Burdock root – Gobo

Curiousity got the better of me, once again. So, I bought something that I have never seen, do not know how to cook and have no idea how it tastes. Buy I must. Cook I did.

Burdock root?  Gobo

The label from Tesco said it is cobo. Spelt with a c. I asked in my other food blog and Romantic, a blog reader told me it is gobo or burdock root. I found burdock root mentioned in Wikipedia. It is use by the Japanese as pickles.

The root is about 2 and half feet long and it is a nuisance carrying it in the packed supermarket because I kept poking into people with the long root. Before this, I do not know it is burdock and I just use my instinct to peel off the skin and boil it as soup.

But after peeling off the hair skin, I notice that there is another layer of thick skin which comes off easily. I threw that away. Inside, the root looks white and smells earthy. However, they turned into ugly greenish pieces. That’s why I don’t bother to take photo of the hideous soup.

The soup tastes fine as I boiled it with spare ribs and red dates and garlic. I thought the root is edible but it turned out to be inedible because it is really tough.

At some point, I do wonder if I am cooking a pot of poison roots and killing us all. So, from now on, I won’t try something unless I have someone to tell me what it is and how to cook.

Warning : I read on Google books Burdock root is to be used with caution by pregnant women. So, don’t take anything weird if you are planning to get pregnant, is pregnant or lactating.

Another site mentioned :

Burdock root is eaten as a vegetable in many places. It has many nutrients like iron, inulin (a carbohydrate), and beneficial oils. Also, burdock can be used as a gentle laxative and help eradicate uric acid. Some of the active ingredients of burdock are polyacetylenes, which are known to be effective antibacterials and antifungals. Burdock enhances the performance of many of the organs which purify the body and eliminate toxins or waste (like the kidneys, liver, colon, etc). This enhances overall health and helps correct disorders.

Have you bought and cooked gobo before?

Post Author: Lilian

Food, travel, recipes. Chinese Malaysian, blogger, photographer and writer.

10 thoughts on “Burdock root – Gobo


    (January 30, 2008 - 4:35 am)

    Maybe the top part is abit old especially if you can see the distinct woody areas. I often buy this to make soup, suppose to be good for lowering blood pressure. You have to quickly peel and put into water or it turn black very fast. I use a Kyocera ceramic peeler to delay the oxidation. The Japanese cook a dish called kinpira gobo, but me, being Malaysian born , cut into matchsticks and fry with sambal blachan lah


    (January 30, 2008 - 10:35 am)

    me, me, i can answer this one!the Japanese use this in stews like oden and claypot nabes. i use it (rarely) in chinese soups and chicken stews. it doesn’tgive any particularly special flavor. 🙂


    (January 30, 2008 - 11:48 am)

    Its also useful as a weapon for navigating large Asian supermarkets. People will “siam” when they see a few of these approaching , but yet wont feel threatened when poked by them. 🙂
    My hubby swears I buy them not for soup but because it makes me feel “powderful” in an otherwise intimidating environment.


    (January 30, 2008 - 2:38 pm)

    i tried a dish in Taiwan with Burdock root. Thinly slice, deep fried, coated with honey and top with sesame seeds. It serves as starter.

    Yummy King

    (January 30, 2008 - 6:07 pm)

    I like to shred the root and cook it with long bean, shreded carrot, shreded celery, shreded chicken/pork/beef, etc ( cut match-stick size, bean curd (“dried type”)

    Burdock is good for health and we take it every week..


    (January 30, 2008 - 8:33 pm)

    yummy king – I am not sure if the one I bought is the same? It is very, very fibrous and smells very earthy.

    siawfui – Wow, really? I suppose I got the wrong kind cos there is no way to cut it finely.

    terri – Thanks, now I know what are those pieces I ate in ramen. I thought they are bamboo shoots but it is actually burdock cos it is harder than bamboo shoots.

    romantic – LOL, what an interesting weapon you got there! Let me see if there are younger roots cos I kept the roots for a few days before cooking so it probably gets tougher.


    (January 30, 2008 - 11:51 pm)

    Hi Lilian,
    Theres this Japanese lady that cuts 500 lbs for sale every year at the spring festival. She cuts them like the way we used to sharpen our pencils using the blade. There’s actually a cutter tool used for cutting things like gobo ( http://www.kuhnrikon.com/products/tools/tools.php3?id=44


    (January 31, 2008 - 10:31 am)

    This is just a type of fresh Chinese Herb call 牛蒡,you can get the dried one from the Chinese med shop. I use it to make enzyme before taste like ginseng. But if you want to boil soup, i suggest you get the Chinese Yam 淮山,又称山药 you can get it from the wet market also, it look similar to Burdock root , just much bigger in size.


    Recipe: http://baby.sina.com.cn/nutrition/07/3005/143189961.shtml

    Yummy King

    (February 2, 2008 - 10:10 am)

    Those that I buy are fresh and comes from Japan (not China). When you cut the Burdock root into thin strip, it will blend well with long bean, carrot,…all cut into smilar shapes.

    Burdock root is good for lowering cholestrol and I think this is the best way to consume it…with any fuzz…particularly to me son


    (February 3, 2008 - 1:40 am)

    I am a Singaporean and i stayed/studied in japan for a couple of years …. i suggest u try this very delicious dish called “Kinpira” … (u can get Kinpira rice burger in Japan and Singapore MOS burger.not sure abt KL’s).. and it is a vegetarian dish..


    1/2 lb gobo (burdock root)
    1/4 lb carrot
    1 tbsp soysauce
    1 tbsp sugar
    1 1/2 tbsp mirin (i use vegetarian mushroom sauce/vegetarian oyster sauce + a bit of sugar)
    1/2 tbsp sake (optional)
    1 tsp sesame seeds
    2 tsps vegetable oil
    Peel gobo and shred it into very thin strips. Soak the gobo strips in water for a while and drain well. Peel the carrot and cut it into short and thin strips. Heat vegetable oil in a frying pan, and fry gobo strips for a couple minutes. Add carrot strips in the pan and stir-fry them. Add all seasonings in the pan and stir-fry well. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle sesame seeds.

    Very easy to prepare..and very nutritious too..

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