The first time I came in contact with raw sugarcane was in Mississippi… many moons ago. At first glance my brother and I thought it was bamboo. So, we ripped what I now know as old sugarcane, from the ground and proceeded to act out our dreams of being the kung-fu masters that we saw on TV every Saturday morning. We snatched them out of the ground and got into fighting stances, ready for battle. Just as soon we sounded our battle cries, I happened to notice a hoard of ants flowing out of both ends of the sugar cane that we both held. Immediately, panic and hysteria took over, and we both ran in different directions trying to get out of the path of the ant invasion. Two things fascinated me that day (and never left my mind); number 1: Sugar cane grew naturally- and my mother grew up eating it, and number 2: Ants are no joke-especially in Mississippi. I had lived my childhood without ever consciously coming in contact with raw sugarcane again . In fact it wasn’t until I had reached adulthood that I found sugarcane being sold whole in the Bronx. So, without hesitation, I pulled over and bought some. When I got it home, I rinsed it and sucked on it the way I had seen my mother do. The result was pure joy. It was the most fun I had ever had eating a stick. Somehow I got to be pretty sweet on sugarcane, kind of like the feeling you have when you fall in love for the first time. Complete with sideward glances, and the extra spring in your step. And I knew I had to share this feeling with everyone.
Sugar cane when juiced has the same nutritional potency of wheatgrass , the big difference lies in its higher sugar content. But all in all the sugar in raw cane is unrefined and has a low glycemic index. Besides that raw cane contains high levels of calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. The juice of the sugar cane is used to make all sorts of beverages, (alcoholic and non-alcoholic). And because of its seasonal nature, availability is limited. So whenever you cant find the raw cane, take advantage of its health benefits, and flavor by using canned or bottled cane juice found in your local Asian market. Try this tasty sugar cane skewered shrimp recipe from the Food Network, and discover the flavor and health benefits of sugarcane for yourself.
Chef Will Hall
Sugarcane-Skewered Shrimp with Chile-Cilantro Rub
1 bunch cilantro, chopped coarsely
1 habanero chile, chopped
4 shallots, chopped
2 lemons, zested
2 limes, zested and juiced to 1/4 cup (juice more limes if necessary)
1 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 vegetable oil
16 jumbo shrimp, cleaned, deveined
8 sugarcane skewers
1/4 bunch cilantro leaves, as garnish
Puree all marinade ingredients in a blender. Reserve 2 tablespoons of marinade.
Skewer two shrimp per sugarcane and place in marinade and refrigerate. After shrimp has marinated 2 to 3 hours, grill for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, making sure they are fully cooked.
Serve with a drizzle of the reserved marinade and cilantro, as garnish.
Bernstein, M. (2013). Sugarcane-skewered chrimp with chile-cilantro rub. Retrieved from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/michelle-bernstein/sugarcane-skewered-shrimp-with-chile-cilantro-rub-recipe/index.html
Harvesting sugarcane. (2010, 11 10). Retrieved from http://sipsnapsavor.net/2010/11/10/harvesting-sugarcane/
McCaffrey CDC , D. (2011, 10 03). Raw sugarcane juice nature’s perfect wonder food . Retrieved from http://www.processedfreeamerica.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=535:raw-sugar