Burdock root is utilized all year, found in all manner of forms: fried, stewed, baked or fresh. It is believed that burdock was introduced to the Japanese archipelago via Siberia and Eurasia, where it grows wild. Although it is unclear just when the vegetable first arrived in Japan, by the Classical Period (795-1185 C.E.) burdock root was decking the imperial dining table. However, it was not until the Edo Period (1603-1868 C.E.) that it took off in popularity as new varieties were developed. Burdock is one of my favorite Japanese vegetables, especially in the autumn. It grows wild here in the United States, so you can try to pick it yourself. As it's a rather deep rooted vegetable, buying it from your grocery market might be a better option. It has a pleasant spicy, earthy scent that can be singled out even in the open air. It’s a particularly pleasant experience to take an autumn walk and be greeted by this aromatic surprise. (Serves 2-3)
1 burdock root, peeled and julienned
1 small carrot, peeled and thickly julienned
5 to 6 sliced lotus root, peeled and julienned
1 ½ tablespoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon ponzu
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon mirin
¼ to ½ teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
Large pot, large bowl
1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the burdock root, and gently boil for 60 seconds. Add carrot, and cook for 30 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water.
2. Mix lotus root, burdock, carrot, mayonnaise, ponzu, sesame oil, mirin, sugar (if desired) and sesame seeds (if desired) in a large bowl.
3. Chill before serving.