Kinpira Gobo – Burdock Root, Stir-Fried and Spicy

Kinpira Gobo - Spicy Stir-Fried Burdock Root

There are many things that look more exciting than the beige stick facade of burdock roots but few have the appealing crunchiness it is prized for. Resembling a lengthier anemic carrot, it takes well to braising, retaining its crispness where other root vegetables turn mushy, and stir-frying, where its appetizing aroma is drawn out. Both cooking techniques are used in this traditional Japanese dish, serving as a good introduction to gobo cookery.

Although Kinpira is usually associated with spicy root vegetables that are stir-fried and glazed with soy sauce, sake, and sugar, its origin has little to do with culinary techniques. Kinpira originates from the name of a mythical character in musicals from feudal Japan. The dash of heat from shichimi togarashi, a bright orange spice blend containing seven ingredients, represents the hero’s strength and fortitude.

Weekend Herb Blogging
Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once

recipe adapted from Elizabeth Andoh’s Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen

Stir-Fried Spicy Burdock Root
きんぴら牛蒡(Kinpira Gobo)

makes 4 servings as a side dish

Kinpira Gobo - Burdock Roots

1 medium burdock root (gobo), about half a pound
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce

shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice blend) or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
white sesame seeds, toasted, for garnishing (optional)

Notes:

  • Shichimi togarashi is a piquant Japanese spice blend that has many variations. Red peppers, sansho peppers, dried orange peel, hemp seeds, poppy seeds, dried seaweed bits, and sesame seeds are some of the most commonly used ingredients.
  • Substitute carrots, parsnips, or other crisp root vegetables for some of the burdock root.
  • Avoid using a peeler when preparing burdock root — the nutrients and flavor are concentrated in the outer layers.

Instructions:

Rinse the burdock root under cold running water. Using a stiff brush or the back of your knife, lightly scrape the burdock root, carefully removing any rootlets and trace amounts of dirt.

Julienning the burdock root is not fun if your knife skills are as pitiful as mine so use a cutting technique where the burdock root is sharpened like a pencil to produce thin slivers.

Kinpira Gobo - Burdock Root Shavings
Sasagaki cutting technique: like sharpening a pencil.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over high heat.  Stir-fry the burdock root until slightly softer, about 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and add the sake, sugar, and soy sauce. Continue simmering over medium heat until the liquid is almost completely reduced to a glaze.

Add the shichimi togarashi or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.

Kinpira Gobo - Spicy Stir-Fried Burdock Root

To Serve:

Serve hot or at room temperature. Sprinkle with additional shichimi togarashi and garnish with toasted white sesame seeds.

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46 Responses to “Kinpira Gobo – Burdock Root, Stir-Fried and Spicy”

  1. noobcook says:

    I always see these Burdock Roots at the local supermarket but I have no idea what to do with them… thanks for the idea. You make it look really delicious :)

  2. Rosa says:

    A very interesting way of preparing that root! I’ve never had Burdock Root, but it sure looks delicious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. van says:

    Oh, I am kinda addicted to this food :)
    If you want the gobo root white, soak them in water with a little bit of vinegar after julienne. This step’s for getting rid of muddy harshness, too.

  4. Dee says:

    Great way with burdock! I’ve only ever braised them so thank you very much. There’s something for you on my blog.

  5. Manggy says:

    I think you have guessed that gobo is near-impossible to find in these parts, but I am really curious to try it now! The dash of shichimi of course doesn’t hurt either ;) (Thanks for the Japanese lesson, by the way! :)

  6. Ning says:

    I have never seen a burdock root yet. Will have to learn more about it. Thanks for sharing!

  7. MyKitchenInHalfCups says:

    Jude I’ve heard about burdock for years but never seen it or a recipe it was the major ingredient. This looks like it would be very interesting and I’d love to try it.

  8. kat says:

    this was so interesting. when we got burdock in our CSA box I left it at the drop off for someone else because I was just stumped.

  9. Hannah says:

    I’ve actually never even come across burdock root… How curious!

  10. Adam says:

    Your food is always so interesting, Jude. I learned in school that Burdock has some great healing properties, but I can’t remember exactly what. Either way, it looks delicious, and super good for you :)

  11. _ts of [eatingclub] vancouver says:

    Oh, I really like that sharpening-a-pencil technique!

  12. Snackgrab: Asian persuasion | BayBigr says:

    [...] Gobo — spicy stir-fried burdock root via Apple Pie, Patis and Pate. SHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: “Snackgrab: Asian persuasion”, url: “http://www.baybigr.com/?p=832″ [...]

  13. ila says:

    Mmmm… I LOVE kinpira gobo! It’s so crunch-ay and so saucy :)
    I also like to shave it very thin with a veggie peeler, and then deep fry to make gobo chips!

  14. Life Chef says:

    This is fantastic. I’ve never had burdock root. Is it similar in texture to salsify? Or parsnips? Or bamboo?

    I am truly impressed by your international culinary vocabulary. This has become one of my favorite foodsites. Hands down!

  15. clumbsycookie says:

    Wow, this sounds and looks so interesting! Your posts are allways very informative!

    last blog post: A Giveaway, tshirts, muffins, cars and awards…

  16. Glad to know that picking up random stuff from random groceries can be informative to some :)

    Life Chef – The texture is a cross between carrots and celery. It’s a really nice crunch but not stringy like celery.

  17. snookydoodle says:

    I just discovered your blog through dee s blog and she s absolutely right . Your blog is really nice and interesting. You realy give detailed info and greeat photos. I m hooked from now on :-)

    last blog post: IC:Earth – Challenge 002 – Basil

  18. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    Haven’t cooked with gobo before but it’s available here, thank goodness. I’ve always had the impression that it tasted like ginseng — where I got that impression, I don’t know. Might be the proximity of the gobo with the ginseng in the produce aisle and my brain mashed them together as one.

    I think you’ve inspired me to pick up a gobo stick on my next grocery run. Thanks!

    last blog post: Foccacia

  19. grace says:

    well this is just fascinating. i had no idea burdock root was edible! i love the way you’ve prepared it, too. very appetizing indeed. :)

    last blog post: pea-brained

  20. Joelen says:

    What a beautifully prepared dish… and I love how you transformed burdock root into something that looks so elegant.

    last blog post: Scones Scones Scones & English Tea Party Roundup!

  21. Natashya says:

    I have never seen anything like this. Thanks for the introduction to this veg and the spice blend. I will have to keep an eye out for them.
    I really should expand my Asian food horizons.

    last blog post: Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

  22. daphne says:

    ooo. great summary and write up. I wouldnt hv a clue on what burdock is without that!

    last blog post: Peanut Butter Ham Cheese French Toast

  23. giz says:

    Hi Jude, there’s an award for you on our blog.

    last blog post: Baba’s Honey Cake and Awards

  24. Snooky – Thanks.. That was pretty nice of Dee. hope to see you back soon!

    JS – They usually are right next to each other in the “root” section. Only ginseng is 50 times more expensive.

    Grace, Joelen – Thanks! I like using burdock instead of carrots.

    Natashya, Daphne – Glad you found the post somewhat informative. Try it out!

    Giz – Thanks! Just checked it out and I’m flattered.

  25. Anna says:

    beautiful photography and a great dish.
    i always wondered how to cook burdock. but i’ve never seen it in the grocery stores in sydney.

  26. Nate says:

    Beautiful photos. I like the technique you used to slice the gobo.

    Was there any liquid left in the pan after you simmered it down, or was it all incorporated into the gobo?

    last blog post: Big List of "Things You Must Eat" Lists

  27. Kalyn says:

    Great post, and a new ingredient I’ve never seen or tasted! Love the photo of the long roots. I do wish I could come over and taste some!

    last blog post: Recipe Favorites: Italian Sausage and Zucchini Soup

  28. Wilma says:

    where can I buy fresh Burdock root in BC Canada?

  29. Hey Wilma. Can’t really say… Any Korean or Japanese grocers in the area?

  30. Weekend Herb Blogging #151 - Recap « Servicios de hosting says:

    [...] Chicago, Jude from Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté makes Kinpira Gobo – Stir-Fried Spicy Burdock Root It’s not an “anaemic carrot” – it’s Burdock and Jude features this [...]

  31. Roots and Thangs: Braised Burdock « The Vegan Korean says:

    [...] I often talk about how lazy I am in this blog.  This “recipe” I cadged from an imperfect reading of a Korean cookbook I had lying around.  Anyway, this is a typical side dish, aka “banchan”, that my family serves with dinner.  It’s also great as a salty snack with a drink. I’ve had this in Japanese homes as well, where it’s called kinpira gobo. [...]

  32. Grocery Ninja: Korean Roasted Seaweed, Kim : Easy Idiot - get better knowledge says:

    [...] The larger sheets (about 8 inches square), on the other hand, are indispensable for making kimbap—delicious Korean sushi stuffed with cooked ingredients like barbecued fish sausages, stir-fried beef, crab sticks, tuna, omelet ribbons, pickled radish, blanched spinach, and seasoned burdock root. [...]

  33. on the rocks» Blog Archive » Day 20 of 28: Burdock Root says:

    [...] recipe that I loosely follow is Kinpira Gobo. I usually add a bit more sugar and replace the sake with white wine if it’s not available. [...]

  34. Linda Mackos says:

    Can anyone tell me where I can buy fresh burdick root?

  35. shellhead says:

    Hi Jude, will definely be trying out your recipe for gobo, I have just lots of it growing inmy garden in France… can we eat the leaves and shootrs or flowers too? The leaves are so fleshy it seems a pity just to compost them! Keep up the good work.
    shellhead

  36. E says:

    What many people don’t know is that often you can find Burdock growing right in your very backyard (that’s where I harvest mine from). A problem, however, is that most people chemically treat their lawns in one way or another and it isn’t healthy to eat from a lawn that has been treated with chemicals or is right near a super busy road.

    You have to either get a field guide or someone who knows to identify them for you but once you do, you can’t miss them–the plant has huge leaves. You can harvest in the spring or fall/early winter but make sure that you harvest from first year plants (not second year!). The second years are really quite tough. First years have no flowers and they’re smaller in size.

  37. Paul says:

    Thanks I love Japanese food and searched on Burdock as we are over run with it every year and spend hours getting the burrs out of the horses tails… hopefully now can put it to good use!

  38. Burdock recipe | Jamieswrinkles says:

    [...] Kinpira Gobo – Burdock Root Recipe, Stir-Fried and Spicy | Apple …Sep 24, 2008 … Although Kinpira is usually associated with piquant root vegetables that are stir-fried and glazed with soy sauce, sake, and sugar, … [...]

  39. Hotmama says:

    Have some in my fridge right now. Will try this recipe for dinner. Thank you.

  40. Crab Dip says:

    Wow, amazing blog format! How long have you ever been blogging for? you make running a blog look easy. The overall look of your website is excellent, let alone the content material!

  41. Qinda Liu says:

    We sell burdock root. Please email: darllet@163.com. Best regards

  42. Mike Benayoun says:

    Found gobo root at a local Japanese market and I immediately fell in love with the unusual shape and length of this root!!! I had to try it. Thanks for the recipe. I didn’t put sesame seeds as half of the recipes I found did not put any. Didn’t make it spicy for the kids too! I paired it with mackerel and white rice with furikake… and of course sake ;-)

    http://www.196flavors.com/2013/02/19/japan-gobo-kinpira/

  43. Elisa Yu says:

    Hi where can I buy fresh Gobu or Burdock root ?

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  45. Jane Says: There's a Whole World of Root Vegetables Beyond Potatoes - Grow Your Own says:

    [...] as well as B vitamins and minerals. Try burdock in stir-fries or an Asian-inspired braise such as kinpira. Shopping and prep tips: Burdock should be firm, not limp, and ideally no thicker than a slender [...]

  46. Forkified | Jane Says: There's a Whole World of Root Vegetables Beyond Potatoes says:

    [...] as well as B vitamins and minerals. Try burdock in stir-fries or an Asian-inspired braise such as kinpira. Shopping and prep tips: Burdock should be firm, not limp, and ideally no thicker than a slender [...]

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