Seasonal Delicacy of April: Takenoko
The word “shun” that refers to a seasonal delicacy means ten days. Takenoko, or a bamboo shoot, grows into a bamboo tree in only ten days after a bud comes out. This is why the Chinese character “shun (旬)” is used as a part of the character “takenoko (筍)”.
April is the season when fresh, flavorful bamboo shoots appear on the market. A fresh bamboo shoot should be prepared by boiling as soon after harvest as possible to prevent an unpleasant astringent taste from being produced. Once boiled, bamboo shoots, if soaked in water, can be stored fresh in the refrigerator up to one week.
Enjoying seasonal delicacies offers an extremely rich experience unique to Japan, blessed with four seasons and an abundance of food from land and sea. These foods in season are both highly flavorful and nutritious. It is also said that mountain vegetables busting out in spring help improve metabolism and recovery from exhaustion.
Why don’t you try some wakatake-ni, or simmered bamboo shoots and seaweed, with your Japanese sake for a fine spring evening drink?
Reference: Karada ni Yasashii Shun no Shokuzai (Encyclopedia of Vegetables), Kodansha Ltd.