Also called burdock root in English, gobo is a root that’s long and slender with a brown, slightly fuzzy exterior. It looks kind of like a carrot crossed with horseradish and the interior is a pale off-white. Although native to most of the Eurasian continent, it’s not particularly popular in Europe — but has a medicinal tradition in China and is quite popular in Japanese cooking.
Gobo has a flavor that’s similar to many root vegetables and tubers yet is still distinct. It’s slightly sweet, mild, a bit bitter, and somewhat earthy. A common preparation method is soaking the root in cold water and a bit of vinegar to lessen its bitterness. And immature gobo is mellower and less harsh, so doesn’t need this step.
Its texture is also similar to other root vegetables: crisp and hard when raw, and much softer and more tender when cooked. Whether raw or cooked, gobo is often found in salads, soups, stir-fries, and pretty much any other dish that includes vegetables. Not only is it subtle yet tasty, it’s also high in fiber, calcium, potassium, and other minerals.
If you’re looking to cook with gobo, Uwajimaya carries it in our produce department. You can also find gobo tea, pickled gobo and Kinpira Gobo (a traditional Japanese dish of shredded gobo and carrots) in our deli.