The first time I saw this stuff come in I was amazed, they were the longest root-type food I had ever seen. some were over 2 feet long! How do you even dig up something so deep? Cooking with it was a trial and error process as well. I quickly discovered how fast the root, when peeled, oxidizes and turns completely black/brown.
I tried to saute it, it was like eating wood chips. Then I braised it, but not long enough, it was still hard. The last time, I accidentally “overcooked” it, which was a revelation. It was soft, but toothy, and it had a strange flavor to it. Some people describe it as oyster like, and it is, a bit. It also has a sweet note to it though, it’s very good. Asian cuisine has known of it forever, where it’s often pickled, and goes by the name of “gobo”.
First off, you have to get the darn things out of the ground with out destroying them, you will need a large spade or shovel, unless it is spring and the taproots are small, then you can use a hand trowel and some elbow grease. Once it is out of the ground, bring it home and wash the dirt off of it. Then peel the brown skin off with a vegetable peeler.
Immediately put the peeled burdock/salsify into water seasoned with lemon or citric acid to preserve the color. If you are just going to braise it like a vegetable, simple put some chopped parsley stems in the water, this will stop the oxidization without flavoring it with lemon or acid.
From here, I like to slice the burdock into little coins, about 1/4 inch thick. After this, all you have to do is cook it in some liquid until it is nice and tender, this should take about 15-20 minutes. After it is cooked until tender, you can now use it just like any other cooked vegetable. It’s especially good cooked in brown butter until it is a little caramelized, then just sprinkled with some nice salt to taste it’s flavor.
In Asian Cuisine, you will often see pickled burdock on their menus. Their’s is a wider version of the root called gobo, you can purchase it in Asian markets.
Yield: one pint canning jar of pickled, sliced roots, scale as needed
- 8oz peeled burdock root, sliced into 1/4 in coins
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- Aromatics, like garlic, herbs, etc
- Place the sliced and peeled burdock in a pot with the water and salt.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer with a cover on to prevent water from evaporating for about 15-20 minutes, until the burdock root has the texture of a cooked artichoke, soft and yielding, it will still have a slightly firm texture, it’s ok.
- Add the vinegar to the burdock when it is cooked through, from here the mixture can be processed in a water bath canner in a pint jar for 15 minutes.