Stir fried to perfection, Kinpira Gobo is a delicious Japanese side dish of carrot and burdock root in a sauce of soy, mirin and sake. Vegan friendly too!
Why We Love This
This is a quick and easy Japanese stir fry with a spicy zing. Whip it up as a healthy vegan side dish or delicious addition to homemade bento boxes.
Reading: how to stir fry burdock root
Bursting with flavour, it uses everyday Japanese seasonings you probably already have on hand if you enjoy cooking Asian dishes at home.
What is Kinpira Gobo?
Kinpira means ‘to sauté and simmer’. Gobo is the Japanese name for burdock root. This dish is usually made with thin slices of carrot and burdock root steam-fried in a base of soy sauce, sake, mirin, and dashi stock, with a sprinkling of raw sugar and a handful of chopped red chilli to amp up the flavour.
Where We Learned This
We first learned this recipe during a private lesson from a Japanese chef, organised by our wonderful couch surfing host in Okayama.
With the restaurant closed for the night, we had the whole kitchen to ourselves. She taught us how to slice burdock into slivers using the sasagaki method, which after a little practice, becomes much easier to do than you might think.
What You’ll Need
- Burdock – Burdock is a 2 foot long root vegetable that looks a bit like a long and flexible brown carrot. Where carrots tend to be juicy and sweet, burdock has an earthy crunch all of its own. While it’s sold in everyday supermarkets in Japan, it can be a little harder to source in other countries. Asian groceries or markets are going to be your best source for fresh burdock. We’ve found both frozen pre-sliced burdock and dried burdock pieces at different grocers in our area. Dried burdock probably be reconstituted and then chopped up into finer slivers, although we haven’t tried this yet, so please let us know if you do. If you can’t source any burdock, other crunchy vegetables make the best substitute – think carrot, parsnip, asparagus, lotus root slices or capsicums. They’ll all be equally delicious when cooked using this method.
- Dashi Stock – To keep things simple we use dashi stock powder dissolved in hot water. It’s available in two main varieties – hon dashi (a more intense flavoured stock made with bonito flakes) or kombu dashi (seaweed only stock). Use whichever style you prefer.
- Mirin – This is a sweet rice wine for cooking. If you can’t find it at your supermarket, you can omit or add in a tsp of sugar instead. You can sometimes find this in regular supermarkets, otherwise head to your nearest Asian grocer or online.
- Cooking Sake – This is a type of Japanese rice wine for cooking. You can substitute with Chinese cooking wine, or a regular dry white wine if you need.
How to Slice Vegetables for Kinpira Gobo – Two Ways:
Traditional Sasagaki Style – Best for Burdock
Hold the thick end of the burdock root, and cut vertical slices into the thinner end. Now hold the root on a 45˚ angle and shave with your knife – just like sharpening a pencil the old fashioned way. Rotate the burdock continually as you go.
When sliced this way, he shavings should be quite fine and thin – this will give you a delicious crunchy texture while allowing the burdock to soak up all the flavours from the seasonings.
Once you reach the end of your first round of vertical cuts, make new vertical cuts as before, then continue to shave on the 45˚ angle.
Once you reach the very end of the burdock and you can’t make any more shavings, just slice up the rest of the root as thinly as you can.
Watch this video to see it in action:
Julienne Style – Best for Carrot
Cut each carrot into half, then square off the edges until you have long rectangular blocks. Slice each block into thin planks, then cut through each plank again to form matchsticks. You can stack a few planks on top of each other to make this process a bit quicker.
- Preparing the Burdock – Just like unwashed potatoes, when you buy fresh burdock from the market it will usually still have dirt on it. Give it a good wash under running water to remove the dirt. You may also like to brush the skin with a vegetable brush. To maintain it’s delicious earthy flavour, avoid peeling the burdock before slicing. We recommend only slicing just before you’re ready to cook, and soaking the slices in water while you’re preparing the carrot. This helps to keep it fresh and stop the colour changing, while also helping to remove some of the astringent flavour. Drain and squeeze out any remaining liquid just before cooking.
- Presentation – Whether you use the julienne or sasagaki method, don’t worry too much about perfectly formed slices or presentation. No matter how it looks, it will still taste amazing!
Variations & Substitutes
- Garnishes – Sprinkle with white sesame seeds, shichimi togarashi spice blend, or a drizzling of rayu chilli oil to taste.
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