Chili Bamboo Shoots are a staple condiment/garnish/snack I’ve been eating all my life––from a jar. Until recently, that is! I have to say, now that I’ve gone homemade, I’m never going back to the jarred stuff!
The Perfect Topping for Anything
If you’ve ever found yourself short on time, but looking for lots of flavor to go with a Chinese meal, chili bamboo shoots are one of the best things you could reach for. They’re spicy, with the tender crunch of young bamboo shoots and a pop of satisfying umami.
There are few things I love more than digging into a bowl of noodles or rice with a stir-fry, or even just a simple egg and sliced avocado, along with a big heaping serving of chili bamboo shoots on the side.
Homemade Is Better
If you’ve ever enjoyed jarred chili bamboo shoots, you’ve probably experienced one of the following:
- Scanning ingredient lists for chemical preservatives.
- Trying to decide which brand is the best—they all look the same, and are probably trying to copy one OG chili bamboo shoot company, but which one is the best? (Even I don’t know the answer to this question).
- Reaching into the fridge excitedly for your jar of bamboo shoots, only to find that they’ve gone moldy because you couldn’t get through your jar fast enough. (As a single gal, this is my biggest struggle.)
Enter homemade chili bamboo shoots, where you can get a far better flavor (personalized to your tastes!), and make as much or as little as you need without preservatives that you can’t pronounce.
The biggest game-changer of this recipe is the homemade chili oil. Avoid buying chili oil at the store, which is often heavier on color than flavor. It won’t come close when you put it neck and neck with freshly made chili oil, infused with aromatics and sizzled over deep red Sichuan pepper flakes.
Naturally, you’re going to get a far better bamboo shoot with a chili oil that you’ve already made for yourself. It’s a no-brainer!
What Bamboo Shoots Should I Use?
The best bamboo shoots for this recipe are the ones in brine that come in vacuum-sealed bags or canned bamboo shoots.
Bamboo shoots in brine are the best option for that classic jarred flavor, though they do come with some chemicals in the brine. I personally prefer this flavor, though some people don’t appreciate the vaguely medicinal edge that brining can bring.
Canned bamboo is packed in water, which is more pure, but they are very slightly tougher than bamboo shoots in brine. If I had to guess based on taste alone, they seem to be made from slightly more mature bamboo.
I don’t recommend trying to use frozen bamboo shoots, as they can be too water-logged for this application. Fresh bamboo shoots could work, but would likely require a blanching or brining process beforehand. I haven’t gone that deep with my at-home bamboo shoot experiments, but if anyone has insights, please share them in the comments!
Homemade Chili Bamboo Shoots: Recipe Instructions
Rinse the bamboo shoots under cold water. Drain well. To ensure they’re really dry, you can pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Transfer to a bowl and add the chili oil or chiu chow oil to taste. Our chili oil is a purer spicy flavor, whereas chiu chow oil has a garlicky flavor. We like to use primarily the oil, using a spoon to skim off the oil without getting too much of the chili flake. Feel free to go smooth or chunky!
Next, add ¼ teaspoon sesame oil, ⅛ teaspoon white pepper, and 1 pinch of salt.
You can adjust these amounts to taste, or according to how you eat your chili bamboo shoots (e.g., with rice porridge, along with stir-fries, or seasoned noodles, etc.).
Add little by little until it suits your preferences! These measurements reflect the minimum for a flavor that’s a notch more flavorful than what you get in the jar. If you want a more “pure” chili bamboo flavor, go with chili oil and salt only.
Stir to combine, and ideally, let the flavors meld for 10-20 minutes before serving.
If you have extra, transfer to a clean air-tight container and store in the refrigerator. They should be good for about 1 week. Always use clean chopsticks when dipping into them to prevent them from spoiling prematurely.
Homemade Chili Bamboo Shoots
- Rinse the bamboo shoots under cold water. Drain well. To ensure they’re really dry, you can pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel.
- Next, add ¼ teaspoon sesame oil, ⅛ teaspoon white pepper, and 1 pinch of salt. You can adjust these amounts to taste.
- Stir to combine, and ideally, let the flavors meld for 10-20 minutes before serving.