Ingredient Spotlight: Burdock Root

The first thing you'll notice about burdock root is that it really looks like a root. Long, woody, and often flecked with dirt, it seems to belong in the compost heap rather than on a plate. But if you love the deep, earthy flavor of beets and mushrooms, burdock root is a vegetable you should get to know.

In parts of Asia, especially Japan, burdock root is used in soups and stews, shredded and simmered to make a side dish called kimpira gobō, pickled and wrapped into sushi rolls, or fried into chips or tempura. We love its earthy aroma and taste, which fit right in with the warmer, richer cooking of autumn. Burdock root also has a unique texture, crisp and chewy, that we find quite satisfying.

Most of the root's flavor is found in the skin, so clean the burdock by rinsing it in the sink while scraping away any dirt with the back of a knife. Once cut, it will begin to discolor, but you can stop the browning by putting the cut pieces in a bowl of acidulated water. This also reduces some of the root's flavor, so we usually don't bother, but if you want a milder introduction to burdock root, give it a soak before cooking it.

Recipes to Try:
Kimpira (Stir-fried Carrot & Burdock Root) at Food 52
Pickled Burdock at Serious Eats
Burdock Root Tempura at Humble Bean
Miso-Glazed Burdock with Red Lettuces at Food & Wine

Do you ever cook with burdock root?

Related: Recipe: Hijiki with Carrots

(Image: Flickr member FotoosVanRobin licensed under Creative Commons)