Even Euell Gibbons might have hesitated before tucking into a stick of burdock. In its raw state, the patchy root, a.k.a. gobo in Japan, seems better suited to a game of fetch than a toss in the sauté pan. Nevertheless, it has a deliciously earthy and subtly sweet flavor similar to an artichoke’s, not to mention numerous purported health benefits. Scrub one down and try it in this recipe for kinpira, a traditional Japanese dish, from the East Village izakaya Kasadela.

Photo: Carina Salvi. Illustrations by John Burgoyne.


1 medium burdock root, peeled (available at Union Square Greenmarket’s Paffenroth Gardens and Gorzynski Farm stands)
1 medium carrot, peeled
White-wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon white sesame seeds

(1) Cut the burdock and carrot into matchstick-size pieces. (2) Soak the julienned burdock in a bowl of water with a dash of vinegar for about ten minutes, and then drain and dry on paper towels. Put sesame oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat and (3) sauté the burdock and carrot for about five minutes. Add sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of water to pan. Reduce heat and cook until the liquid evaporates. Add the sesame seeds, mix, and serve.