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Oddity 15 Rice is cooked in a bamboo tube

A very popular street-food in Xishuangbanna is the Dai speciality zhutong fan – slightly sweet sticky rice (with peanuts) steamed and barbequed in a small bamboo tube. The bamboo bark is cut away and the inner wood can be peeled back in strips to reveal the succulent and tasty rice inside, held together by the bamboo tube’s inner membrane. It’s also known as xiang zhu fan, after xiang zhu, the special thin, wide-jointed, variety of bamboo used.

 

In the Dai language this is known as “rice cooking bamboo”. The secret of xiang zhu – the onion-skin of fragrant membrane lining the stem - is only revealed when finally eating the rice. After cooking, the tube is beaten to loosen the membrane, the bamboo bark is cut away and the inner wood can be peeled back in strips to reveal the succulent and tasty rice inside, held together by the bamboo tube’s inner skin. Xiang zhu bamboo matures over the winter months, so keep a look out for zhutong fan between the months of October and February.        

 

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