Burdock Root Tempura

The texture of gobo (burdock root) is like no other because of its fibrousness. When stir fried, it has an interesting crunch and when simmering in a stew, it becomes soft, but always retains its unique woodsiness. Deep frying it, however, is another matter. The edges of the fritter become light and crisp while the center is a little chewy.

What’s interesting about this recipe is the seasoning is added to the batter so you don’t have to make the tsuyu, or tempura sauce, to accompany it. Once you get through making the gobo shavings (illustrated in this video here), the rest is a breeze.

As the video shows, the easiest way to cut the gobo is to make 3 to 4 vertical incisions lengthwise, being careful not to cut all the way through. Then, like sharpening a pencil with a knife, you shave off the gobo while rotating it. The easiest way to do this is with a vegetable peeler. You will get thin and even pieces and it will go much quicker.

Is burdock root difficult to get in your area? You could also use carrots and onions and make a more traditional kakiage. Have this with a bowl of rice and a side of miso soup and pickles for a simple, delicious meal. Or, make small batches and serve as an appetizer.

Burdock Root Tempura | ごぼうのかき揚
Adapted from みんなのきょうのお料理
Makes 4 servings

7 oz. burdock root (about 1-2 pieces)
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. shoyu
oil for frying (I used canola)
shichimi (optional)

Peel the skin of the burdock root. I use the back of a kitchen knife and scrape off the skin under running water. Fill a medium bowl with water and set aside. Make 3 or 4 long incisions lengthwise, but do not cut through (video here). Shave the gobo into a sharp point with a knife or vegetable peeler (like sharpening a pencil with a blade), letting the shavings fly off into the water. Soak for 5 minutes and drain.

Meanwhile, fill your fryer/pan with 1.5 inches of oil and place over medium heat. You will want to start frying when the temperature level reaches between 325–350 degrees, so keep an eye on it.

In a medium bowl, add the flour, sugar, water, and shoyu and whisk with broad strokes. It’s fine if some of the flour isn’t incorporated. Next, briefly dry off with a paper towel any excess moisture from the burdock root and add to the flour mixture. Mix to incorporate.

When the oil has reached the appropriate temperature, slide a flat wood paddle or stainless spatula in the oil to coat. Then, place a small amount of the burdock root mixture onto your spatula and flatten out for even cooking. Carefully lower the spatula into the oil and slide the burdock off. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, flip, and fry for another 1-2 minutes. It’s easy to over cook, so be sure to check and see if the burdock root has turned a nice golden color.

Place on paper towels to drain and serve with a small sprinkle of shichimi.

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  1. Posted February 13, 2011 at 4:10 am | Permalink

    I miss gobo! I love it in kimpira but this looks great – I’m a fan of kakiage too, my stepmother makes great ones.

  2. Posted February 13, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Um, YUM. I love gobo, and this seems to me like a way better version of shoestring fries. Gobo > potatoes.

  3. Posted February 13, 2011 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Ooh, I love the idea of gobo replacing fries! Healthier, maybe? Still, they are deep fried!!

  4. Posted February 14, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous photos, as always! (I especially love the one of the gobo bubbling away in oil.) I bet this would be great sprinkled with a bit of sanshō, too.

  5. Posted March 9, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    First looking at the picture, i thought it was dried shredded squid. ;) What is burdock? How does it taste like?

  6. Posted March 10, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    It does look like dried squid! Burdock root is very crunchy and has a nice earthy flavor.

  7. Posted March 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Your blog is very cool. I am a huge fan of Japanese food. I love gobo. I have to try this tempura. Thanks for sharing!

  8. snowpuff
    Posted January 9, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    One of our local Japanese restaurants has this “gobo tempura” dish. It tastes wonderful when seasoned with lime juice.

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