In Japan the tender taproot of burdock is cultivated as a vegetable. Indeed, I love to cook it Asian style as in the dish below which is delicious and very simple to prepare (shown with deep fried seaweed).
Simply dig up roots at any time of the year when you can see the leaves above ground but when no central stems have appeared (in the South this can even be possible in Winter). So that’s small to large plants in either their first or second year of growth.
In the second year, before the stem forms, even if the main tap root is woody, there can often be secondary roots of sufficient size to be worth using.
Ideally you’d just dig plants in their first year of growth but sometimes it can be hard to tell which stage the plant is at. If you do get woody parts, they can still be dried and roasted as part of a coffee style drink or dried and powdered.
- Taproot of Burdock
To cook as shown, scrub and clean the tender roots (no need to peel) and cut into battons. Alternatively you can cut them like your mother’s carrots, that is, into thinish rounds.
- However you decide to cut them, place in a pan with about 3/4 water and 1/4 soy sauce to just cover the roots.
- Bring to the boil and continue boiling until all the liquid has evaporated, being careful to stir continuously when when get to the point where most of the liquid has boiled off, as you don’t want the roots to stick and burn.
These are great as a side vegetable and are superb in stir-fries. Often I make huge quantities, freezing the cooked roots on trays in the freezer. A couple of times during the freezing process I agitate the roots so that they can freeze without sticking together once they’re completely frozen. After that you can store them frozen in a bag and take a handful out to toss into a stir-fries or other dishes whenever you like.