Used widely in Asia for medicinal and culinary purposes, burdock is a root vegetable that looks like a long, pale carrot. Burdock is rich in vitamins C and B, as well as magnesium and other minerals. It is considered a cleansing food that removes toxins from the body. Burdock has a crunchy, earthy taste that is a tasty complement to soups and stir-fries. Burdock is a common weed in North America, and it can also be found fresh or dried in Asian markets and natural food stores.
Buy fresh burdock that still has dirt on the outside, and don't wash it until you're ready to cook it. Burdock wilts very quickly after the dirt and outer skin are washed off.
Scrub the burdock well before cooking, but don't remove the nutritious skin. If you are not cooking the burdock immediately after cutting or chopping it, let it sit in a bowl of 2 cups of water mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar to keep it from turning brown.
Slice burdock as you would a carrot for most recipes. In stir-fries, burdock is usually prepared in small slivers, which you can make by slicing from the top of the root like you're sharpening a pencil. Burdock can also be cut in a french-fry shape for frying.
Make fried burdock chips for an interesting, healthy twist on french fries. Heat 2 cups of vegetable oil to 325 degrees Fahrenheit in a frying pan. Whittle the burdock into small, thin slices and fry it in the oil until it's crispy. Salt it to taste.
Try a hearty root-vegetable side dish. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and chop burdock, carrots, fennel, potatoes and turnips into small chunks. You should have about a cup of each vegetable. Mix the vegetables together and put them in a shallow oven pan. Drizzle them with olive oil and mix them around until they're evenly covered. Sprinkle the vegetables with garlic salt and black pepper, and then bake for 45 minutes. Stir the vegetables 2 or 3 times while baking.
Throw together a traditional Asian stir-fry with burdock, green onions and carrots. Slice 2 cups of burdock and carrots into small pieces, and chop a cup of green onions. Heat a tablespoon each of vegetable oil and sesame oil in a large frying pan or wok. Cook 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds in the oil for about a minute, then add the vegetables. Cook on medium-high heat for five minutes. Add a tablespoon of soy sauce and cook it for another 10 minutes. If desired, add a teaspoon of brown sugar with the soy sauce.
About this Author
Sarah Metzker Erdemir is an expat writer and ESL teacher living in Istanbul since 2002. A fiction writer for more than 25 years, she began freelance writing and editing in 2000. Ms. Metzker Erdemir holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Romance languages and linguistics as well as a TESOL Master of Arts degree. She has written articles for eHow, Garden Guides, and ConnectEd.