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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

bamboo shoot from Lee's One Fortune Farm

Local bamboo shoots might not be an item you would expect to find on farmers market tables, but they’re available now, either fresh or pickled, from Lee’s One Fortune Farm, at ASAP Farmers Market (both Thursday and Saturday), Black Mountain Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, and River Arts District Farmers Market.

Fresh, these spring vegetables look a little like giant asparagus and can be green or purple. The tough outer leaves need to be removed before cooking, which the Lees will do for you at market. But if you’re not planning to cook it right away, you may want to wait and clean your shoot at home, as the flesh will discolor once it is peeled. Peel the shoot slicing down the sides with a sharp chef’s knife to reveal the tender, pale yellow interior. Cut off the firm top and bottom. 

To eat, boil bamboo shoots for 20 minutes to remove bitterness, then slice it up to add to curries, salads, soups, stir-frys, or whatever other dish you’d like to experiment with. It tastes a little like artichoke heart with more crunch. Once cooked, bamboo shoots will only last a day or so in your refrigerator, but you can pickle or freeze them to have them available for future dishes. (The Lees also have pickled bamboo shoots available by the jar as well, if you want to save yourself the trouble of preparing it.) 

If pandemic life still has you feeling enthusiastic about tackling time-consuming home cooking projects, farmers market ramen might be a good vehicle for your bamboo shoots. Traditionally, ramen is served with dried and fermented bamboo shoots (menma), but go ahead and try it with fresh shoots. Gather other ramen toppings like bok choy, spring onions or leeks, daikon radish, cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, eggs, and pork loin or shoulder from the market. For the all-important ramen broth, start with a rich bone broth base by asking meat vendors about beef or pork bones, short ribs, or chicken wings. Hickory Nut Gap (North Asheville Tailgate Market) also offers beef or chicken bone broth by the quart. Combine this with a dashi, soy sauce, mirin, miso, ginger, or other seasonings.

At farmers markets right now you’ll also find an ever-growing assortment of lettuces and salad greens, dark greens like kale, swiss chard, and collards, plus carrots, turnips, snap peas, strawberries, and much more. Markets also have cheese, bread, honey, beverages, ferments, prepared foods, and plant starts.

For a full list of markets open throughout the region, visit asapconnections.org. Find contact information and more details about the region’s farms and farmers markets in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.

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