Parboiling is the preparatory boiling of ingredients, and in Japanese cooking it is used to produce a clean flavor by removing any unsavory smells of ingredients and extracting aku, the components that produce undesirable aromas and tastes. Parboiling also makes the texture of ingredients more permeable so flavors are better absorbed during cooking. Foods that are typically parboiled include daikon, sato-imo taro, konnyaku konjac and takenoko bamboo shoot; parboiling times differ by ingredient. Japanese parboiling will be introduced in this and the following issue of Food Forum. Here we explain how to parboil fresh bamboo shoots to remove aku.
1. Rinse bamboo shoots in water. Remove 2-3 outer layers and cut off the hard root. Cut off the tip diagonally, at about one-third the length of the shoot.
2. Make a 1-1.5-cm / 0.6-in. deep slit in skin from top to middle of the shoot.
3. Place bamboo shoots in a pot with just enough water to cover them, plus rice bran* and 1 dried red chili pepper.
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and place a drop lid over the shoots. Cook for 40-60 minutes, depending on size of the shoots.
5. Remove from heat when root is soft enough to be easily pierced with a skewer.
6. Set the pot aside to allow shoots and water to cool together. Peel skin, rinse and pat dry. Remove hard edges of the root area with a knife.