substantial crunch.
Sliced and canned water chestnuts are available in many grocery stores, but fresh or whole water chestnuts are a better and more flavorsome addition to include in your recipe.
Whatever variety you have on hand, including water chestnuts in your home cooking will definitely broaden your culinary horizons.
If baby corn isn’t already your go-to snack, you’ve at least seen it canned in your local supermarket. In any case, this delectable corn variety is the perfect substitute for bamboo shoots.
Because of its crunchy texture and moderate sweetness, baby corn is a fantastic veggie that can be used as a bamboo shoots substitute in salads, soups, curries, and stir-fries. Cooking baby corn as a side dish for meaty dishes is just as good.
The beautiful thing about baby corn is that, unlike adult corn, you can eat it whole. Another advantage of baby corn is that it’s not as sweet as ordinary corn, making it more versatile and great for all kinds of recipes, especially stir-fries.
The Jerusalem artichoke isn’t a true artichoke, so don’t be misled by the name of this alternative. It’s actually a type of plant also known as earth apple, sunchoke, or sunroot.
A Jerusalem artichoke tastes somewhat sweeter than a potato, and it’s comparable to a water chestnut. It has the same crisp feel as bamboo shoots, but when cooked, it becomes more creamy.
Jerusalem artichokes are very versatile when it comes to cooking. You may boil and mash them like mashed potatoes using butter and salt. You can also fry them as a sweet and crispy snack or roast them with olive oil and herbs.
Bean sprouts give many Asian recipes a juicy crunch, from tasty stir-fries and fatty stews to breakfast egg rolls.
Although they are mostly available in cans, the fresh ones are far better in terms of taste and texture. However, they are harder to find.
Bean sprouts are super crispy and make a juicy crack, but their taste is very neutral, almost like a bland salad.
They contain more than 90% water. When you pair that with the bland taste, you immediately get why they’re almost never eaten raw on their own. A far better option would be mixing them into a tangy salad or adding them to a rich stir-fry to lighten the dish.
When cooked, they absorb the flavors they’re surrounded by, so they are a great bamboo shoots alternative in meat-based recipes with lots of spices and herbs.
Jicama, a root vegetable of Mexican origin, is a popular food item in Latin America and a decent substitute for bamboo shoots.
Jicama is also referred to as the Mexican potato, and for good reason. With its brown skin and white meat, it really resembles a potato.
The edible portion of this root is juicy and crisp, while its flavor is described as a mixture of bamboo shoots, apples, and water chestnut.
When eaten raw, its sweet and nutty flavors blend well in a fresh tangy salad. It may absorb the flavors of other spices, veggies, herbs, and meat when cooked.
This crisp alternative of bamboo shoots is one you should absolutely try, if not for health reasons, then for the sheer pleasure of tasting its distinct flavor.
Asparagus has a flavor much more robust than bamboo stalks. Many people compare the flavor to mushrooms and broccoli, but it tastes more like beans when you cook it.
Asparagus is a versatile vegetable since its flavor changes depending on what you pair it with. During the cooking process, it readily absorbs various tastes. It goes well with garlic and, when combined, can elevate your dish to new heights.
You may cook asparagus in various ways, including boiling, grilling, and frying. Just avoid overcooking it since this can cause it to lose some of its nutrients and crunch.
Hearts of Palm
Palm hearts derive from the core of palm trees and are prevalent in Central and South America and Florida. They are also called palmito, chonta, and palm cabbage.
They taste like water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and asparagus combined. However, when compared, they do taste a pinch sweeter than bamboo shoots.
They give salads a crisp texture, but if you don’t like eating them raw, you can blend them into a creamy dip or grill them with other vegetables, meats, herbs, and spices.
There you have it — the eight best substitutes for bamboo shoots. Next time you want to add a bit of crunch and volume to your dinner while boosting its nutritional profile, try one of our alternatives.
For example, water chestnuts are an excellent choice if you’re looking for a comparable favor with some extra crunch. Try asparagus if you like something with a similar texture but a stronger taste. If you’re looking for a vegetable with a somewhat sweeter taste than bamboo shoots, hearts of palm are another option.
Finally, if you prefer the flavor of bamboo shoots, but you don’t have this vegetable on hand, then pick an alternative from our list to compensate for the crunch, and add a few drops of bamboo essence.