I often lamented I was unable to find organic burdock… Until I discovered them in a box at, yes dear reader, Fairway during a lunch forage.
I leapt for joy. My heart beating quickly, I picked out six pieces – each about six inches long, and about an inch in diameter.
The woman who checked out my groceries inspected the burdock, and asked what it was, and how was I going to prepare it.
Kinpira Gobo came to mind.
I rinsed the burdock root well, and trimmed the ends. I then took the back of my knife, and scraped the thin skin off of the root. The dusty, brown, skin peels off easily, exposing a delicate, fragrant, white flesh. I had a bowlful of cold water handy, and plunged the peeled root into the water to prevent them from browning (due to oxidation, similar to peeled apples turning brown).
Once peeled, I cut them into 1 1/2 inch long slabs – which I then, julienned into thin matchsticks. Again, I put the cut pieces into cold water.
I also peeled four medium sized carrots, and cut them into similar sized matchsticks.
I heated up my trusty cast iron pan over medium high heat, added a tablespoon of sesame oil and a teaspoon of canola oil – and as they heated up, the most delicious, rich, warm aroma rose from the pan. I quickly drained the burdock pieces, shook the extra water off, and added them to the pan. The carrots followed as well.
A noisy chorus of sizzling vegetables, mixing with the intoxicating scent of sesame oil, woody-herbal burdock, and caramelizing carrots quickly filled my kitchen.
The girls looked up from their homework – their noses wiggling like bunnies.
I tossed the burdock and carrot mixture with tongs, and added 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and mirin continuing to mix everything together, well.
After the burdock pieces start to wilt, and the carrots soften, I added a generous handful of ground white sesame seeds, and continued to toss well.
Once all was blended well, I removed the pan from the heat, stepped back, and inhaled the delicious fragrance.
It brought me back to my childhood, and mom’s homecoming.
The girls looked up, and each had a taste test. They chewed thoughtfully, nodded, and said, “Yum!”
One of the best things about kinpira gobo is that it tastes delicious warmed up, as well as at room temperature – perfect for a bento item!