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Simmered Bamboo Shoot and Chicken Meatballs

Wakatake-ni, literally, “simmered wakame and young bamboo shoot,” is a classic Japanese dish typically served in the spring, when the first tender bamboo shoots make their appearance. This recipe becomes an ideal vegetarian dish if a vegetable-based dashi stock of kombu and dried shiitake mushrooms is used.

(per serving)

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Boiled bamboo shoot
  • Dried cut wakame, 8 g / 0.3 oz.; use 120 g / 4 oz. after rehydration
  • 1-2 boiled bamboo shoots,*1 packed or canned; 300 g / 11 oz.
  • 200 g / 7 oz. ground chicken
  • About 1 T finely chopped bottom slices of bamboo shoot*2
  • 3 T finely chopped onion
  • 2 t granulated sugar
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 egg
  • 1 T water
  • 1 t potato starch or cornstarch
Simmering liquid
  • 500 ml / 2 C dashi stock
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 3 T Kikkoman Light Color Soy Sauce
  • 2 T Kikkoman Manjo Mirin
  • 2 T sake
  • 10 kinome, sansho Japanese mountain pepper sprouts
  • *1 C (U.S. cup) = approx. 240 ml; 1 T = 15 ml; 1 t = 5 ml


  1. 1

    In a bowl, soak the dried cut wakame in water for 3-5 minutes or according to package instructions.*3

  2. 2

    If whole, cut the bamboo shoots in half horizontally. Cut the bamboo tips lengthwise into 6-8 equal pieces. Then slice the bottom half of the shoots horizontally into 1 cm- / 0.4 in.-thick slices, then cut into quarters or sixths. Parboil all of the sliced bamboo shoots and drain.*4 Finely chop one of the bottom pieces, to add when making the meatballs.

  3. 3

    Thoroughly mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs.

  4. 4

    Bring the simmering liquid ingredients to a boil in a pot, then reduce to medium heat. Form meatballs using two spoons, and drop into the boiling liquid. Use all the ground meat mixture. Skim the surface occasionally to remove fat. Gather the meatballs together in one place in the pot. Add the bamboo shoots and continue to simmer together for 7 minutes over medium heat.

  5. 5

    Finally add the wakame to the pot and heat briefly.

  6. 6

    Place the meatballs, bamboo shoots and wakame in a serving bowl. Pour some simmering liquid over the ingredients and garnish with the kinome.

  1. *1The white powdery substance inside the bamboo shoots is oxalic acid and is edible.
  2. *2Use the slightly harder bottom slices of the bamboo shoot for this, to lend a crisp texture to the meatballs.
  3. *3If dried wakame is not pre-cut, cut into 2 cm / 0.7 in. lengths after rehydrating.
  4. *4Parboiling packaged or canned pre-boiled bamboo shoots removes smell and prepares them to soak in the flavor of simmering liquid more readily.

Recipe by Kikkoman Corporation

Vol. 33

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