Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cooking in Bamboo Tubes



I hope I can entice you to make this delectable dish. So straightforward in flavor, so prehistoric in cooking method. And dare I say rather stunning in presentation? In Cambodia and Thailand I think it's called kao lam. Versions exist throughout Southeast Asia, sometimes with beans or other ingredients. First you need a pole of freshly cut bamboo. Grow it yourself or find a friend who grows it. Saw it into sections about a foot and a half long. Saw below the nodes so one end is open and the other closed. Then soak some sticky rice in water for about an hour. Drain and add coconut milk. Add some unrefined sugar (salt too) and chopped bits of dried fermented sausage. I thought this was lap cheung when I pulled it from the cave, but the fennel said otherwise. No matter. Fill the tubes 3/4 way up and add coconut milk almost to the top. Then take a patch of banana leaf, which you can buy in a SE Asian grocery store and tie it to the top opened end. You can use a strip of the leaf or string works even better. Then make a good roaring fire and prop the tubes up against it. I think an iron bar running above the fire would work best. Not directly in the flame, but pretty close. They will char on the outside and maybe even catch on fire. Don't worry, just turn them around and continue cooking. After about 45 minutes remove and split them horizontally with a sturdy machete. Serve right in the tube. There's a lovely bambooish aroma and a little smoke. I made this for the first time at a party yesterday and I can't wait to go tell the lady at the Cambodian gorcery store how they came out. She was excited and perplexed that I was trying it, but I think her good luck wish hit the target.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm always interested in different techniques and ways to cook. Do you think you can use the bamboo again? Perhaps by wrapping in foil? Or just put the open tube on a grill? Lots to ponder! Thanks, Artoeat

Ken Albala said...

I think you can use it again, but you need to steam it rather than chuck ina fire. And it helps to line the bamboo with banana leaves and then pour in the rice. We did several version, Thy Tran and I, and these came out really nicely too. If steamed, you could definitely use again. And it did seem a shame to char these!

SarahBHood said...

Ah, Ken, the things you do get up to. This is a great one.

Nick Trachet said...

I saw it for sale on the market of Port Moresby, PNG.

Maybe this is a pre-Appert version of canning? Or maybe it was "adapted technology" from Western canning during the colonial period?

The "bambooed" shrimp in PNG certainly kept longer than other cooked shrimp

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It really brings out the flavor, but for some reason I never make it. I should - it's a perfect holiday treat.I can't wait to be back to cooking again!

louise