This mysterious delicacy looks like a hairy rhinoceros horn. Once the hilarity of running around the house with it on my forehead wore off, I started to research what it was. I worked out that it was a bamboo shoot, but none of the images I found on the internet looked the same as mine. So, I turned to my trusty coworkers and Sophie found out that it was called a horse’s foot bamboo shoot (马蹄笋 ma ti sun). I guess that comes from the hairy outside!
I found a good-looking recipe for a side dish and translated it with Sophie.
I started peeling this ‘horn’ and I peeled it. And peeled it. And peeled it. Until I started getting worried that I was doing the wrong thing and would end up with nothing at all!
So I changed tactics and went for the knife. This was much faster. I just kept going until all the hairy layers were gone.
And, to my surprise, the inside looked like this:
The point looked really cool! It had really delicate layers. From a botanical perspective, it was really interesting.
So here’s the recipe. It had no amounts, so I have adapted it to my liking.
1. Peel and slice the horse’s foot bamboo shoot (sounds much cooler in chinese).
2. Boil some water and blanche the shoots for a few minutes with a little salt. Remove and drain.
3. Mix together 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of rice vinegar, 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 tbsp of rice wine.
4. Arrange the strips on a plate and pour the sauce over.
5. Sprinkle the shoots with some chopped spring onion and gouqi berries.
6. Heat up some sesame oil and canola oil until the surface shimmers.
7. Pour the sizzling oil carefully over the shoots.
The result is a warm, crispy side dish. It has a crispy texture. It’s really fun to eat the “comb” pieces! And my favourite part was the pointy top! It’s quite soft and the layered parts break apart in your mouth. It was also great to have a recipe that includes gouqi berries. People are always telling me how good they are for you, but I only ever drink them in chrysanthemum tea. I think you could also add some sichuan peppercorns to the oil to give it some spice.