What The Heck Is A… Burdock Root?

Description: Known as gobo in Japan and niúbàng in China, the gangly, tan-skinned root of the biennial burdock plant can grow to be two to three feet long and is similar in shape to a carrot or parsnip. 

Cuisine Connection:  In Japanese cooking, burdock is an all-purpose root vegetable that’s added to stews, stir-fried, or pickled. A popular Japanese dish is kinpira gobo, or julienned burdock root and carrot in a soy sauce, sugar, and mirin and/or sake glaze. 

Flavor Profile: Burdock has a crunchy texture and a chew that’s tougher than that of most root vegetables. The flavor is sweet and earthy, similar to lotus root. 

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Prep: Burdock has a thick layer of grit on the surface, so it’s best to peel away the skin after the root has been given an initial wash. Burdock also discolors easily, so keep a bowl of ice water with a splash of vinegar ready so that all prepped portions can be kept refreshed in the bowl.