The Home of China’s Bamboo

Travel

The Home of China’s Bamboo

by Live in Guizhou


PUBLISHED Nov 11, 2021 • 4MIN READ

Today A’Gui will show you a local food material called the Chishui Winter Bamboo Shoot. Chishui is a northwestern city in the province, situated midstream of its namesake, the Chishui River. The city is known as the “Home of China’s Bamboo”. Bamboo shoots are a delicacy in Chinese cuisine and can be harvested in spring, summer, and winter. However, winter shoots are especially prized, because they have yet to emerge above ground. Especially in Chishui, this means shoots have a lower oxalic acid content, and sweeter and crispier than their spring and summer counterparts.

Winter bamboo shoot 

How do you forage the perfect winter bamboo shoot? Allow me to demonstrate. First, you must learn to observe the leaves of grown bamboo. Patches of dark green leaves with yellow pigments are likely signs that nutrients are going into a fresh underground shoot. Shoots often cause the ground to loosen and swell up. Cracks on the topsoil also indicate hidden shoots beneath. When harvesting the shoot, you must be extra careful to take its roots as well, this way, the shoot can remain fresh for a longer period.

The Sea of Bamboo

How large is the bamboo forest in Chishui? Big enough to form a national bamboo park called “Zhu Hai”, which literally means “The Sea of Bamboo”. The ancient natural bamboo forest covers hilly-terrain of roughly 133,000 hectares, enfolding sunny spots with year-round greenery–even in winter. Bamboo is known as one of the “four gentlemen plants” for its endurance and triumph over the seasons. Surrounded by the sea of bamboo, it is easy to see what inspired countless Chinese poets across the ages to write their praise.

The Zhuhai (Sea of Bamboo) National Forest Park 

The Zhuhai (Sea of Bamboo) National Forest Park located in Chishui is a great place to appreciate primal bamboo forests and hilly waterfall-rich landscape. Recommended sights in the park include the echo-dome rock formation, the ground-level cascades, the eight-deity tree, and the couple’s tree. The park is home to over 40 species of wild bamboo across 12 genera and two man-made cultivars. I strongly suggest that you visit the outlook viewpoint, and experience the bamboo forest for yourself.

Bamboo shoot chicken stew 

Bamboo shoot chicken stew is a once-a-year winter treat. A favorite dish for many Guizhouers, the stew must be made with winter bamboo shoots and freshly slaughtered chicken. Due to the quality of the ingredients, the only seasoning needed for the stew is a pinch of salt, no SMG required. The chicken takes one hour to stew before the natural aroma of the bamboo and the chicken mixes completely, and the bamboo taste fully infuses into the muscle. This fall-off-the-bone delight is a must-experience for anyone visiting Guizhou.

Panda’s diet 

For Chishui’s residents, bamboos are everywhere, including the local diet. Jokingly referred to as the “panda’s diet”, bamboo-related ecology features heavily on the local menu. Hundreds of bamboo-themed courses are available, using ingredients from bamboo shoots to bamboo mushrooms, from bamboo partridge to bamboo rats. Bamboo meals served on and with bamboo utensils are a surreal experience rarely experienced elsewhere.