Saturday, May 14, 2011

Roots and Shoots--A Recipe For Gobo Salad

Gobo (Burdock Root...Arctium lappa) and Asparagus

A recipe today for one of my favorite vegetables--Gobo, Burdock root in English.

Kinpira Gobo (I'll post that recipe the next time I make it:-)) is the most common way to eat that looong brown root, and it's also my kids' favorite.  But I was making Gobo and Ham Salad today, so I'll just put this up first.

"So what's the asparagus in there for?"  It's in there because the first time I made this recipe, I had already made up the dressing for it and tasted it.  Oooh!  Yum!  And when I went to Daiei to get the gobo, there was the asparagus right there... so I decided to throw some of that in, too, since I like it and thought it would taste good with the dressing.  Also, my friend Diana just got four pounds of asparagus for *free* (yes, that's a note of jealousy you detect there;-)).  I figure she could use a couple of extra recipes to use up all that asparagus...

Greater, or Edible, Burdock (A. lappa)
Back to Gobo-- what is it, exactly?  Well, it's Burdock Root in English, and frankly I went for years knowing it only by it's Japanese name (which is conveniently shorter anyway).   I loved the taste of it from the first because it reminded me of the taste of artichoke (which is impossible to get here).  Now I read on Wiki:

"The taste resembles that of artichoke, to which the burdock is related."

Figurez-vous...  The photo to the left is the plant itself, which I've never noticed before (but will keep my eyes peeled for now that I know what to look for).  That's not the bit you eat, though-- you eat the tap root, which can be a meter long.  Sticks right up out of any shopping bag you care to put it in.

In any case, rinse it once you've got it home, then scrape off the brown with the edge of your big knife.  Cut into pointer-finger length pieces (making sure that your own finger is not mixed in), then julienne.

Go to the store and pay a dollar for five stalks of asparagus.  And get some thin, sliced ham, too (any kind you like).  Cut the asparagus stalks into about four pieces and steam (I put it in the microwave for 2 minutes).  Cut the ham into strips.

Saa....tto yudete!  (Parboil)

Parboil the julienned Gobo (say, oh, a minute or a minute and a half) and drain.  Set aside.

Now comes my favorite bit-- the dressing!  *So* easy, and tastes good with practically everything (including your finger dunked in there).

Ingredients:  Mayo, soy sauce, and white sesame seeds.  That's it.  I happen to be able to buy sesame already ground up, which is a time-saver, but it's not hard to buy white sesame seeds and grind them up yourself (with a mortar and pestle, which makes you feel like a chemist, or in a food mill).

1 1/2 Tbsp mayo (any kind you like)
2tsp ground white sesame
1tsp soy sauce
Put all that into a small bowl and mix it up.  Lick finger.  Done.   Well, almost--now you have to put it on your vegetables...

The original recipe called only for Gobo and ham--but I love asparagus, too, so I threw in some of that.  Either way--suit yourself:-))

Dump the dressing on top and toss until everything is coated.  Feel free to make extra dressing to put in the fridge for dippy vegetables (carrots, broccoli, kyuri, peppers, anything you like).

Dozo!  Ippai o-meshiagatte kudasaimase! (Please eat lots!:-))


  1. I had *no* idea you could eat burdock! Seriously, *no* idea!

    Where I grew up burdocks (though not the edible kind, I reckon) were epidemic. They grew *everywhere*. The thing about their leaves, when they first shoot out of the ground, look a little bit like rhubarb! A little bit, a wee bit. It so happens, that I, age 7, and my sister, age 5, found some of these leaves, and we figured they were rhubarb! And we ate them. And OH MY GOD did they taste vile! I still cringe at the very thought of burdock these days, because that flavour was just out there.
    But now, if you claim gobo tastes like artichoke, and that your children love it, well, maybe, just maybe, I may have to reconsider ;D

    But that gobo and ham salad looks delicious! Now, I don't think my local supermarket carries gobo, but that dressing may very well find its way onto my dinner table within long...

  2. That looks so delicious! I don't know if I can find Burdock root here. I might have to take a trip to Amstelveen where all the Japanese grocery stores are. Or...I could just make that dressing and dip my artichokes in it. We just had artichokes this week, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to be on one of those kicks for the coming weeks.
    Oh, and we finished the last of the asparagus last night. :( Time to get more? Probably.

  3. Josephine-- you ate the leaves?? Eeek! I hope you can find some--maybe an Asian market near you carries it. It's the root you eat:-) And it really does resemble the taste of artichoke--plus lots of healthy fiber. I like to add it to meals because it really fills you up (and I can get away with less meat). But in the meantime, by all means try the dressing--it's great for dipping! Carrots, broccoli, raw or steamed, anything you like!

  4. Diana-- if you have Japanese or Asain markets, I bet they carry it. It keeps pretty well, too, being a root and all. But the dip would totally taste good with artichokes!
    You already finished four pounds of asparagus?? It must have been heavenly good! Oh--and where on earth did you find an asparagus peeler? I'd never seen one--did not know you had to peel it!

  5. vvv--thanks! It's not hard to make, though:-))