Bamboo Charcoal Cooking
Bamboo charcoal as fuel or food
There seems nothing unusual about using bamboo charcoal as a fuel for cooking. It is a good idea because bamboo charcoal is made from a renewable resource, it is smokeless and it is odorless; and thus, ideal for barbecues. But what might strike many as unusual is using bamboo charcoal in the actual preparation of food. This is exactly what the Japanese do.
Bamboo charcoal has a high porosity that makes it very good for absorbing toxic and unwanted substances. It is rich in metals and minerals such as potassium, calcium, sodium and iron. It is also a 100% natural product.
Bamboo charcoal in rice
Bamboo charcoal in Japanese cuisine
The most common instance of using bamboo charcoal in Japanese cuisine is in the case of white rice. A couple of slices of bamboo charcoal are placed in the rice cooker with water and cleaned white rice. As the rice cooks the bamboo charcoal absorbs the chlorine and other unwanted chemicals in the water. The result is healthier and much better tasting rice.
The Japanese sometimes use bamboo charcoal for making tempura. Tempura is when vegetables and fish are covered in a light batter and then deep fat fried. By putting bamboo charcoal in the hot oil the tempura becomes crispier and the aroma of the food is improved. Moreover, the life of the oil is extended.
Japanese make great pickles. If bamboo charcoal is used in the preparation the resulting pickles are chewier and tastier.
A recent development in Japanese cooking is the use of bamboo powder in the broth of noodles dishes. It helps to improve the taste of the soup in the dish by purifying the water.
Bamboo charcoal in bread
More about bamboo charcoal
In all cases of bamboo charcoal used in cooking there is no taste of charcoal in the final dish because bamboo charcoal is tasteless and odorless. Rather bamboo charcoal helps to bring out the true flavor of the food. As mentioned before bamboo charcoal contains a number of useful minerals that are good for the health. It also contains bamboo vinegar that is a popular natural medicine in the East that is used for detoxifying the blood.
The possibilities for using bamboo charcoal in cooking are not limited to a few Japanese dishes. Bamboo charcoal can also be used for baking bread. There is no reason why it can’t be used for baking other dishes as well. If you cannot buy bamboo charcoal powder in your supermarket you can always buy sticks of bamboo charcoal and crush it into a powder at home.
Bamboo charcoal has other uses in the kitchen besides in the preparation of food. It can be put in the fridge to remove odors. It can also be used to filter tap water. Many people in Japan have bamboo charcoal attachments to their kitchen faucets to filter the water. Alternatively you can put pieces of bamboo charcoal in a jug of tap water and leave it for 4 or 5 hours. The result is water that tastes like mineral water.
Bamboo charcoal can also be placed in the kitchen or other places in the house to regulate humidity. It soaks up extra water from the air during the hot and sweaty summer months and it releases moisture into the air during the cold and dry months of winter.
Finally, bamboo charcoal is an ecologically friendly product. If it is used for deodorizing or controlling humidity it can be put in sunlight and its properties are restored. If the bamboo charcoal has been used for preparing food you can break it up and mix it in with the soil of a garden. It works as a natural fertilizer and pesticide. And of course it biodegrades. It really is no surprise that bamboo charcoal is referred to as the ‘black diamond’ in Asia.
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