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Monday, April 09, 2007

Gobo Root (Burdock) Fries

Not so appetizing eh? Well, after my fried chicken recipe, Passionate Eater requested a salad or shake. I'm assuming she wanted something healthy, so I'll do you one better.
The unremarkable-looking gobo root (Japanese burdock) is reputed to help lower your cholestrol, clear toxins from your system, alleviate psoriasis or eczema, treat sore throats, colds, even measles, lowers the incidence of diabetes, combats hair loss, cures scalp problems, gives you healthy, shiny hair, and helps you live to 100. Gee, can gobo root create world peace too? ;)
But seriously, I remember watching a news segment long ago that explores why so many of the people in this village in Japan lived to 100. One of the reasons was because they ate gobo root daily. That information stayed in the back of my mind. Years later, I tried it after seeing fried gobo root on the specials menu at Shin-Sen-Gumi in Fountain Valley. So recently when I saw it at the Asian grocery store for 69 cents, I bought two.
The tap root of gobo can be as long as 3 feet. The outer skin is very thin, similar to carrots. The inside is white as you can see below. You can either scrape the outside layer with a knife or use a peeler. I've read descriptions that likened it to an artichoke. To me, it tasted a little Chinese medicine-y, like soft, very fibrous wood. OK, interpret that in the very nicest possible way. :) But it did taste very healthy.
My mom boils it in a veggie broth and drinks it to be healthy. Since I liked it so much as fries the one time I had it, I decided to do it that way again.
Two gobo roots will create maybe slightly more than 1 cup of fries. I used rice flour because I wanted a light coating for crunch but didn't want a thick heavy batter.
Gobo Root (Burdock) Fries
2 gobo roots, ends trimmed, peeled, julienned thickly
1/4 to 1/2 cup rice flour
a few sprinkles of salt
oil for frying
Optional: sweet chili sauce for dipping
The gobo roots will darken when exposed to air so after chopping off the ends, peeling, and thickly julienning the gobo roots, let them soak in water until the color turns dark. Drain and soak again. Then when you're ready for frying, drain into a colander and add a few dashes of salt to season.
Add about 1/2 cup of water to 1/4 cup of rice flour, adding more flour if needed until you get a slightly thick but still watery mixture. Add julienned gobo roots and stir until evenly coated.
In a wok or fry pan on medium heat, add coated gobo roots and fry until golden.
Serve with sweet chili sauce if you wish.


  1. thx WC, I'm so gonna get this, I've no idea what it is, seen this plenty times at the market arghh..

  2. Anything fried up is healthy! What the heck are you thinking ;-)
    I've got to try this.

  3. I love gobo, but I usually keep coming back to kimpira, maybe because it always works out so well. It's also good in nimono (simmered vegetable dishes) and occasionally nice roasted with salt and olive oil along with some other roots.

  4. I've seen these around some shops but never known what to with them. Will definitely have to try the fries - fried and healthy! Can't ask for more.

  5. My uncle buys this sometimes and I always called them wooden sticks. Who knew they had such potent medicinal uses!

  6. He-he-he, I've been eating Gobo since I was a kid(being Japanese and all)...maybe that's why my Grandparents lived to be 98 and 96 respectively! It was also one of the few items I was allowed to help prepare, since we used a spoon to scrape off the "skin". Nice, different rendition.....

  7. Hi WC,

    I love eating this stuff! They are really crunchy! I usually stir-fry it with Fresh lily bulb and a little sugar! Yummy!

    Never thought to make it like french fries! Bet I can make my 2yr son eat this now!!!

  8. I haven't seen this before. Maybe will keep a look out for it. Cheers to healthy fries!

  9. WC, this looks like a great idea. What is the texture like after frying? Is it still woody? Or is it fluffy on the insides?

  10. Mmm, pass the antioxidant laden ketchup, because I want me some of these deep-fried gobo treats! Thanks for the "healthy" post! ;)

  11. MW,
    It's always fun to try cooking new veggies.

    Try making it the other two methods I tried and you'll go back to frying it if that's the only way to get you to eat gobo.

    Ha! Jinx! I did both kimpira and roasted methods too.

    I know burdock was real popular in Europe during the Middle Ages, wonder how Europeans would cook it?

    Wooden sticks is right. They positively smelled medicinal to me. Chinese medicinal. Sort of ginseng-y.

    98 and 96? Wow! Guess it does work!

    Maybe I'll have to give your method a try next.

    Hehe, well, if fries could be healthy, this would be the way to do it. :P


    Definitely not fluffy. Just slightly softer in the middle but still very fibrous and woody. But definitely an interesting taste.

    You're welcome. ;)

  12. COOL! I love the sweet chili dipping sauce.

  13. Jaden,
    Me too! I love it with egg rolls.


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