Side Dishes 7: Bamboo Shoot Sauce

Steam ten jin of bamboo shoots for a day and a night. Pierce the segments of the shoots and spread them on a board. Put another board on top of them and press to squeeze out the juice in the same manner as making tofu. Add one liang of toasted salt to the juice to make bamboo shoot sauce. One can make dried bamboo shoots from the pressed shoots by sun-drying them. The monks of Tiantai make this to give as gifts.


1The literal translation for sunyou 笋油 is “bamboo shoot oil,” much in the same way that soy sauce is known as “sauce oil” (jiang you 醬油) or “bean oil” (douyou 豆油).


Side Dishes 6: Ginseng Bamboo Shoots

Shape thin bamboo shoots into the form of ginseng, adding a bit of honey water during their preparation. People from Yangzhou value this item highly, which makes them rather expensive.


Adding a bit of honey would change the flavour profile of the product, regardless of whether the preparation involves fermentation. As for whether this was dried or fresh, it’s anyone’s guess though I side with the former.

Side Dishes 5: Xuancheng Dried Bamboo Shoots

The bamboo shoots from Xuancheng1 are dark in colour and plump. They are largely similar to tianmu bamboo shoots with some subtle differences and are extremely good.


1Xuancheng is a city in south east in Anhui Province.

Side Dishes 4: Vegetarian Ham

In Chuzhou,1 dried bamboo shoots are known as “vegetarian ham” and are sold in slices. Their outsides, however, are much too tough. One might as well buy some mao bamboo shoots2 and bake them yourself for better results.


1A city in Zhejiang Province
2Maosun 毛筍 (mao bamboo shoots) literally translates as “coarse” or “hairy” bamboo (Phyllostachys edulis).

Side Dishes 3: Jade Orchid Slices

Bake slices of winter bamboo shoots and marinade with a small amount of honey. The household of Sun Chunyang from Suzhou has salty and sweet forms of this dish, with the salty one being better.

以冬笋烘片,微加蜜焉1。 蘇州孫春陽家有鹽、甜二種,以鹽者為佳。

1The way yan 焉 (lit. therefore) is used here is not meaningful. Yuan Mei possibly meant yan 腌, “to marinate.”

Side Dishes 2: Tianmu Bamboo Shoots

Tianmu bamboo shoots are sold wholesale in Suzhou. The ones in the basket close to the lid are the best, but go two inches lower in the basket and one finds shoots with old roots and hard segments. The prices are very high, so buy only the shoots close to the basket lid; if one does this enough times, done in the manner of “gathering a fox’s soft fur”, one will eventually get enough of the good shoots.


1The expression ji hu cheng ye 集狐成腋, or “gathering foxes to get armpits,” may be a play on ji ye cheng qiu 集腋成裘, or “gather armpits to get a fur coat.” The phrase comes from the method of using the soft fur under the front legs next a fox’s chest to make a fur coat, which, of course, would require numerous foxes to complete. In this context, enough good bamboo shoots need to be bought at various vendors to make the dish.

Side Dishes 1: Dried Bamboo Shoots

Dried bamboo shoots are produced in many regions, but those baked and dried at home are the best. Choose fresh bamboo shoots and boil them with salt until done, then put them on a basket and bake them dry. One needs to watch them around the clock, since allowing them to bake over a weak flame at any moment, will cause the preparation to fail. If one uses light soy sauce during preparation, then the colour will be a bit dark. This can be prepared using spring and winter bamboo shoots.

笋脯出處最多,以家園所烘為第一。取鮮笋加鹽煮熟,上籃烘之。須晝夜環看,稍火不旺則溲1矣。 用清醬者,色微黑。春笋、冬笋皆可為之。

1The use of the character sou 溲 is interesting, either meaning that the resulting shoots would smell rank and ruinous or that they would be soaked in liquid. The likely meaning here is that the drying shoots would simmer and cook as the flame weakens, thus producing bad or bad tasting dried shoots.