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Turkish-Style Burdock Root

Burdock root, also known as gobo, tastes something like a nutty artichoke potato. The long, slender, flexible roots don’t look like much, but they have a lot of flavor if you slice them thin and braise them to bring it out. Don’t bother peeling off their thin skin, which is both tasty and good for you. (I found that I kept accidentally scraping part it of it off while washing it, but don’t worry yourself over that.)

Dave and I gathered a group of friends together to go foraging in Prospect Park (a/k/a our second, bigger backyard) with Wildman Steve Brill. The Wildman, who even answers the phone by that name, brought this dish as part of his packed lunch. He was kind enough to share it with the entire group, along with his homemade day lily sherbet. The burdock was so good, we were relieved to hear that he had posted the recipe to his website the night before!

The first year burdock with the tasty, tasty roots is a weed with large, wide leaves growing directly out of the ground. You can easily dig it up in NYC parks with nothing more than a small shovel and a peek at Wildman Steve Brill’s instructions.

This style of preparing burdock root is so simple that it can be hard to understand where all the flavor is coming from. Although the vegan Wildman would probably object, we like it best served alongside soupy rice simmered with a bit of bacon in chicken stock.

Turkish-Style Burdock Root
(adapted from Wildman Steve Brill‘s recipe)
2-1/2 C very thin burdock root slices
2 C water, or as needed
1 medium onion, chopped
3 big shallots (or an equivalent quantity of small ones), chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
2 tsp minced fresh dill weed
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Stir all ingredients together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, lid on, for about 30-45 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 15-30 minutes, or until most of the water is evaporated or absorbed and the burdock has reached the balance of crisp and tender that pleases you best.

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9 Responses to “Turkish-Style Burdock Root”

  1. Annemarie says:

    I never thought of burdock root hunting, but now I’m intrigued to find some myself. I’ve also always hoped to run across wild horseradish, garlic, and rocket but never concentrate enough when I’m out on my walks. Thanks for giving me the reminder that I need to look down every so often to find something tasty!

  2. So weird…I JUST bought a bunch of burdock root at the asian market yesterday…and didn’t want to do the traditional japanese stirfry…and now i have a recipe!


  3. lance says:

    What an interesting recipe. I also had it only the “traditional japanese stirfry” style. If you’d like the gobo to be more on a nice light brown color, instead of a little on the blackish brown side, after slicing it into pieces let the pieces sit in tapped water for awhile till the black color comes out into the water then fry. I forget how long to leave it in the cold water.

  4. Lisa says:

    I’ve never heard of such a thing. I’m so intrigued now. We have these giant elephant eared shaped, what I call “weeds”, growing in our back yard around our pond. I’m going to go see what the undersides look like – maybe it’s the edible kind!


  5. I think I know what this is…was at a yakitori place and they have grilled gobo and I was wondering what is gobo. ;)

  6. Cathy says:

    Lovely! You did a much better job with Prospect Park burdock root than I did — it should make the Wildman proud.

  7. Danielle says:

    Annemarie – I’m bad at remembering to do it, too. I live just a few blocks from Prospect Park, and I so rarely walk around there, let alone forage. I pass by a mulberry tree on my way home from sometimes, and the only time I picked any this year was when I noticed a father lifting his small daughter up to reach them and was reminded that they exist. It’s hard to stay aware when we are busy and have so much on our minds. It’s valuable, though, I think.

    SK – So, did you try it? What did you think?

    lance – I’ve actually never had it ‘traditional japanese stirfry’ style myself. Thanks for the advice on soaking it!

    Lisa – Oh, wow, that would be awesome if it turned out you just happened to have burdock growing in your backyard.

    RM – We have a restaurant in the area called Gobo, and now I finally know what it means, too!

    Cathy – I dunno, I saw your salad post and it looked pretty good. The Wildman should be proud of us all.

  8. tartelette says:

    I only had it once before and it was the traditional stir fry style. I will look for it here but I doubt I’ll find it again…might have to go beg a few well placed chef friends. Looks really good.

  9. Julie says:

    In high school I discovered Euell Gibbons and his book Stalking the Wild Asparagus.

    There are any number of plants I learned to identify from that book, and burdock is one of them, although I’ve never eaten it. But I adore artichoke and now that I’ve read your description of its taste being nutty and artichoke-like I’m interested in finding it.

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