Kinpira Burdock and Carrot with Baby Arugula and Toasted Sesame Seeds
Burdock is a wonderful vegetable I discovered years ago in my study of macrobiotics. It’s touted for it’s exceptional health benefits. It’s is said to be detoxifying as well as a blood purifier. Springtime is a great time to use burdock, when the first year’s growth is tender. Burdock does need to cook for a while though, so just keep that in mind.
Here’s a recipe for Kinpira Burdock and Carrot with Baby Arugula, a traditional Japanese dish – well, not traditional with the baby arugula, but the carrot and burdock is.
The photo is of burdock and baby arugula, no carrot.
½ lb burdock – cut in fine matchsticks, about ¼” thick and 2” long
Soak in cool filtered water for about 30 minutes before cooking.
¼ lb carrot – cut into matchsticks, a little thicker than the burdock
1 to 2 tablespoons either sesame oil (untoasted), toasted sesame oil, coconut oil or olive oil
sea salt – to taste
shoyu, gluten free tamari or coconut aminos* (see note below on using coconut aminos)– to taste
Optional: 2 teaspoons honey or agave syrup – or to taste
Optional: 2 teaspoons mirin ** or sherry – or to taste
handful of baby arugula
Optional: hot pepper sesame oil or any hot sauce
toasted sesame seeds
* About using coconut aminos: There are currently two brands of coconut aminos on the market: Coconut Secret and Ojio. Both are delicious. Both have a natural sweetness. Coconut Secret doesn’t have salt in it so you may need to add little more salt to the dish. Ojio does have some salt so you many not need the additional salt. Also, because coconut aminos have a lovely natural sweetness to them you may not need any additional sweetness, which the honey or agave have and the mirin/sherry have.
A note about burdock – wash it well using a natural bristle vegetable brush, but don’t peel.
It’s going to still look dirty even after you wash it!
After slicing the burdock, put it into cold filtered water for about a half an hour while you prep the carrot.
Drain the burdock and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Put the oil of your choice in a heavy pot or skillet.
Heat the oil on medium-high and put the burdock in the pot. Add a small amount of either shoyu, gluten-free tamari, or coconut aminos, a little sea salt and stir quickly. Add a small amount of water to just cover the bottom of the pot: about ¼ inch.
Cover the pot and cook the burdock for approximately 20 to 30 minutes before adding the carrot. Stir and check regularly to make sure it isn’t burning. You will most likely need to be adding a little water every so often as the burdock cooks.
It is difficult to say exactly how long to cook the burdock before adding the carrot. The burdock may be dry and need longer cooking or the matchsticks may be smaller in size or more watery and need less cooking. When the burdock is cooked enough it will have changed color, be a bit gray. Raw burdock has an astringency and an earthy flavor that I can only describe as “wild”. When the burdock is well cooked it loses that “wild” flavor. No worries about overcooking burdock – no matter how long you cook burdock it stays firm.
Next add the carrot and stir, stir, stir. Put the lid on the pot again to let the carrot steam a bit.
If necessary, again add a very small amount of water. Use only enough to prevent burning. The goal is to have a rubbery-crunchy texture to the carrots. Cooked, not raw, but still having a bit of firmness. Too much water and you’ll boil the carrots, they will start falling apart and lose a bit of their natural sweetness. Not enough and it’ll burn.
Ok – so I’m probably making it sound like it’s much harder to cook this dish than it actually is. It’s not that hard, I’m just covering the bases for those of you who are new to cooking – especially burdock.
Put the lid on the pot and let it cook a minute or so. Then stir again. When carrots are just about done add either the shoyu, gluten-free tamari, or coconut aminos, and if you’d like a little sweetness in the dish, the honey or agave and mirin or sherry and, if you are using it, a splash of hot sauce.
When done, the consistency of the vegetables should be rubbery and crunchy, cooked but not too soft. The carrots should not be breaking up.
Add toasted sesame seeds and a handful of baby arugula and serve.
**Mirin is traditionally added to this dish to bring a sweetness to it. Real mirin, which is cooking sake, is quite expensive. Most of what you will find in Asian markets is just sugar water. Sweet sherry is often used as a replacement for mirin since it’s more readily available and not as expensive.
**I do like this dish without any sweetener added at all.
Variations on a theme:
My clients love this with a bit of green beans also – slice the green beans and add them when you add the carrot.
Rather than using hot pepper sesame oil or hot sauce add 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes in the beginning when you add the burdock.
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