Fresh bamboo shoots vary from an inch to seven inches wide at their base. They consist of several fibrous layers tightly bound and overlapping one another to form a conical point. Their color is plantain yellow with brown markings throughout. The bamboo shoot's flavor is mild and sweet, similar to that of baby corn.
Bamboo shoots are used frequently in Asian cuisine. Commercially canned bamboo shoots are common, but freshly harvested bamboo has far superior flavor and texture.
Fresh bamboo shoots must be cooked before eating, as raw shoots are bitter and texturally hard to digest. The outer leaves are tough and will not be edible regardless of cooking, so they should be removed prior to cooking. It is recommended to boil or steam for 20 minutes prior to actually utilizing them further. Bamboo shoots can be stir-fried, grilled, roasted, marinated, pickled or pickled.
Fresh bamboo shoots are available throughout the year, with a peak season from late spring to early summer.