Ginataang Tambo (Bamboo Shoot in Coconut Milk)

Tambo is the Ilonggo term for bamboo shoots while labong is the tagalog term. Sometimes the term tambo refers to the dish itself because tambo is the signature ingredient of this classic Ilonggo sud-an or viand. However, for a more detailed description, the dish is oftentimes called utan nga tambo in order to emphasize that what is wanted is tambo with vegetables rather than referring to other dishes such as Atchara nga Tambo or Tambo with Bagongon-telescope shells.

These fresh bamboo shoots come from the farms and mountains of Iloilo. Right after summer, at the end of May, new bamboo shoots sprout from the main bamboo plant especially when the rainy season starts to unfold. This is what rural folks refer to as tigtarambo or season for bamboo shoots. Thus, tambo can be bought cheapest during this season. Therefore, you could find it in public markets in Iloilo, for only ten pesos per kilo.

However, whenever tambo is already out of season-starting from the months of August and September-its price from ten pesos per kilo doubles.
Utan nga tambo can be cooked in different ways and with varying ingredients. I discovered through my interviews that the choice on whether what ingredients to be used depends on one’s preferences and social status. For instance, the simplest tambo recipe only has the following ingredients: tambo, coconut milk, okra or tugabang (saluyot leaves) and bagoong. Moreover, the regular tambo recipe includes shrimps and does not include bagoong. Finally, the ultimate tambo recipe would consist of tambo, coconut milk, crabs or  even alimango, okra and tugabang (saluyot leaves) or takway.

Serving is good for 4-6 people.


  • 2 cans of Tambo – labong in tagalog; Young bamboo shoots. It is abundant during rainy days. You can use the canned bamboo shoots if you cannot find fresh. 
  • 1 stalk of Tugabang – saluyot in filipino (and in other asian countries); Its english name is jute mallow or jute leaves
  • 1 lbs Okra 
  • 2 Yellow Corn. We Ilonggos would like to use the glutinous variety of corn.
  • 1 can of Coconut milk – set aside the kakang gata.
  • 1 lbs Fresh Shrimps or Crabs or Dried Fish or Visayan Shrimp Paste (Guinamos)


1) Boil your sliced bamboo shoots until its soft to chew. Discard the water. Squeeze out excess water.
Boil this again in 4-5 cups of water.

2.) Add your okra until soup is slimy

3. ) Add your second batch of coconut milk. At this stage I like to add some cloves of garlic. You can add your grated corn here if it’s fresh.

4.) You can now add your shrimps, or blue crabs or dried fish.

*Our Ilonggo secret ingredient: Add one spoon of Visayan Shrimp Paste to flavor (optional if available)

5) Add your tugabang(Jute Leaves)

6) Add your remaining kakang gata(coconut milk), simmer for another minute and serve.

Ginataang Tambo with blue crabs
Ginataang Tambo with shrimps