07 May 2014

Burdock, carrot & cucumber salad

The weather has been so hot and humid recently that I tend to crave for light and refreshing salads during lunchtime.

One of my favourite salad is this burdock, carrot and cucumber salad. I've bought and eaten a similar one at a Japanese eatery at Liang Court before. Recently when I went to Tokyo I also saw this particular salad featured in a food magazine. I guess this is somewhat a modern Jap kind of salad because traditionally Japanese use burdock root to make a dish called kinpira gobō which is shredded burdock root and carrot braised with soy sauce, sugar, mirin and sesame oil.

Burdock known as gobō (in Japan) or 牛蒡 (locally or Taiwan/China) apparently has many health benefits and even medicinal properties. In local markets, we usually find the variety imported from China; the root is "aged" thus very hard and very fibrous; typically used to cook soups and seldom eaten on its own. At traditional chinese medicine halls, we can also find dried burdock (cut into thin slices) used for cooking herbal soups.

Variety imported from Japan is found only at Japanese supermarkets like Isetan and Meidi-ya. But still, they tend to be the more aged ones. For this particular salad, it's best to use young gobō which is very tender and sweet. Not sure if young gobō is imported or not, if not try to find the "youngest looking root" available. Whenever I go to Japan, I would buy a packet back since it's not easily available locally.

Ingredients are very simple, two young burdock roots (1 packet as seen in photo), one Japanese cucumber, one small carrot/half medium carrot, sesame seeds, Japanese mayonnaise and sesame dressing. The Jap mayo and sesame dressing can be found at major supermarkets like NTUC, at the Jap food section.

First, julienne everything. Then boil about 3 cups of water with 2 tbsp of vinegar (I use Japanese brown rice vinegar), blanch the burdock root for 30 secs followed by the carrot for another 30 secs. This step would remove the strong earthy smell of the burdock and also make both the burdock and carrot slightly tender.

Finally, just toss all the three ingredients with  2 tbsp of sesame dressing, 2 tbsp of Jap mayo and 1 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds. The salad is ready to eat but I prefer chilling it in the fridge first to make it truly refreshing. I can have this salad over two meals with probably sandwich or some other carbo.Totally love the crunch and sweetness of the veg, complimented by the creamy dressing and aroma from the sesame seeds. Yums!

Burdock, carrot & cucumber salad

  • 2 stalks young burdock root (1 packet)
  • 1 pc Japanese cucumber
  • 1/2 medium carrot or 1 small carrot
  • 2 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp sesame dressing
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
  1. Julienne burdock root, cucumber and carrot. Set aside. *If the bottom section of the burdock root looks very hard and fibrous, I usually cut about 5cm away and reserve it for soups instead of this salad.
  2. Boil 3 cups of water in a pot, add 2 tbsp of brown rice vinegar
  3. Blanch burdock root for 30 secs. Add carrot and blanch for another 30 secs.
  4. Drain and let cool.
  5. Toss burdock root, cucumber and carrot together with the mayo, sesame dressing and sesame seeds.
  6. Chill in fridge before serving.

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