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Burdock Root: An All-Purpose Vegetable

Earthy, nutty, and crunchy, burdock root is used in a variety of soups, stews, stir-fries, rice bowls, and salads. Learn what we like the most about this extraordinary-flavorsome root vegetable.

What is Burdock root?

Originating from Asia and Europe, the burdock plant has been used for centuries due to its purported medicinal properties. The roots of young Burdock plants are commonly used in the culinary world especially in Japan, China, and Taiwan. Burdock roots are slender with blackish-brown skin, and a white interior. The sheer uniqueness of this extraordinary vegetable lies in its crunchy, yet meaty texture.

This all-purpose root has a history of being used as a bittering agent for beers in Europe, after which hops replaced burdock root in the beer industry. 

Flavor and uses

Burdock root has an earthy, nutty flavor which can be either pungent or mild, depending upon the region in which it grows. The flavor is best described as bittersweet and akin to artichokes. The earthy bitterness of the root can be lessened by soaking in salty water for a few minutes. 

Different cuisines have a unique way of utilizing this flavor-rich vegetable. In Russian cuisine, burdock root can be used as an alternative to potatoes. 

This root vegetable is considered an all-purpose food in Japanese cuisine as it’s used in pickles, rice bowls, sushi, stews, and stir-fries. The Japanese term for this root vegetable is gobō, which is very popular in Japanese street-food recipes. 

Image Credit: Flickr user leehaywood (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Kinpira gobō is the most popular Burdock recipe served alongside the main course in Japanese cuisine. The strands of Burdock roots are sauteed and simmered with soy sauce, sake, sugar, and seasoning. Another popular Burdock recipe is Butajiru, a typical Japanese miso-based soup. The main ingredients of this nutritious gobō soup are pork belly-slices, miso, burdock root, carrots, taro, and daikon.

Burdock root is also an integral ingredient in a very popular soft drink in the U.K, known as “dandelion and burdock”. This drink has a traditional significance as it dates back to the medieval period. Today, burdock tea is used around the world for its purported healing properties.

Today, many cuisines throughout the world utilize bittersweet burdock for a variety of soups, stews, salads, and beverages. 

Feature Image: Flickr user fitkitchen (CC BY 2.0)

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