Kinpira gobo is an everyday classic Japanese side dish, that will often be included in an obento, a lunch box. Since moving back to the U.S., I realized that looking for ingredients is part of the battle to enjoying foods you grew up with. If you can’t find gobo, just use all carrots.
What is Gobo? In English it is burdock, a root vegetable that literally looks like a long root. I’ve always wondered who ever figured this was edible was daring! Gobo has a distinctive, earthy taste that if not properly prepared, can leave a rather bitter after taste. But, because of that unusual flavor, it is quite addicting!
Now that I live in a neighborhood with Asian grocery stores, I can find gobo quite readily, because not only is it common in Japanese food, but Koreans use this vegetable in their cooking as well. If you’re looking for gobo, don’t forget to try Korean markets too. Now the word kinpira is referred to foods that are cooked or sautéd in soy sauce and mirin, which is a sweet rice wine that is used for cooking. Hence, kinpira gobo is sweet soy burdock.
Gobo can be prepared in the traditional manner, by scraping the skin with the back of the knife and shredding it. However, it is just too time consuming and if I had to use this method, I probably would never prepare gobo. So, I just do it the simple way, using a peeler and slicing.
Remember kinpira gobo is meant to be eaten with rice, not alone, therefore it has a rather strong flavor of soy and sugar. If you are making it for children,you may omit the chili. Hope you give this Japanese classic a try. And remember if there is no gobo, go ahead and make kinpira carrots!
- 1 gobo
- 1 carrot
- 1 tablespoon canola or salad oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon saké
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
- 1 dried chili
- Peel gobo. To cut into strips, first cut it on a diagonal then stack a few together and slice to make thin strips.
- Place all julienned gobo into a bowl of water to soak. This is the most important step so don't by pass this. When you soak the gobo, the water turns a slight pink.
- Rinse and soak again until the water becomes clear. By doing this you remove that "muddy" after taste.
- Peel and slice carrots into strips just like the gobo
- Heat wok until hot, add canola oil and sesame oil
- Add gobo and stir-fry for about a minute
- Add carrots and stir-fry to blend
- Add sugar, soy sauce, mirin, saké
- Break the chili pepper and add to the wok.
- There will be lots of liquid. What you want is for the vegetables to absorb all the liquid, so keep the flame rather high.
- Once the liquid is nearly absorbed, add the sesame seeds.
- Place in bowl and enjoy with a bowl of rice.