Cooking Gobo

Gobo- burdock root in English- is one of my favorite root “vegetables”.

I remember the first time that I saw it. A long thin, brown root wrapped in cello lying on my mother-in-law’s kitchen floor under the ledge at the bottom of the sink counter.

Puzzled, I picked it up, smelled it, tried to figure out what on earth it was. Mother in law came into the kitchen. While opening the cabinet to take out the tea cups- she glanced at me.



She placed the tea cups on a tray.

“Hai, gobo”.

Later that evening she showed me how to prepare gobo for cooking and together we made a traditional “every-day” burdock-root dish for dinner. This dish has become one of my favorites.

Gobo comes packed in cello bags in the supermarket .


It’s a member of the thistle family as you can see by the top most photo. When it flowers it blooms purple thistles.

It’s interesting how they harvest gobo. In order to make sure that the roots are not broken during harvesting they dig a deep trench and take the roots out from the side. These photos were taken from a Japan farmer’s co-op website.

Mother in law taught me not to peel gobo instead, it’s scrubbed clean with a small bamboo scrubber.


Then you slice the gobo root sideways almost like you are sharpening a pencil the old-fashioned way.


When you are done with the root, thinly slice some carrots and throw everything into a frying pan that has been heated with a little oil in it.

In the photo below I added some precooked potato noodles but you don’t need to add them. Some people throw in a little dried pepper, occasionally I add some.

I also sprinkled some sesame seeds into the pan. img_5185

I saute the mixture for about 5 minutes or so to make sure the gobo is cooked and then I add my seasonings.


My main cooking base is kombu-dashi which is a stock made from seaweed. Kombu is seaweed. The bottle in the middle is a type of kombu dashi we order from a supplier. It’s low salt and all natural. It is a little on the expensive side but we buy it by the case. I use it daily for many dishes so I want a good quality product. I almost never use salt when I cook -or sugar for that matter.

I added about a tablespoon of kombu-dashi to the pan.  I drizzled a little sesame oil into it also. That was all the seasoning that I added.


After cooking, the dish was garnished with a few more sesame seeds. Simple. Delicious. It has kind of a nutty flavor and retains its crunchiness after cooking.

Burdock is super nutritious and it has been used as a medicinal plant for a long time. You can check out the nutrition facts here.

12 thoughts on “Cooking Gobo

  1. All that is going on in my head is Rutabaga and Parsnips. With my auto-immune, I’m sure eating more of these (and Burdock) would be super healthy but my mind was traumatized when I was a child at the mercy of my parents garden.
    I really wish I could dream up a cook just for me and I would dutiably eat what was set in front of me.

  2. Cooking gobo has always been intimidating to me, so I always ask certain people who cook it deliciously, to make a bit for me when they do. Now that you’ve posted mother-in-law’s prep secrets, I think I might give it another try.

  3. It really isn’t hard. If I can do it you can. I experimented a bit with it and personally I (and hubby) like it best when it is dumped into a hot pan with a bit of oil and sauteed ….I’ve tried different ways but for some reason that brings out the nutty flavor we like. Good luck! Tell me how it goes!

  4. A health food cafe I went to once served chocolate-gobo cake. I asked the waitress if it was good before I ordered it…I couldn’t believe that it would be, but I didn’t even taste the gobo! I’ve still never tried to cook gobo myself. Maybe I’ll give it a whirl sometime.

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