This is a long overdue post. Over the holidays I had some free time to kill, and since one of my New Years resolutions is to cook more with unusual ingredients I decided a trip to May Wah was in order. They had some fresh bamboo shoots and the abalone was on sale so why not?
For those of you who never cooked with fresh bamboo shoots before, the fresh and the stuff that comes in a can are totally different beasts. The fresh stuff is surprisingly sweet but takes a bit of prep work. First you have to peel it down to the tender/non-hairy shoot. Then you have to boil it for a good 20 minutes or so and finally you let it cool in the liquid and then it’s ready. The whole boiling and cooling process is key, otherwise the bamboo shoots end up being very bitter and astringent.
Peeled and unpeeled bamboo shoots
I’ve never cooked with abalone before and there seems to be two schools of how to cook it to make it tender. One advocates quick cooking while a lot of chinese recipes demands long cooking times to soften the abalone. So I decided to try both!
Abalone and it’s liquid
First I steamed a piece of the abalone in it’s broth for an hour. This made the abalone unbelievably tender, almost melting. I ended up making a braised abalone with bamboo shoots in a soy flavored sauce in the clay pot. Yummy!
Then for the quick cooked abalone, I sliced up the rest of the unsteamed abalone and made a stir fry of bamboo shoots, country ham and abalone. This abalone was definitely less tender than the steamed but not so much as to be tough.