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Burdock or Gobo Root: Preparing, Cooking and Health Benefits

Burdock or gobe root is an edible root most often used in Japanese cuisine. This herbaceous plant is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer.

Burdock or gobo, as it is know in Japan is the edible root of a large herbaceous plant that is thought to have originated from the Caucas region of Europe. Although it is unfashionable in European kitchens and considered an invasive species in the US, burdock is very popular in Asia, where it is eaten as a vegetable and prized for its medicinal properties.

Burdock or Arctium lappa can often be seen growing wild along road sides in many of the worlds temperate regions. This plant is known for its small burrs that cling to clothing and animal fur. The prickly flowers were the inspiration for the invention of Velcro. The edible parts of burdock are the shoots, the leaves, and the long slender hairy roots that resemble salsify. Burdock is extremely healthy and nutritious; it has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity.

Preparing and Cooking: Burdock has white, fibrous flesh that is covered by brown thin skin. Because most of burdock’s flavor is near its skin, it is best to use a pot scrubber, instead of a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Like salsify, burdock’s white flesh begins to oxidize after peeling. To avoid this, submerge the burdock in water with some lemon or vinegar. Burdock sometimes has an acidic taste that can be removed by soaking the vegetable in salty water for at least ten minutes.

In Japan pickled gobo root is often found in sushi bars where it is used as a condiment. It is also cooked as a vegetable dish known as kinpiri gobo. The dich is prepared by slicing the burdock on a mandoline into very thin slivers. The burdock is then stir fried in canola oil. Sake, soy sauce and sugar are added to the sauté pan and the dish is cooked for about five minutes until the liquid has reduced, leaving the gobo glazed and flavorful. Pickled burdock, or gobo can also be found in jars and cans in Japanese markets. Gobo root is also added to soups and cooked in the same way as bok choy or spinach.

Buying and Storing: Fresh gobo is available in some Asian markets from November to May. To store gobo, wrap it in damp paper towel and place it in the vegetable draw of the refrigerator, where it will keep for about one week.

Nutrition: Burdock has many health benefits and is extremely nutritious. For this reason it is also available in herbal supplements. Burdock contains B complex vitamins, in particular vitamin B6, also vitamin’s C and A. This plant is a source of magnesium, prosperous, iron and calcium. One hundred grams of fresh cooked burdock root contains 88 calories, 21 grams of protein and 21 grams of carbohydrate.

Burdock has been used in the traditional herbal medicines of China and Europe since ancient times. It was used for the treatment of gout, rheumatism and arthritis. In particular burdock was used for the treatment of skin diseases such as eczema and acne by applying a poultice to the infected area. This could be explained by the presence of anti-bacterial and anti-fungal chemicals in burdock called polyacetylenes; discovered by researchers in Germany. Burdock also contains a class of phytoestrogens called lignans. Lignans, which are also found in asparagus, broccoli and flax, are thought to have anti-cancer properties and may even inhibit HIV-1 infections.

Other research has demonstrated that burdock is associated with hypoglycemia, toxic immunity and blood purification. According to research of Yu Xiao San 8805, a herbal medicine of which burdock is an ingredient, burdock was found to have hypoglycemic effects. Meaning that it could lower blood sugar but increase the secretion of insulin, which helps type 1 and type 2 diabetics to control the condition.

Burdock flower. Image credit. Primary image credit.

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Comments (4)

Very informative article. My father used to take great pains to get this out of our pasture areas as he said it would do some damage to the cattle. Did you uncover anything about that in your research?

That had a lot of good information in it. If i ever go to japan i will certunly buy some.

I never heard of these foods before

To Lorena, yes I think I read somewhere that the little prickly flowers can be dangerous to cattle if they try to eat them.

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