Help with bamboo shoots

Joined Oct 10, 2007
I believe this is the right forum,as I am concerned about process,not recipe.I bought some Thai bamboo shoots.they appear to be par boiled,I am certain they need more though.My concern is that they are quite putrid,I am 90% sure they are not rotten,as they are in a vacuum pack and show no discoloration or bad texture.I read sulfite something on the package,must be the culprit.I want to know if that smell is normal,as I have only bought precooked/canned shoots before.These appear to be ready to slice,I have seen shoots prepared from scratch and there is no outside hull or anything on them,just yellow strands of shoot.Please help me with any suggestions on further cooking/blanching times and technique.Or simply if you know if they can be frozen while I find out how to cook them,I can't leave them in the frige this way,my other foods are going to reek in a bit,my hands still do just from handling the package.The brand is First World Trading if that helps if anyone has heard of them.I searched the web for them and only found business solutions etc.Thanks for any help ahead of time.How can something that smells so bad taste so good.This is not like Stilton when I say this.Good night and thanks.
Joined Aug 4, 2000
As a first guess, the shoots may have been soaked or stored in "fish sauce" which can smell quite putrid to the western nose.  Many "soy sauces" made in southeast Asia that I've purchased seem to have a "putrid" or rotted scent and it will take some time for my own nose to become accustomed to that distinct aroma!

Once I viewed an the Chinese Imperial Banquet in a tv documentayr, the first of its kind given in over 75 years somewhere in China.  Among the delicacies served were fish intestines aged for 50-100 years.  Waddya' think of that?

Fish sauce has been used since Caesar's time.
Joined Oct 10, 2007
Hey there.Thanks for the reply.Well there is not quite the scent of fish sauce,and there is no coloration whatsoever.I suppose the smell comes from sulfite(s) that are listed on the bag.Do you know of any refernce as to how to blanch/cook them so that the smell goes away,of course if it has to be done separately from the cooking I would,likewise if it is done at the time of cooking,that is fine.I just want to know how to go about using these fresh shoots.The canned stuff always smells fresh not like this.Thanks for the info.I know a bit about cuisines and for example,the East Asian propensity for funky stuff,kinda like truffles and blue cheese in the west.I wonder what Caesar would've thought about fish sauce lol.
Joined Aug 18, 2007
Hi Jason,
In general, I find that anything thats been vaccuum packed has a certain blahh!-ness about for a while.
We used to buy vaccuum packed meat that looked and smelt a bit naff when opened..I phoned the butcher and he said it was ok and to open it an hour before it was needed. Idid and it was fine. Cant remember the reason.
Maybe you're right about sulphites.I'm sure someone here will come upwith the solution
Joined Jan 9, 2008
Probably the sulfites. I remember with dried mango slices that they used to use sulfites for preservation by being antifungal and anti bacterial.  There was a definite funk to the smell comming out the bag.  But now they don't use them (suppossedly) and I can tell because the ones that are truly sulfite free smell like mangoes upon opening.

 In theory, sulfites and sulfides react with acids in a way that is favorable for your purpose.  So I might suggest what my mother does for fish and chicken or anything that could be a touch on the funky...not bad, it might even be imparted from the packaging or whatever.

 Anyways, she and most people from the west indies will wash their fish and chicken with lemon/lime or any high citrus fruit along with some water in a bowl.  Rinse and your good to go.
Joined Oct 10, 2007
Well thanks everyone for your help.In the meantime I did freeze it,won't know if it affects the texture too much or not.It took care of the smell problem,plus it gives me time to find out how long I should rinse and blanch it.It was just a matter of keeping my other foods "natural",I am not squeamish about things in the least,I took a culinary course and used to work at LAX as a cook,you can imagine all the stuff I saw and smelled.I love eating food from different continents on the same day.So off I go and when I cook some of the damn stuff I will let you guys know how it came out.Again,thanks for everything to all who responded.
Joined Feb 13, 2008
"When in doubt, throw it out."

Considering there are any number of sources for "fresh" bamboo in and around Anaheim, I'm surprised you're keeping it.  It's not like there's any vast difficulty replacing it -- and with something better at that.

Unless you know in advance that something's supposed to smell bad when you open it -- just assume it's bad and toss it.  I've certainly never smelled anything like that which you describe from the bins of "fresh" bamboo in Asian markets.

It's not worth risking your health or your family's for two bucks worth of bamboo.  Or, is it?

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Joined Feb 26, 2007
Buy tinned.  They work well.

 Toss that lot that you have.  Don't risk it.

Our local grocery store has this horrid aroma of ammonia all the time - I refuse to buy anything from there for safety's sake.  The only 2 thinga IMO that smells bad but cooks up well are fish sauce and shrimp paste. 

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