All photos and illustrations created by Faith Orcino.

Welcome to the fifth installment of Fictional Food with Faith!

Once again I looked into Gido Amagakure’s “Sweetness & Lightning” and found a recipe with an ingredient that always has I’ve always been curious about. In Chapter 18, the trio makes the side dish kinpira gobou which mainly consists of chopped carrots and burdock root.

The burdock root always piqued my interest since it’s not a common ingredient in neither American nor Filipino cooking. Strangely I really took notice of it after seeing a clip of Japanese comedian Hōsei Tsukitei (formerly Yamazaki) in a battle with the female comedy duo Moriman using them to hit each other. The nearest markets with burdock were quite far from me but luckily my sister was able to deliver some. The roots were all quite long as the metal scrapper in the image above was about 6 inches long and the root in the photo was around the average length.

As mentioned in previous posts, I have a large family so decided to prepare a serving enough for them. The recipe needed just one but ended up using five roots. It was quite a hassle getting all the dirt out during the summer heat. It was tricky not to scrub off the skin while making sure it’s clean. The listed cutting directions definitely helped with the prep.

Cooking the chopped burdock and carrots was quite easy as it mostly consisted of frying and boiling off the sauce in a non-iron pan. I think since I was preparing a large batch, the amount of soy sauce darkened the burdock a bit. Still, it was a nice side dish that was crunchy with a nutty and mellow flavor thanks to the mix of sake, mirin and soy sauce. It definitely can be prepared and saved in the fridge for later meals.

I later watched one of NHK World’s cooking programs (either “Dining with the Chef”, “Bento Expo” or “Your Japanese Kitchen”) and the chef suggested that if you can’t get a hold of burdock root, celery would be an acceptable substitute. I may try it out in the future along with some of the shows’ other recipes.

This recipe can be found in Volume Four in the English edition of “Sweetness and Lightning”. Check out Kodansha Comics’s site for more information.