Miso Kinpira Gobo

Kinpira Miso Gobo with sesame seeds

For those not familiar with gobo (or burdock), it’s one of those wonder-veggies that has loads of fiber, iron and calcium. When lightly sauteed it’s got a pleasantly fibrous crunchy texture without being stringy or tough. When cooked for longer periods of time it will get tender while retaining it’s structure. Flavor wise, gobo is earthy, minerally, and just tastes “healthy”, but not in an overpowering medicinal kind of way.

Gobo (burdock root)If you don’t have a Japanese market near you, you may have a hard time finding it, but it’s the taproot of a common “weed” that grows all over the world. Here in NY, you needn’t look further than a patch of dirt disturbed by humans and you’ll find it growing all over the place.

“Kinpira” is type of Japanese dish that involves sauteing then simmering root veggies cut into thin strips. Kinpira Gobo is a very common side dish served with rice that’s typically seasoned with mirin, soy sauce and sugar. For my version I used miso and ground sesame seeds to compliment the earthiness of the gobo. It’s not a traditional preparation, but the flavors are very Japanese.

This isn’t really intended to be served as a main dish, but rather as “okazu” or something that goes along with rice and your main dish. A typical Japanese dinner might include a small grilled fish, a few types of okazu, a bowl of rice and bowl of miso soup.

1 gobo (burdock root about 2-3 feet long)
1 Tbs oil
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbs mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
1 Tbs white miso
3 Tbs water
3 Tbs ground toasted sesame seeds*

To prepare the burdock you’ll need to scrub it thoroughly with a rough sponge or a food brush. If you don’t have either you could run the blade of a knife along the root at a 90 degree angle to scrape the brown skin off. You could use a vegetable peeler but these roots are relatively thin so if you use a peeler there won’t be much root left to eat.

Gobo (burdock root) cut and soaking in waterCut burdock will start turning brown on contact with air, so it’s best to work in small batches and put the cut burdock in a bowl of water. Cut off a 2″ length of burdock using a sharp knife and slice in to 1/16″ slices lengthwise. Then cut the slices in the other direction lengthwise to form thin matchsticks. Soak the matchsticks in water until you’re ready to use them.

Heat 1 Tbs of oil in a pot until hot. Drain the gobo and add to the pot (be careful as the hot oil will spatter). Stir fry for about a minute until the gobo is well coated with oil and starting to cook. Add the sugar and mirin and stir. Add the miso and water stiring until the miso is dissolved. Cover and turn down the heat and simmer for a few more minutes. I like my gobo on the crunchy side so I let it cook for another 2-3 minutes covered, but if you want it softer, cook it for 5-10 minutes.

When it’s cooked, add the ground toasted sesame seeds, stir, then plate. You can garnish with some whole toasted sesame seeds and chili flakes.

* To toast sesame seeds, just add sesame seeds to a pan and heat the pan using a swirling motion to keep the seeds moving at all times. It will turn a nice golden color and will smell like sesame when it’s done. To grind, you can use a spice grinder, a pepper mill, a food processor, or if you like to kick it old skool, use a mortar and pestle.

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    i love having kinpira for a sidedish.it’s so simple, doesn’t require much ingredients and tastes great. mum makes some wicked ones but i doubt she’s made a burdock one yet. maybe i shd pick some up on the way home and plop it onto the island top as a very obvious hint..lol. love mums.

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    i love having kinpira for a sidedish.it’s so simple, doesn’t require much ingredients and tastes great. mum makes some wicked ones but i doubt she’s made a burdock one yet. maybe i shd pick some up on the way home and plop it onto the island top as a very obvious hint..lol. love mums.

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    I can honestly say I’ve never heard of it but I’m always learning something new over here!

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    I can honestly say I’ve never heard of it but I’m always learning something new over here!

  • http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com/ [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    I’ve seen gobo in the markets but never knew what to do with them. Thank you for sharing this. I wonder: does gobo taste like a little bit like ginseng? I somehow have this impression that it has that ginseng taste, but I don’t know where I picked it up. I might have had something named gobo on the menu.

  • http://www.eatingclubvancouver.com [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    I’ve seen gobo in the markets but never knew what to do with them. Thank you for sharing this. I wonder: does gobo taste like a little bit like ginseng? I somehow have this impression that it has that ginseng taste, but I don’t know where I picked it up. I might have had something named gobo on the menu.

  • Marc

    Diva, I’m curious what your mum makes kinpira with. Honestly I didn’t know it was madw with anything other than burdock until I did some research for this post.

    Noble Pig, that’s one of the best things about food blogs:-)

    js, Gobo doesn’t really taste much like ginseng as far as I can remember (I’ve only had it a few times). It doesn’t have a super strong flavor of it’s own. Just very earthy and slightly metallic (but not in a bad way).

  • Marc

    Diva, I’m curious what your mum makes kinpira with. Honestly I didn’t know it was madw with anything other than burdock until I did some research for this post.

    Noble Pig, that’s one of the best things about food blogs:-)

    js, Gobo doesn’t really taste much like ginseng as far as I can remember (I’ve only had it a few times). It doesn’t have a super strong flavor of it’s own. Just very earthy and slightly metallic (but not in a bad way).

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com/ Heather

    Burdock is a fairly common weed, and I’ve been meaning to give the wild stuff a try. Same with salsify (which has the coolest Latin name: Tragopogon dubius). There’s a type of kimchi with picked burdock that always tastes just like medicine to me, but the gobo I’ve had tends to stay sweet.

  • http://voodoolily.blogspot.com Heather

    Burdock is a fairly common weed, and I’ve been meaning to give the wild stuff a try. Same with salsify (which has the coolest Latin name: Tragopogon dubius). There’s a type of kimchi with picked burdock that always tastes just like medicine to me, but the gobo I’ve had tends to stay sweet.

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com/ syrie

    Hi Marc, I tried burdock for the first time in NY. It had a very interesting flavour. I’m not sure if I can say I loved it but I did like it.

  • http://allthingsnice.typepad.com syrie

    Hi Marc, I tried burdock for the first time in NY. It had a very interesting flavour. I’m not sure if I can say I loved it but I did like it.

  • Herbal-Babe

    Dear Marc
    I lived in Japan for 14 years returned in 2005 to CA. I miss some of the food I ate in the “Kansai.” When I saw your buta kimchi recipe, I got Japan-sick. I remember eating a buta kimchi donburi that was fantastic as there were several Korean restaurants I used to go to. I remember the meal had a coleslaw and ‘gohan’ bottom and the Kimchi beef or pork on top. Also I would like to make chuumaki, a pork/chickenn in rice, wrapped in a leaf and steamed. I used to get it a the train station in Osaka. Could you help me with these recipes. I’m so glad I saw your website!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Herbal, I’m pretty sure what you’re referring to is ちまき(chimaki), it’s the Japanese version of a Chinese dish called Zongzi. Personally I’m not a huge fan of the ones made in Japan, but I LOVE the authentic chinese ones (stuffed with big chunks of Lap Cheong and salted egg yolk in the middle) and am working on a recipe for one:-)

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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