When you make ramen, there are many toppings you can add to make your bowl of noodles interesting. A popular item, menma (simmered bamboo shoots), is available in many stores (according to my book), or you can make your own.
As for “bamboo shoots,” I’ve used those cat-food sized cans of them in impromtu (made-up) Chinese-style stir-fries along with “baby corn cobs” and “sliced waterchestnuts”; I have never thought they were tasty, but they did add a cache of the exotic to a quick sterotype-of-a-foreign-cuisine-throw-together meal.
When I first made a few ramen recipes from my cookbook last year, I found fresh bamboo shoots, and I made this topping for ramen with them. They were crunchy and fresh. The recipe in my book calls for dried bamboo shoots but last year I could not find them on grocery shelves. Now, I found them in the refrigerated section; they are not dried like noodles but are packaged in a semi-moist state in plastic. Who knew?
Maybe you can read the charming information on the back of the package the dried bamboo shoots came in.
Sweet Simmered Bamboo Shoots
1 package (6 ounces) dried bamboo shoots
1/2 cup chashu broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup mirin
In a large bowl of cold water, soak the bamboo shoots for 3 hours.
Drain the bamboo shoots, discarding the soaking water. In a medium pot, combine the bamboo shoots, chashu broth, water, and the mirin. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered with a drop lid, for 30 minutes.
Let the bamboo shoots cool in their cooking liquid. Menma keeps for a week in the fridge, or it can be frozen.
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