On my recent tour, I had to prepare a barbecue for the group. I wanted to include Japanese ingredients, so I bought some gobo, burdock root which appears in many Japanese dishes.
Burdock is a tough lanky root vegetable. It grows up to 2 metres long, and has an earthy pungent flavour. Long absent from English cooking, it deserves a revival, although I might need some help on how.
On the tour, I barbecued the burdock for two hours, about 10 hours short of what was required. “It`s like chewing a cork”, one lady kindly commented. My kitchen-shy Devonian hands did not do the burdock justice.
On Sunday night, I visited a man who could. Kagami runs my local kushikatsu, a deep-fried food standing bar. I usually ask him for lotus root, pumpkin or banana. This time I ordered burdock.
Within minutes, Kagami had battered, then deep-fried 3 short chunks of burdock on a kushi stick. They tasted superb, chewy but chewable, with a sharp distinct flavour; this earthy robust root deserves a bigger audience.
So grateful for the revelation, I bought Kagami a beer. For some reason, he drank half it through his nose. Battering burdock all night must do strange things to you.