Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Burdock Kinpira (Kinpira Gobo)...

Yup, I love Japanese food to no end, from their myriad of comfort foods such as ramen and one-bowl rice wonders to elaborate sushi and exquisite multi-course traditional kaiseki feasts. One dish that is a stand-out for me doesn't hold any bells and whistles-- simple fried burdock and carrots. As a starter or accompaniment to any Asian meal, this simmered dish stimulates the appetite, imparting a sweet and salty flavour with a delicate crunch with every bite. Burdock root is a underground tuber of the burdock plant and is popularly used in Asian cuisines as a vegetable and medicinal herb, especially Japanese known as gobo. Woody, firm roots with flesh crispy white and a slight ginseng-taste, burdock carries numerous compounds that have anti-oxidants, disease-preventing, and health promoting properties. Used in many folk remedies as one of the best blood purifiers, in the treatment of skin problems such as eczema and as an appetite stimulant that is also a good remedy for gas and indigestion.

Most burdock roots measure at least 2-1/2 feet long.

Burdock Kinpira (Kinpira Gobo)

1 long stick burdock (found in refrigerated produce section of Asian supermarkets)
1 medium carrot
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1-1/2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. Japanese or light soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sake
1 Tbsp. mirin

Scrape the skin off the burdock stick, rinse in cold water, cut into thin 1-1/2-inch matchstick strips and keep in cold water to prevent oxidizing and browning. Drain well before using. TIP: Burdock skin has nutrients and adds a good aroma to the dish-- don't remove it completely. Peel the carrots, and cut them the same size as the burdock. 

If you want to get practice on your slicing skills, this is a dish to do it.

Place the oil in a skillet or pot, and fry the the burdock gently. Add the carrots, and fry briefly. Add the sugar, soy sauce, sake and mirin, and fry until there is just a little liquid to coat the vegetables. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds before serving.

Pretty and unassuming, until you take the first bite-- and another... OISHI!!

Kinpara gobo served alongside a Yokoshu (Japanese-Western) meal of Hambagu and Creamy Mushroom Sauce.

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