Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wild Rice Shoots - Gâau-séun- 膠筍

One of the Chinese vegetables on my list that I wanted to try this year is wild rice shoot (also called water bamboo) or 膠筍 gâau-séun (glue/gum-shoot) in Cantonese or jiao1 bai2 茭白 in Mandarin.
Note: Wild rice shoot are different than bamboo shoots.

Fresh wild rice shoots

I tried wild rice shoots in restaurants but it is only recently, for the first time, that I selected wild rice shoots from a stall at the wet market to cook at home. It is not that I had never seen this plant before – on the contrary – but for no particular reason at all I had never purchased it. What a shame. I guess it is very simple to fall in the trap of buying the most common veggies, such as Chinese flowering cabbage - choi-sam (which I don’t particularly like) or Chinese white cabbage - baahk-choi.
Now that I know that wild rice shoots are very easy to cook and delicious I will no longer ignore them and they will be included in my menus.

The seller told me that I could either steam or stir-fry the young shoots with pork slices. However once at home I decided to sauté them without adding any meat. I wanted to make a very light dish so as to taste the true flavour of the veggie.


Stir-fried wild rice shoots

Stir-fried wild rice shoots

  • ~1 catty of wild rice shoots
  • 1 slice ginger, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • Ground white pepper
  • 2 Tbsp spring onion, chopped (garnish)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (grape seed)

  1. Prepare shoots. Remove outer layers (all the green part) leaving only the white flesh. Trim end. Wash, drain and cut in ½ cm lengths*.
  2. Heat oil in wok and add ginger, red and green chilli. Stir for 1 minute over high heat.
  3. Add veggie. Stir for a while, and add sauces mixed with water.
  4. Stir-fry for another 4-5 minutes (or until tender).
  5. Turn off heat. Add white pepper and chopped spring onion; mix well.

  6. Transfer veggie to a serving plate and serve very hot.

Wild rice shoots sprinkled with chopped spring onion
* I cut the stem in ½ cm lengths. In the dishes I tried before in restaurants the shoots were cut into large pieces and then in half – lengthwise – and finally sliced super thin.

I like the mild taste and the tender-crispy texture of the shoots. They are tender and blander than bamboo shoots. I have since stir-fried wild rice shoots with shredded pork. This was very tasty but I prefer the way I cooked them the first time (vegetarian style). I enjoy light dishes which get a flavour lift from chilli and ginger without overpowering the veggies.
Ah! For an even lighter dish I have yet to try to steam them!

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