My Favorite Burdock Root Recipe

Around the time that I was seven two very important things hap- pened to me: my mother taught me how to dig up burdock root and I fell in love with a little novel about a white boy who was raised by Indians, called A light In The Forest. That spring, imag- ining that I was True Son (the main character in the novel), I spent long afternoons foraging my neighborhood for the best burdock roots I could find. One day during summer break, my friend Yoshiro and I were digging in a fenced in private field (where we were not supposed to be) when two wolf-like dogs raced after us and one of them feasted on my little nine year old tush as I was frantically scurrying over the fence. I screamed like a banshee as I tossed the burdock to safety to the other side of the fence. Later that night, lying on my stomach in bed and with a big Band-Aid covering my stitches, I savored the sweet root. It was so delicious that I couldn’t help but think it was almost worth getting bitten for. The following is my mom’s recipe. It’s quite good but I can’t guar- antee, however, that you’ll feel that it’s worth a dog bite on your bum.

You can find burdock root almost anywhere and you usually don’t have to fend off wild dogs to get to a patch. It tends to grow where people have allowed nature to take over fields and road- sides. Once you learn to identify it, you will literally see it every- where. Since it is a biennial you can always find big thick roots that are perfect for eating.

If you are lucky and the soil is loose and sandy sometimes you can pull a two feet long burdock root right out of the soil by the stalks. But more often, you have to carefully dig around the root. After digging the root up, you have to thoroughly scrub its brown outer surface with a scouring pad. I find that a peeler takes off too much of the delicate edible surface.

Cut the burdock into as thin strips as you can. Cut into equally thin strips, half as much carrot as you have burdock. Boil both for burdock for fifteen minutes than toss out the water. Add new water and when it boils again toss in the carrot strips and boil for another five minutes than toss out the water again. Add a splash of roasted sesame oil, white cane sugar (I hate to use white sugar because it is terrible for you but it works the best for the recipe) and soy sauce to taste and stirfry it until the liquid is totally evapo- rated. Cook on low to medium heat so you can take your time, adjusting the seasoning to how you would like it to taste. You want the roots to be sweet like sweet potato and to have the texture of undercooked pasta.

Nipponese Bar-B-Q Recipe

As spring time arrives, like all blue-blooded Asians, one of my favorite things to do is a Bar-B-Q. Though professionally I am known as a sushi rodeo champ, at home I adored more for my Bar- B-Q than anything else. Since there is no culture of outdoor family Bar-B-Qing in Japan (and since there isn’t a form of cooking more American than Bar-B-Q), lighting up my outdoor grill is the first thing that I do when family visits from the land of the rising sun. The following recipe is an ultra easy, mega delicious Bar-B-Q with a Nipponese Twist.

This recipe works especially well on dark meat chicken; thighs, legs, gizzards and hearts. When I do organ meat, skewering them first is the most convenient way I know how to grill them. The marinade also works marvelously with large medallions of egg- plant and zucchini. Since eggplant is very absorbant, be sure not to marinate it for more than a few minutes on each side.

Like most of what I do, I took the idea for this Bar-B-Q from my mom but claim that it’s my own original recipe. I use organic free- range chicken because as the Yanomamo of the Amazon Rainforest say, “a happy chicken is a delicious chicken!”

A dozen or so chicken thighs and legs and/or three pounds of chopped vegetables or so
2 cups Japanese Soy Sauce (such as Kikkoman brand)
4 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Golf ball sized chunk of fresh Ginger
Ten cloves fresh Garlic
2 tablespoons sake or white wine
2 heaping tablespoon of tomato paste

Using an electric blender, puree all of the marinade ingredients for about ten seconds so that the ginger and garlic are finely chopped but not totally minced. If you end up totally mincing it, no big deal, the marinade will still be fan-tastic!

Massage the marinade into the chicken and vegetables and refrigerate in remaining marinade for approximately two hours prior to grilling. Be sure to turn the ingredients in the marinade so that the flavors infuse evenly on all sides.