In the market this vegetable appears in rather forlorn heaps. Each shoot comprises a short stem bearing pairs of small, limp oval leaflets, curling tendrils, and an occasional white flower. (Alfalfa shoots, muk sook, are also sold in some Shanghai stores; these are of the same size, shape and color, but have leaves of three leaflets.)

Buy the smallest, most tender ones you can find. These may also be the most wilted ones around, but they will be the most tender. As warm weather approaches, the stems thicken and the shoots become tough: time to serve another vegetable.