Saturday, January 1, 2011
BAMBOO IS A MEMBER of the grass family and it has more than a thousand species of its genera. Unlike common grass, bamboo exhibits a woody appearance. One common species grows to about 30 to 40 feet high and has a pole divided into several segments which taper off at the topmost.
This kind of bamboo is very common in Asia, Africa, South America and in the islands of the Pacific. The bamboo has many uses from firewood to food ingredient and for this article it will be used as an alternative for a conventional cooking pot. Yes food can be cooked from bamboo.
Native peoples in Southeast Asia have been known to have used the bamboo to cook rice and to boil soup. Each segment is enclosed by its woody composition and it is hollow. From this chamber will be placed the ingredients for cooking. But before we proceed to that, it is very important that you should know how to source your bamboo for your “pot”.
Avoid the lowest portion of a bamboo pole for it is thick and it will take a long time to heat the ingredients inside. Do not choose the the topmost third of the pole for it is too thin and the grains would split if it is kept under the fire for a long time. Select the middle. For an average pole you will have seven or eight segments to choose from. See Figure 1.
Most people cook only rice using bamboo. There are two ways to cook this: Horizontal or vertical. Unknown to almost everyone, milled corn can be cooked in bamboo. Unlike rice, milled corn is easy to cook and in much quicker time. Choose the #16 variety of milled corn. Cooking can be done only horizontally on an even fire.
Prepare first a bed of embers before you work on your bamboo pot. Heat from glowing embers cook evenly better than by naked flame and would not eat away the underside of the bamboo. Along the edge of the fire, place two equally-sized stones to anchor your bamboo over the fire. The flame should not touch the underside and it should be 4 to 6 inches above the ground.
Cut two segments but leaving the two still connected. One segment will be your cooking chamber while the other one will be your heat exchanger. The heat exchanger will act as heat absorbent and will receive the heat imposed by the fire on the cooking chamber to lessen it from splitting due to heat. The heat exchanger will also be your reserve cooking chamber, if in case.
Using a saw, cut two inches away from each end of the one joint. Now make a hole by batoning a knife running down the whole length of the joint from each cut ends and repeating again on the other side (see Figure 2).
Remove the piece of bamboo from the hole and this will be your lid (see Figure 3). Chop a skin of the lid and this will be your lid handle (see Figure 4).
Scrape away the loose grains and strands of your chamber hole with a knife as well as on the lid itself (see Figure 5). With a wooden spoon (or a round-edged piece of wood) scrape away the inside pulps of the chamber (see Figure 6) and wash away with water afterwards. If you're short on water, just blow it away.
You are now ready. Place the bamboo over the fire. Pour two-thirds water in the hole and replace the lid. Stoke the ember until water boils and some steam escape from the hole and remove the lid. Pour three-fourth kilo of milled corn and spread all over evenly with a spoon and replace lid.
Wait for five to six minutes and stir the corn. Repeat process until corn becomes sticky and firm and replace lid (see Figure 7). Wait for another five minutes and open lid. Test the texture of the corn if it is very firm, if not, take a sample taste. Replace lid and simmer by removing some ember. By this time, it should be ready for serving.
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