Unless you have a Japanese mother, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ve ever had Kinpira Gobo. It’s the kind of Japanese home cooking that isn’t well known outside of Japan. In fact, I rarely see burdock root prepared in the states at all, and that’s a real shame. It is packed with health benefits, credited with everything from aiding digestion to preventing cancer.
Burdock root is a quintessential Japanese vegetable and features prominently in many traditional dishes. One of the reasons why is that it is incredibly versatile. It works well in soups and stews, braised dishes, fried in fritters, or blanched and eaten like a salad. Moreover, it plays nicely with other vegetables as wells as different kinds of meats. Burdock root has a very crunchy texture that softens the longer it cooks and an earthy, almost sweet and smoky flavor. Sounds intriguing, right? Well it’s also delicious and I think it’s time you got to try this very easy Japanese dish.
Kinpira Gobo takes only 5 simple ingredients, and cooks in about 10 minutes. But don’t be fooled, it’s intensely flavorful thanks to heavy hitters like togarashi and toasted sesame oil. It’s a perfect side to a variety of meats and fish, or combine it with a couple other veggie dishes and enjoy a meatless meal.
What is Burdock Root?
Burdock is a thin, long root vegetable grown throughout Asia. It is a cousin to the artichoke, but it’s really not that similar in flavor or texture. I cut it into pieces for easier storage, but when you purchase it in the Asian grocery stores, they will look like long skinny branches. Look for burdock that is plump and stiff, not shriveled or pliant.
When young and more tender, it can be eaten raw. Older roots though are generally cooked. Since it is a root vegetable, it can be pretty dirty; make sure to wash and scrub thoroughly. I use a clean scrub pad that’s only for vegetables, which I find more thorough than a vegetable brush.
I typically use a knife to pare off slices of the burdock root, sort of like whittling a piece of wood. The pieces need to be soaked in water immediately and kept there until you’re ready to cook them. This keeps the burdock from oxidizing and turning brown. Alternately you could julienne it. (Either way, you will need a very sharp knife. Have you subscribed yet? Not only will you never miss a recipe, but you will also receive my tutorial on proper knife sharpening.) If you have left over burdock root, try it in Sukiyaki Noodles.
Cooking Kinpira Gobo
Once the burdock root is prepped this dish comes together very quickly. First the burdock is stir fried with the togarashi, and then it is briefly braised in a mix of soy sauce, mirin, and water.
Finally to plate, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and/or extra togarashi. If you want to make an Asian inspired plant based feast, pair my Kinpira Gobo with this Roasted Cauliflower with Creamy Dipping Sauce, and Funky Spicy Green Beans. There will be so many exciting flavors and textures, no one will miss the meat.
When you try this recipe, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag us in your photos, @funkyasiankitchen. Show us the goods!
- burdock root, about 9 ounces
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons mirin
- 1 teaspoon Shichimi pepper mix
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds or a little more shichimi pepper (optional)
Prep the Burdock:
- Scrub the outside of the burdock root with a vegetable brush or a clean scrub pad.
- Put a bowl of water next to you and then cut the burdock root by holding it with one hand and then scraping the knife along the burdock, kind of how you would sharpen a pencil. Put the burdock immediately into the bowl of water as you cut it to keep the burdock from oxidizing.
- You can also julienne the burdock by first cutting it into 2 inch pieces. Then cut it into thin slices lengthwise. Stack the pieces and then cut through them so you have thin julienned pieces. Put the burdock root into the water so it doesn’t oxidize and continue cutting the rest of the burdock in the same way.
- Once all of the burdock is in the water, swish it around and drain the water. Refill the bowl with fresh water and set aside until ready to use. You will drain it right before cooking it.
- Heat a pan over medium high heat. Add the neutral oil and sesame oil and then the drained burdock root. Stir fry for a couple of minutes and then add the shichimi pepper. Cook for an additional minute and then add the soy sauce, mirin, and water.
- Cover partially, lower heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for 3-4 mins until the liquid has evaporated and the gobo looks shiny and slick. It should still be a little crunchy. Taste it and add a little salt if needed.
- Plate the burdock root and sprinkle with the sesame seeds or additional shichimi pepper. Serve immediately.