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Burdock Kinpira

July 16, 2013

This classic Japanese side dish is tasty and nutritious.

Serves 4



  1. Scrub the burdock roots well, and cut into very thin, 5cm long julienne strips. Immediately submerge the strips in cold water to stop them from discolouring. Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat, then add the drained burdock and sauté for about 5-7 minutes. Add a couple of tablespoons of water, then cover and cook over a medium to low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the burdock is nearly tender. Meanwhile, scrub the carrots and cut them into julienne strips.
  2. Add the carrots and half the mirin. Fry briefly, then cover and leave to cook. Check regularly that the vegetables are not sticking to the bottom of the pan, and if they are, move them about with a wooden spoon. When the liquid is absorbed, add the tamari, the rest of the mirin, and the spices. Toss, cover, and cook briefly until tender, adding a couple of tablespoons of water if necessary. Serve hot as a side dish.

*Burdock root is prized in Japan for its crunchy texture and earthy flavour, as well as its strong medicinal qualities. Some specialist retailers are beginning to stock it in the UK, such as organic box schemes and some branches of Wholefoods. But probably the most consistent way to find burdock roots is to simply grow them yourself. They grow very easily with next to no encouragement in most kinds of soil. Alternatively, simply use parsnips instead for this recipe, or use more carrots to replace the burdock.

*Japanese Seven Spice (Shichimi Togarashi) is a mix of nori flakes, white and black sesame seeds, sansho pepper, chilli flakes, dried tangerine peel, and hemp or poppy seeds, and is a ubiquitous flavouring added to many dishes in Japan. This dish, adapted from a traditional Japanese recipe, is a simple way to enjoy burdock during its autumn and winter season.


John & Jan BellemeJohn & Jan Belleme

John & Jan Belleme are leading autorities on the healing powers of traditional Japanese foods. Before turning his focus to food and health, John was a research biologist for the Veteran's association in Miami, Florida, and he worked in laboratories at the Universities of Miami Medical School and Harvard University Medical School.

For more than twenty-five years John has applied his background in medical research to interpreting the literature on traditional Japanese medicinal foods.

In 1979, after living and studying in Japan for over a year - where the Bellemes learned the craft of miso making firsthand - they co-founded the American Miso Company, one of the world's largest producers of traditional miso.

Since the 1980s the Bellemes have researched and written, and in many cases illustrated, over 130 published articles on the subject of Japanese foods, including four books: Culinary Treasures of Japan; Cooking with Japanese Foods: A Guide to the Traditional Natural Foods of Japan; Clearspring - The Real Taste of Japan and The Miso Book.

John and Jan travel throughout the eastern United States giving lectures about authentic Japanese foods, and every winter, with partner Sandy Pukel, organise a week-long health cruise that features prominent experts in macrobiotic cooking, healthy living, holistic medicine, yoga, meditation, shiatsu, Pilates, and natural beauty aids. They live in Saluda, North Carolina.

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