The burdock plant's long, slender taproot has a pleasant, crunchy texture and earthy flavor. Native to northern China and Siberia, burdock (Articum lappa) is cultivated mainly in Japan, where it has been an important vegetable since at least the 10th century. It also grows wild in North America. The plant can be recognized by its very large leaves and spiny burrs, which stick to your pants as you walk in the meadow. This " wild burdock" is very popular with macrobiotic students who feel it is one of nature's most powerful foods.
COOKING WITH BURDOCK
To prepare, scrub the root thoroughly but lightly with a stiff vegetable brush and remove any rootlets. It is best not to peel burdock except for overly tough roots, since the skin contains much of the flavor and nutritional value. Burdock's whitish flesh quickly becomes dark after being sliced. To avoid discoloration and eliminate the slightly bitter taste, immediately immerse sliced burdock in cold water for about 15 minutes or until ready to use.
Since burdock combines well with oil, it is often sautéed alone or with other vegetables, or deep-fried as tempura. It is also good simmered in a seasoned broth. Burdock requires lengthy cooking. When combining it with other vegetables in sautéed or simmered dishes, be sure to add burdock first and cook until it starts to become tender before adding other ingredients.