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Monday, September 27, 2010

Kinpira Gobo - Japanese Burdock



From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I stumbled on burdock quite by accident. While looking for celeriac in the produce section of my market, I found a stash of dirt encrusted roots that were about 18 inches long. I was intrigued enough to do some research, and learned that what had aroused my curiosity was actually the edible taproot of a plant belonging to the thistle family. While I had never seen it before, the root, called burdock, is popular throughout Asia, where it is still eaten and also used for medicinal purposes. Armed with that basic information, I went ahead and did an extensive search for ways in which to cook it. Strangely, there were few to be found and I found myself dealing with multiple occurrences of the same recipe. I really wanted to try this, but I wanted to get it right first time at bat. The roots were $9 a pound and that didn't leave much room for experimentation. A larger concern was how few of the roots the store actually had in stock. I went back and bought a pound which effectively delpleated their supply. Once home, I decided to use the recipe supplied by a group of expats living in Japan. They have a wonderful site called Tokyo Work Life where, among other things, they maintain a collection of Japanese recipes which you can find here. Their recipe differed from the others in that they used a hot dried chili, rather than miso, to flavor the dish that is called kinpira gobo. Their version of gobo is also cooked in dark sesame oil, rather than being sprinkled with sesame seeds before serving. The first task was to clean and peel the roots. A good scrub with a vegetable brush took care of the encrusted dirt and I used the dull edge of a knife to peel the burdock. A peeler would have removed too much of the flesh. I did cheat a bit with the next step. The recipe called for cutting the roots into a very thin julienne. I used a julienne peeler to do this, so I ended up with lovely, but long, strips of burdock that would be difficult to eat with chopsticks. In a perfect world, the strips would have been cut to a uniform julienne about 2 inches long and 1/16 of an inch wide. I quickly learned that the strips need to go into cold water once they're cut to prevent them from turning black. Soaking in water helps to remove the minerals that cause oxidation to occur. I let mine sit for about 30 minutes in several changes of water. Burdock has a deep earthy flavor, like that of wild mushrooms, but it has a very fibrous texture that can be stringy if you don't cook it correctly or long enough. "Kinpira" describes a dish that is both sauteed and braised. The dual process produces a vegetable that is slightly fibrous and crunchy rather than tough. In Japan this is served as an accompaniment to a main course and rice. It is surprisingly pleasant. If you like to experiment and are in the market for something different, be fearless and give this a try. Here's the recipe.

Kinpira Gobo...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, inspired by Tokyo Work Life

Ingredients:
1 pound burdock root, peeled and julienned
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1-1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons mirin( rice wine)
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Peel and julienne burdock and carrot into 2-inch matchsticks. Soak in several changes of water for 30 minutes to remove excess minerals that would could cause oxidation. Drain well.
2) Heat pan or wok until hot. Add sesame oil, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and pepper flakes to pan. Add drained burdock and carrots to pan and saute/stir-fry for about 6 minutes stirring constantly. Add tamari, mirin and 3 tablespoons water to pan. Toss. Lower heat and cook, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes longer depending on how crunchy you like your vegetables. Serve warm with rice: Yield: 4 servings.

You might also like these recipes:
Kinpira Gobo - No Recipes
Cooking with Gobo - Edible Earthscapes
How to Make Kinpira Gobo - Eating Japan
Kinpira - Umami: What's for Dinner?
Kinpira Gobo - mmm-yoso!!!

This recipe is being linked to Regional Recipes - Japan, sponsored by Joanne of Eats Well with Others

50 comments:

Pushpa said...

So new to me...will look for it in the produce section..easy recipe and delicious.

Pushpa @ simplehomefood.com

Sanjeeta kk said...

Burdock is a new find for me, interesting recipe, Mary.

Lucie said...

I've never cooked burdock before, but have had it in a dish and really enjoyed the earthy taste you mention. Not an easy root to deal with--thanks for trying this for us all, Mary!

Ginny said...

Never HEARD of it. When I first saw the picture, it looked like bean sprouts and shredded carrots. You are very brave buying that when you didn't know how it would taste or how you would cook it, especially being rather expensive. What kind of grocery store did you find these in anyway?? I've never seen them, even in Whole Foods or the Foods Of All Nations. I can't imagine where you must shop!

Sushma Mallya said...

Very unique & different recipe,looks delicious mary,have a lovely week ahead,take care

Debinhawaii said...

I enjoy gobo but never have attempted cooking it. I'll have to do it sometime--yours looks really good.
;-)

Priya said...

Never know about this root, thanks for sharing, am learning many new ingredients and dishes from u..

Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) said...

this sound healthy!

Katerina said...

I have never heard of either the root or the dish. It looks very exotic and I must say I really like to experiment with new tastes.

From the Kitchen said...

I would have probably moved that burdock aside and left it. I'm glad that you didn't. We like all of the flavors involved (well, except the burdock which we'd probably like as well) and it's an interesting recipe. While I probably won't make it, I will certainly seek out burdock when I'm shopping.

Best,
Bonnie

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Sure I will never find Burdock here in France but this sounds a really interesting dish and I love oriental flavours. Diane

bellini valli said...

I have come in contact with the burdock plant but never knew you could use the roots Mary. See I do learn something new every day from blogging.

Lori said...

Mary- You know I love to experiment and I so need to seek this out. How interesting.

Allie and Pattie said...

Fascinating! I haven't seen this in any of our markets, but there is an Asian market up near Raleigh that may have it (and their prices tend to be SO much lower) I'll be on the lookout
xoxo Pattie

Alison said...

How very interesting! I’m sure I’ve walked by this root many times. You a have inspired me to try something new. I was at a friend’s place for dinner this weekend who told me how she gets a box of organic produce delivered to her house every week. It’s always something different, as it just depends what is in season. She said it forces her to try new dishes she otherwise wouldn’t if she went and pickled up her usual.

Alessandra said...

Love them! I remember eating this when I was living in Japan, so delicious!!! Thank you for bringing back lovely memories Mary ;-)

High Plains Drifters said...

it's just amazing what just about every grocery store carries these days. too many choices, not enough days in the week ... can't possibly be making money off of it. guess that's why they have to carry 107 varieties of Kellogg cereals.

Jenn said...

Burdock is definitely new to me. I don't even know if I've seen it any where before. The dish looks wonderful...now I want to go find some!!

PeggyR said...

Never heard of it! Sounds interesting.

Cathy said...

You are adventuresome, Mary. This is completely new to me and I enjoy learning about something I've never tried before.

Big Dude said...

Mary - You make some of the most interesting dishes.

Lynda said...

Very interesting Mary...I've never seen this root here in my small town. I always learn something new at your blog.
Have a wonderful day!

kitchen flavours said...

It's wonderful that you are trying out something new, this is an interesting dish. We usually use this for our soups mixed along with some other herbs, as we believe it contains some medicinal benefit like removes uric acid, treating diabetes and some other ailments! But I have never tried it the Japanese way before! Thanks for sharing.

Susi said...

I have never heard or seen this root before! I'm just amazed at your knowledge and truly enjoyed learning about this dish, thanks for sharing :o)

Adelina said...

The Japanese cuisine intrigues me quite a bit- and your recipe is certainly something I would love to try! The shot is great- you always get is so right!

StephenC said...

I can't help but wonder if one of the two large Asian markets I frequent would have these. Certainly my local Safeway will not. Never had it, but definitely would try it. Thanks for the insights.

tasteofbeirut said...

I am amazed that you went through all this trouble! I thought cleaning taro was bad enough, this is ten times worse!
I am now curious to see if it is available here; I like how the recipe shows restraint and sounds delicious and earthy.

Lyndsey said...

You sound like me, if I see something in the store that I am not familiar with. I find many roots here like boniato, and name, malaga. I don't know if I could do the $10 a pound though. Good for you, this sounds interesting!

Barbara said...

I don't think I've ever seen burdock in any markets around here, but I'll certainly look for it now.
What a thorough investigating job you did, Mary! It's why I love your blog. Even if I never make this recipe, I'll know what it is and can speak somewhat intelligently on the subject. Interesting burdock has an earthy mushroom flavor; I'd love that.
Thanks for all your hard work!

aipi said...

totally new..never heard of it before..am learning so many new things from you..thanks for sharing :)

US Masala

Cristie said...

Must confess here that I've not seen this root, or if I have not been as courious as you. I think you have a great quality there and I would love to be your neighbor, can't imagine how much I would learn from you. Next trip to the market I'm keeping my eyes open. Have a lovely week.

Rita said...

Wow Mary, you are so ambitious to try something you have nevery seen or heard. That is why I love to come here; gret surprises.
Rita

Together We Save said...

Sounds interesting!!

Joanne said...

I love finding new veggies and while I've heard of this before, I certainly wouldn't recognize it if I found it in a supermarket! This dish sounds delicious! Thanks so much for submitting it to Regional Recipes!

Foodessa said...

Mary...I eat celeriac all the time...however, burdock is new to me. Thanks for nudging me to experiment with a new food ;o)
Interesting dish.

Ciao for now,
Claudia

Faith said...

I get so excited when I see new foods like this! Very interesting, I'll have to keep an eye out for it. Thanks for sharing, Mary!

Jagruti જાગૃતિ said...

new to me...intresting recipe !

penny aka jeroxie said...

How interesting. I have not come across this before.

JG said...

Burdock is new to me. Interesting how it changes color so quickly. Thanks for sharing about this fascinating ingredient.

lostpastremembered said...

Oh Mary, I know they are good for you but after breaking a spade on one of those monsters that went down about 3'... well I just can't bring myself to eat it... but oh, your recipe does seem tempting!

Monet said...

Mary,
You never fail to amaze me. I would have been far too intimidated to try something like this...and yet you not only accomplished a great recipe, but gave me the courage to experiment a bit more too! Thank you so much for sharing with me. Burdock here I come!

Nisha said...

Very Interesting post .

scrambledhenfruit said...

I don't believe I've ever seen this in our local grocery. It looks intriguing! I've heard of burdock but never knew it was edible. Weren't the seeds the inspiration for velcro?

Jeannie said...

I have seen these but don't know if they are the same species...I believe the chinese use these roots to boil soup with pork bones or free range chicken, although I have never tried it myself. Yours definitely looks delicious!

Faith said...

I would totally try it :) Looks like something new and exciting to try!

Eliana said...

I have never heard of burdock before. It sounds so interesting and delicious.

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

I utterly adore finding new and interesting vegetables and you've definitely stumped/intrigued me here. Burdock...what a name. Sounds like a detective and I like it. If 'Burdock' marries well with the flavors you added here then I'm IN. I made plain old green beans with lovely sesame oil, rice vinegar and toasted sesame seeds tonight and was reminded how much I enjoy Asian flavors. Thanks for sharing Mary! You always teach us something new.

Design Wine and Dine said...

We love Japanese food - sushi the most! This post is why I adore your blog...you cover so much and inspire us to try new things AT HOME. Thanks Mary, as always!

Jess @ Bakericious said...

sound healthy and looks delicious.

Mike Benayoun said...

I discovered gobo last week at a local Japanese market and I had to use it. I just love discovering new ingredients. I found this kinpira recipe and others and I picked this recipe as the one to showcase Japan as we are cooking around the world with 2 friends right now: http://www.196flavors.com/2013/02/19/japan-gobo-kinpira/

I paired it with mackerel, white rice with furikake and... sake of course!

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