Gobo

Gobo, or burdock root, was a commonplace meal item growing. Whenever my mom went to the Japanese market, gobo was one of the things she brought home. We always ate it cold with sushi, rice, and pickles. It was a simple side dish, that I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I moved to the UK and couldn’t find it.

Only lately has gobo finally entered into more western mainstream food culture. It was something that I usually only found prepared int Japanese markets. Now it’s commonplace at Asian markets and even organic western grocery shops.

For those not familiar with gobo, it is a very long fibrous root. It’s quite crunchy and has a taste like parsnips. It doesn’t have a strong flavor. Now it’s building a name as a super health food. However, it will always be that childhood side dish that came with nearly every Japanese meal at home.

Also, gobo is extremely easy to make. It just takes some washing and braising time to soften the root. Because the root doesn’t have much flavor, a lot of the flavor will be coming from the sauce. The sauce has a lot of vinegar and soy sauce, which makes the gobo a great accompaniment to something more plain rice or even bread.

For the adventurous chef.

You can try making this by switching out the gobo for parsnips or other sturdy root vegetables like carrots.

You can also try making a different sauce. Instead of rice vinegar and mirin, try using black vinegar. You could add some chili for a spicier version. Why not make a Thai inspired version and similar the gobo in a peanut sauce. Delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 1in by 2in piece of kombu
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 stalks of gobo
  • 2 tbsp of sake
  • 2 tbsp of mirin
  • 3 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • ½ tsp of sesame seed oil
  • Sesame seeds for topping (optional)
  • 1 green onion chopped for topping (optional)

Method:

  1. You will need ¾ cup of dashi. You can make the dashi by boiling the kombu in 1 cup of water. The boiling process will reduce the liquid amount. You will want to boil the kombu for about 5 minutes. 
  2. Remove the kombu from the dashi and set aside to cool. Then slice into thin strips. 
  3. Peel the gobo. Then chop it at a diagonal to make oval slices. Next, stack them to cut into matchstick pieces. Place the pieces in some water and a drop of vinegar to reduce the gobo from coloring. 
  4. In some water, wash the gobo a couple of times. This will help reduce starchiness. 
  5. In a cup, mix the soy sauce, dashi, mirin, sugar, and sake together before adding to the pan with the gobo. 
  6. In a pan, put in a bit of oil for cooking and fry the gobo for about 5 minutes. 
  7. Let the gobo simmer with the lid on for about 35 minutes. This is to help soften the root. 
  8. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated, turn off the heat, and mix in some sesame seed oil and optionally some sesame seeds. Then serve topped with green onions if you like. 
  9. You can serve it hot or eat it cold. I recommend having it as a side with rice or on bread. You can also have it cold. Either way, it is a delicious and small side that packs a lot of flavor! 

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