What is Gobo (burdock root)?
Gobo is a root vegetable and also known as a medicinal herb. It is a very common in Japanese cuisine.
Gobo, before peeling
The first time I tried Gobo was in Hong Kong some years ago when I had omakase in a Japanese restaurant, they served each of us a petit dish of burdock as a free appetizer. Because of the minute quantity, it makes it feeling more precious. Burdock roots comes in different sizes, some are thicker than the other. I have tried ones that are thin enough to prepare as they are without cutting into thin slices. In the Japanese supermarket, my mom will buy the very thick ones which she will prepare a simple clear vegetable soup with sweet corn, carrots and dried figs. which was said to have a diuretic effect and can help detoxing our blood. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can find these thick ones in Switzerland. The above gobo you see in the picture is bought from Japan Centre, London. They are not cheap at all, almost £6 for just 2 sticks but I really want to try to cook them myself and enjoy at home. They can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks if you do not feel like to cook them yet. One problem with me is that from time to time, I would look for those long lost tastes : ) therefore I did not mind to give an effort to search for the food I miss/ like/ crave.
To prepare them, I have adapted the recipe from About.com, my favorite place for authentic Japanese recipes. I did not add carrots to mine as described in the original recipe, although it seems to be common to have carrots added to it but the ones I had in the restaurants do not have carrots in them. In this way I can concentrate chewing the crunchiness and unique flavor of the gobo. The cooking itself is very simple and easy, it was the cutting process which took the most time but absolutely worth it.
- 2 pieces gobo (burdock root)
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp mirin
- 1/2 tbsp sake
- cooking oil
- sesame oil
- ground black & white sesame seeds
- seven spices (optional)
Gobo after peeling
- Peel the gobo, cut into 5-6cm sectors, and julienne the gobo into long very thin strips.
- Place the gobo strips in a large bowl of water and let them soak for about 15 mins.
- Discard the water and drain them on a sieve for a few minutes or pat dry with kitchen towel.
- In a small bowl, mix all seasonings and stir to help melting the sugar for as much as possible.
- Heat a little cooking oil in a frying pan, and stir fry the gobo strips for a few minutes.
- Add all seasonings in the pan and stir-fry well.
- Turn off the heat, drizzle a little sesame oil to enhance the fragrance.
- Divide the gobo strips into small serving plates, leave the excess liquid in the pan.
- Garnish by adding some sesame seeds (use sesame seeds mill if you have one) & add a little seven spices if you like a little spiceness.
- You can serve this as a side dish to any Japanese main dishes or noodles.
- I like it so much that I could just eat a little like a salad.
- If there is seasoning left in the pan, kept for use in other cooking, too good to discard them!