Learn how to make Thai-style bamboo shoot salad (Soop Naw Mai) with its spicy, savory, umami, tangy, nutty and refreshing taste. It’s easy and addicting!
SUP NO MAI / SUP NOR MAI
I love Thai food for its amazing taste profile from sweet, sour, spicy, umami all in one dish. It really keeps your taste buds busy at best! Take this bamboo shoot salad as an example. It’s very simple to make but I can tell you this sucker is addicting! Soop naw mai is made with fresh bamboo shoots tossed in spicy and sour dressing and toasted rice powder (Khao Khua). The khao khua really ties and binds this salad together and it adds an amazing smoky and nutty aroma to the salad. Thai green papaya salad (Som Tum)is more popular compared to soop naw mai. Not very many people who are not familiar with Thai food would know bamboo shoot salad. Soop naw mai is much more pungent and stronger in taste, which I really like!
WHY YOU WILL LIKE THIS RECIPE
EASY AND SIMPLE
My goal is to be as authentic as possible while keeping things simple and using ingredients that are accessible by many. Traditional soop naw mai includes things like yanang leaves, sawtooth coriander, pla raa juice, etc, which I know can only be strictly found in Asian grocery store. So I did not include those difficult-to-find items.
TASTES AMAZING AND REFRESHING
Despite being easy and much simpler than the traditional version, I can assure you this salad still taste amazing and addicting. I love the addition of purple onions (you can use shallots too) to the salad. It adds that extra sweetness and helps to cut through that strong aroma of soop naw mai.
WHAT IS BAMBOO SHOOTS
The shoots or the sprouts are the edible part of the bamboo plant. You can see the sprouts usually sprouting out from the ground. Bamboo shoots must be cooked before consumption as they have natural toxins that will get destroyed after being cooked. So, consuming cooked bamboo shoots are safe (don’t panic!). You just don’t want to eat the raw ones!
Bamboo shoots are being used widely in Asian cuisine. They are cooked in soup, stir-fried, boiled, as filler in spring rolls, in many Thai curries, etc. They come in many forms and shapes too. If you ever visit an Asian grocery store, you will see huge containers in the refrigerator section filled with bamboo shoots swimming in the water, in various shapes and sizes. Some are huge, some are in fine strips. These are fresh bamboo shoots. You will also find bamboo shoots in canned, also in various sizes and shapes.
The thing about the bamboo shoot is, if you are not used to it, it has quite a pungent smell and can be quite a turn off for certain people. But luckily, there are things you can do to tone down that pungent smell. More details below.
WHAT TYPE OF BAMBOO SHOOTS TO USE FOR SOOP NAW MAI
FRESH RAW BAMBOO SHOOTS
The hardcore will say it is best to use fresh bamboo shoots to make soop naw mai. Fresh in this case means that the bamboo shoots are raw and haven’t been boiled or processed and you need to do all the boiling and removing outer layers at home. Fresh raw bamboo shoots are hard to come by where I am though. So I usually have to use the pre-boiled bamboo shoots.
PRE-BOILED BAMBOO SHOOTS
I used the pre-boiled bamboo shoots from Asian store. They are not canned but sold in large containers in different shapes: strips, rectangles, tubes, etc. If you get the pre-boiled one, you only need to do a short boiling at home to get rid of the pungent smell. You can also use the canned version. Discard the soaking liquid and proceed to boiling like mentioned before.
HOW TO PREPARE AND COOK BAMBOO SHOOTS
FRESH RAW BAMBOO SHOOTS
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the bamboo shoots for about 45-60 minutes with 1 Tbsp of sugar. This will help to reduce the pungent smell and the bitterness of the shoots. Trim away the outer layer by layer and then slice the shoots into strips
PRE-BOILED BAMBOO SHOOTS
bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the bamboo shoots for about 2 minutes with 1 Tbsp of sugar. This will help to reduce the pungent smell. Discard the boiling water and then cut into desired shapes and sizes (if not already pre-cut)
HOW TO MAKE TOASTED RICE POWDER (KHAO KHUA)
Khao khua is a must (at least to me) in soop naw mai. It really elevates the salad to the next level. It adds that smoky nutty flavor and it ties everything together. I’ll feel like something is missing without it. Making khao khua is extremely easy. You only need one ingredient: white glutinous rice or also known as sticky rice or sweet rice. You can also substitute glutinous rice with regular jasmine rice or other type of long or short grain rice.
Here’s how to make khao khua:
1. Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Put the sticky rice on the dry pan and stir fry
2. Continue to stir fry until the rice turn golden brown and you can smell the amazing toasty nutty aroma, about 15 minutes
3. Let the toasted rice cool down and then transfer to a food processor/blender or use a mortar or pestle to grind
4. Grind into a coarse powder
5. Store them in an air-tight jar and use within a week for the best strongest aroma
HOW TO EASILY MAKE SOOP NAW MAI AT HOME
Now that you know how to prepare fresh bamboo shoots and made the khao khua, it’s time to put everything together. Here’s how:
1. Start with the boiled bamboo shoots cut into strips or whichever shapes you prefer
2. Add purple onion slices
3. Add chopped scallions
4. Add fresh mint leaves and chili powder
5. Add the dressing
6. Add toasted rice powder
7. Give it a toss, have a taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Chill it if you like or serve at room temperature
WHAT TO SERVE WITH SOOP NAW MAI
Soop naw mai is usually eaten with Thai sticky rice. Though honestly I can eat this thing on its own and sometimes I like to add roasted peanuts (for extra protein) and call it a meal 🙂
HOW TO STORE LEFTOVER
Leftover can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I won’t go longer than that though. I won’t recommend freezing this either.
For baking/ kueh making: I highly encourage to weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.GRAMS TO CUPS CONVERSION (UNSIFTED)
- 300 gr boiled bamboo shoots
- 1 stalk green onion - , thinly sliced at an angle
- 1 medium purple onion - , peeled and sliced thinly
- 1 handful of fresh mint
- 1 handful or fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 Tbsp toasted sticky rice powder
- Combine all ingredients for the dressing and set aside
Prepare the bamboo shoots:
- If you use fresh unprepared bamboo shoots, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the bamboo shoots for about 45-60 minutes with 1 Tbsp of sugar. This will help to reduce the pungent smell and the bitterness of the shoots
- Trim away the outer layer by layer and then slice the shoots into strips
- If you use preboiled bamboo shoots, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the bamboo shoots for about 2 minutes with 1 Tbsp of sugar. This will help to reduce the pungent smell. Discard the boiling water and then cut into desired shapes and sizes (if not already pre-cut)
Prepare the toasted rice powder (khao khua):
- Preheat a small to medium skillet on high heat without any oil. Once hot, put in one handful of sticky rice and use a wooden spoon to move it around and let it toast until golden brown, about 15 minutes. You can even smell the nuttiness. Set aside to let it cool down before grinding into a coarse powder
- Put the toasted rice into a food processor/ blender and process into a coarse powder and let it cool and store in an air-tight container. You can do this a night before if you prefer
Assembling the salad (Recommended to do so right before serving):
- Add sliced purple onions, green onion, chili powder, dressing. and finish with toasted rice, mint and coriander leaves. Tossed to mix everything. Have a taste and adjust by adding more fish sauce and/or sugar if necessary
- I like my soop naw mai served cold. If you like it cold, chill it in the refrigerator before serving
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