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It is the shoot of the bamboo plant. There are two bamboo species which are commonly used in the Asian Cuisines. The botanical names for these species are Phyllostachys edulis and Bambusa vulgaris. The Phyllostrachys edulis is also comes in two names. The “winter” bamboo shoots and the size is small unlike the other “hairy” bamboo shoots are larger. Also their textures are very different, the hairy shoots are tough and bitter taste unlike the winter shoots are very tender and sweeter. The Bambusa vulgaris species are Bambusa oldhamii and Bambusa odashimae. The Bambusa oldhamii produce shoots which are large with fragrant and tender flesh. It is usually harvested between late spring and early fall and available at this time and after will not be available even in cans. The Bambusa odashimae is quite similar to Bambusa oldhamii but the flesh is so crisp that it tastes very similar to Asian pears. It is usually consumed fresh.
It is very commonly used in Asian countries and a very popular ingredient in the Asian/Chinese Cuisines. It is usually used to accompany with stir-fries, soups and braising food.