Kinpira gobo is a quick and easy side dish and a staple in Japanese homes. Made with burdock root and carrots in a sweet and savoury sauce, this crunchy side is nutritious and delicious! Perfect to serve with Japanese meals and put in bento boxes!
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Sudachi Recipes is part of the amazon associates programme and earns a small percentage from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. See disclaimer for more info.
What is Kinpira Gobo?
Kinpira Gobo (きんぴらごぼう) is a traditional and well loved Japanese side dish made with finely cut burdock root that has been stir fried and then simmered in a sweet and savoury sauce.
Other hardy root vegetables such as lotus roots and carrots are often added too, we sometimes even add chili to give the dish a spicy kick!
You’ll often see this humble dish in Japanese homes because it’s quick and easy to make. It’s versatile and can be eaten with Japanese style breakfast, teishoku lunch or with dinner. We often put it in bento boxes too!
What is gobo?
Gobo (ごぼう) is a long root vegetable known as “burdock root” in English. It’s a biennial plant of the Asteraceae family that is native to temperate zones of Europe and Asia. Interestingly, it is not native to Japan and is considered to have come from China a long long time ago.
Another interesting fact is that even though gobo can be found in various places around the world and is often used for tea and medicine, Japan is the only country that uses it as a vegetable in cooking.
What is kinpira?
Although kinpira gobo is the most popular, technically any ingredient cooked in this way can be called “kinpira”.
Japanese dishes are usually given names that hint at its history or origin. However, the name “kinpira” doesn’t give anything away, I couldn’t begin to guess where it comes from without researching it.
The word “kinpira” actually comes from an old sub-genre of Japanese puppet theatre called “Kinpira Joruri”. These kinds of plays were popular in the early Edo period (1600’s) and the genre itself was named after a popular protagonist in one of the plays called Sakata no Kinpira (坂田金平).
Kinpira Sakata was depicted as very strong and brave figure, and the name “Kinpira Gobo” is said to be born from the fact that the crunchy texture of burdock root and the strong spiciness of chili peppers can be compared to the strength of Kinpira no Sakata. It might sound a bit farfetched, but this is by far the most promising answer to the origins of kinpira gobo’s name.
Not only this, but burdock is also considered an energizing food with many health benefits. For this reason, it was believed that if you eat kinpira gobo, you can become strong like Kinpira Sakata.
Ingredients to make this kinpira gobo
Although kinpira gobo requires few ingredients, it does require many condiments. In this section, you will find the ingredients needed to make kinpira gobo using this recipe, along with tips on how to choose each ingredient.
- Burdock root (gobo) – It is recommended to choose burdocks covered with soil, as they will last longer if the soil is still attached. It is also advisable to choose burdocks with few whiskers and some thickness all the way to the tips as much as possible, and avoid those that are soft and bendy.
- Carrot – Adds colour and sweetness to the dish. Medium sized carrot will be suitable for this recipe.
- Dry chili pepper – It is recommended for those who want a tangy and spicy taste, but can be omitted for those who do not.
- Chicken bouillon powder – Preferably Chinese style chicken soup stock powder. I personally use Yuki Garasupu.
- Tsuyu sauce – If you want to know how to make tsuyu sauce from scratch at home, you can check out my tsuyu sauce recipe, you can also buy store-bought one like Kikkoman’s.
- Sake – Adds umami to the sauce. If you want to know more about sake for cooking, please check out my “20 Most Useful Condiments and Seasonings for Japanese Cooking” article.
- Light brown sugar – Light brown sugar gives a richer flavor, but white sugar is also fine.
- Sesame oil – Adds a hint of nutty flavour. I recommend classic Kadoya’s pure sesame oil.
- Soy sauce – The key condiment for flavour, adds saltiness and umami.
- Mirin – For sweetness and depth. I recommend Hinode’s Hon Mirin.
- White sesame seeds – This is to garnish at the end.
How to make this kinpira gobo recipe
Kinpira gobo is extremely easy to make, just follow these simple steps to whip up this nutritious and tasty side dish in no time!
Wash the gobo with clean running water to remove the soil and then scrape off the skin using the back of a knife.
The skin of burdock root is very thin, so to avoid taking away too much of the actual vegetable, it’s better to use the back of a knife (rather than the blade or a peeler) to scrape it off.
Cut the burdock root into thin diagonal slices to increase the surface area, then julienne each slice (thin strips).
Transfer the julienned gobo to a bowl of cold water and allow it to soak for 5 minutes. This will remove some of the bitterness and help prevent discoloration.
Peel and julienne the carrot so that it’s the same size as the burdock root, and if you’re using chili, deseed and thinly slice it.
Mix the chicken bouillon powder, tsuyu sauce, sake and light brown sugar in a small bowl and set aside for later.
Heat a pan on medium and add sesame oil. Once hot, add the sliced chili and fry until fragrant.
Add the burdock root and carrot to the pan and stir fry for a few minutes or until slightly softened.
Pour the mixed sauce from earlier and turn up the heat to high. Fry until the liquid has reduced completely.
Once the liquid is gone, add the soy sauce and continue to stir fry until completely reduced.
Finally, add the mirin and stir fry until no liquid is left in the pan.
Once the liquid is completely reduced and absorbed into the vegetables, sprinkle with sesame seeds and mix.
Transfer the kinpira gobo to a serving dish and enjoy!
Tips and tricks
Kinpira gobo is a pretty fail-free dish, but here are a few tips for getting it perfect, especially if its your first time cooking with burdock root!
- Wash the burdock root thoroughly to remove the soil, this is to prevent dirt coming into contact with the inside when you cut it.
- Scrape with the back of a knife to remove the skin. Since burdock skin is very thin, using a peeler or the blade of the knife will waste a considerable amount of the actual vegetable.
- Julienne the ingredients to keep the cooking time quick.
- Soak the burdock for about 5 minutes in fresh cold water, this removes the harshness and some of the bitterness.
- Flavour the oil with chili to spread the chili’s heat and flavour evenly through the dish. Alternatively, you can cook with chili oil or chili infused sesame oil.
- Add soy sauce and mirin separately near the end of cooking, this will improve the overall flavour and prevent the soy sauce from burning.
Kinpira gobo is a great dish to prepare in advance and use for various meals over a few days. Just keep it in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 3-4 days.
Since it’s quick and easy to make, I don’t tend to freeze kinpira gobo. Freezing is possible, but the taste and texture will deteriorate quickly so it’s recommended to divide it into single portions, wrap and store them in an air tight container to prevent freezer burn and consume within 1 month.
To defrost kinpira gobo, defrost at room temperature for 1 hour or in the fridge overnight. Alternatively, heat each portion in the microwave at 500W for about 30 seconds.
Kinpira Gobo (Braised Burdock Root)
- 200 g burdock root(s)
- 100 g carrot(s)
- 1 dried red chili pepper optional
- 1 tbsp tsuyu sauce see how to make your own tsuyu sauce here
- 1 tbsp sake
- ½ tsp Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder or plant-based alternative
- 1 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- Wash 200 g burdock root(s) thoroughly and scrape off the skin using the back of a knife.
- Cut the burdock root into thin diagonal slices and then each slice into thin strips (julienne). They should be about 5cm long and 3-4mm thick.
- Soak the julienned burdock root in a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes.
- Peel and julienne 100 g carrot(s), the pieces should be the same size as the gobo. Then deseed 1 dried red chili pepper and thinly slice.
- In a small bowl, mix the 1 tbsp tsuyu sauce, 1 tbsp sake, ½ tsp Chinese-style chicken bouillon powder and 1 tbsp light brown sugar until completely dissolved. Set aside for later.
- Heat a pan on medium-high and drizzle in 1 tbsp sesame oil. Add the dry chili to the pan and fry until fragrant.
- Add the carrot and burdock root and fry for a few minutes until slightly softened.
- Pour in the bowl of sauce from earlier and turn the heat up to high. Fry until the liquid is reduced completely.
- Add 1 ½ tbsp soy sauce and fry until reduced.
- Finally add 1 tbsp mirin and stir fry everything together until all the sauce has completely reduced/absorbed into the ingredients.
- Turn off the heat, add 1 tbsp white sesame seeds and mix well.
- Serve and enjoy!
Burdock tastes uniquely earthy, a bit like artichoke or parsnip. It’s crunchy, slightly sweet, and a little nutty. Imagine biting into a refreshing root vegetable with a sweet finish – that’s more or less burdock!
u0022Kinpira Gobou0022 is a traditional Japanese dish known in English as u0022Braised Burdock Rootu0022. It’s a hearty, flavorful dish in which thinly sliced burdock root and carrots are stir-fried and glazed with soy sauce and sugar.
u0022Kinpirau0022 in Japanese cuisine generally refers to a dish prepared by cutting vegetables or seaweed into small pieces, stir-frying them, and seasoning them with a small amount of sugar and soy sauce. Kinpira made from burdock and carrot are particularly popular.
Yes, u0022gobou0022 and u0022burdocku0022 are the same thing. u0022Gobou0022 is the Japanese name for the root of the burdock plant. It’s a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine known for its earthy flavor and crunchy texture.