The burdock root in our Good Food Easy CSA share was the first example of this vegetable that I had encountered. Luckily Elin England's treasure trove of seasonal recipes, Eating Close to Home: A Guide to Local Seasonal Sustenance in the Pacific Northwest, provided a suggestion: the Japanese dish of kinpira gobo. Although the hey day for burdock root in European cuisine was the Middle Ages, it is still widely consumed in Japan, where "gobo" is often prepared in a style called "kinpira" which refers to stir frying followed by simmering. Carrots can be included or substituted. The main work of the dish is the chopping, after which the julienned vegetables cook up quickly, with the simmered liquids producing a delicious glaze. Burdock has a distinctive flavor that contrasts pleasantly with the sweet and salty glaze and was a big hit at our dinner table. Now I'll be scouring our farmers markets for burdock roots to make this again.
adapted from Elin England's Eating Close to Home3 medium burdock roots
1 large carrot
2 Tbsp canola oil
3 Tbsp sake
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sesame seeds
1. Scrub the burdock root with a brush and trim the ends. You can also use the edge of a knife to scrape off a bit of the skin, but don't remove too much, because this part of the root contains many of the nutrients. Cut the burdock into 2 inch julienned matchsticks, submerging the pieces into a bowl of cold water as you work, to prevent discoloration. Scrub, trim, and cut the carrot into similar julienned matchsticks.
2. Mix together the sake, soy sauce, and sugar. Heat a pan or wok over medium heat and add the oil. When it is hot, add the drained burdock. Stir fry for about a minute. Add the carrots and continue to stir fry for another couple of minutes, until the vegetables start to soften. Add the sake mixture and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced. Remove from heat, drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds and red pepper flakes if you like. Serve at room temperature. Keeps about a week when refrigerated in a sealed container.