Of all the root vegetables used in macrobiotics, burdock is the creepiest. Dark brown and sinister, unlike any other root vegetable I’d ever had, it was totally intimidating. There were numerous times at the grocery store that I’d almost have it in the basket, but at the last minute it just seemed too weird and I’d freak out and toss it quickly back onto the produce shelf. Something about the colour made it seem dirty to me- a big deterrent for someone who once had the nickname “the health inspector”. Then one day I took a cooking class. “Eek!” I thought when it was served. I brought it to my mouth, closed my eyes, squished my nose up (I’m sure the teacher loved seeing that, lol) started to chew… and it was L.O.V.E.
Kind of like the enchanted frog that turns into a prince, this seemingly dodgy brown root is all kinds of deliciousness. Freshly cut it smells like when you’re standing in the middle of a forest and while cooking its scent is reminiscent of freshly turned dirt, almost, but dirt you really want to eat… The flavour is earthy and warm and completely addictive. Hubs gets super excited when he sees this on the menu, and if there are any leftovers I don’t doubt that he would get up in the middle of the night and tuck them away to take for his lunch. Not to mention the powerhouse qualities of this root. Farmers hate burdock for its invasiveness, as it will grow almost anywhere. It especially likes concrete and will even grow in the middle of a city. It is tenacious and therefore perfect to get us moving in the middle of the winter, when some project or work needs to get done. Eat some burdock and you will accomplish anything. Seriously- please don’t wait as long as I did to try this one. If you find burdock (also called gobo) in the store, cheer wildly, thank your luck, then plunder the entire section.
Colourful Carrot and Burdock Kinpira
2 cups carrot, chopped into fine matchsticks (I used a mix of orange, purple and yellow carrots for this dish, but orange carrots alone are just as tasty!)
2 cups burdock, chopped into fine matchsticks.
toasted sesame oil
toasted sesame seeds or gomashio
Heat a small amount of oil over medium-high heat.
Add the burdock and sauté for about 4 minutes.
Layer the carrot matchsticks over the burdock then add water to fill about halfway up the veg and bring to a boil.
Cover and reduce heat to medium low.
Simmer for about 10 minutes, then add a few drops of shoyu. Cover and simmer about 3 minutes longer.
Mix well, garnish with toasted sesame seeds and a few drops of ginger juice, then serve.