Burdock and Beef Tongue Salad

05May10

It’s hard for me to believe that Japan is the only country where burdock root is eaten as a vegetable, but I’ve read it and I’ve heard it time and time again, so I guess it’s true. I have a great respect for root vegetables, especially the ones commonly used in Japanese cooking, including daikon radish, Japanese sweet potato, lotus root, ginger root, mountain yam, and burdock root.

Let me quote from my trusty Dictionary of Japanese Food by Richard Hosking: It is only in Japan that burdock root is eaten as a vegetable, usually about 1 m long and 3 cm thick. In China it is used as a medicine. The root is a very good source of dietary fiber and nutrients, and should be scrubbed rather than peeled, since much of the flavor is close to the skin.

Hosking goes on to write of how burdock is cut and soaked in cold water with a bit of vinegar, but there are more ways to cut burdock than he says, and soaking it in vinegar-water is not only to reduce its bitterness, but also to leech it of whatever it is that makes everything burdock is cooked with to turn brown. But not too long, or you lose much of the nutrition as well. If the prep is done correctly, there is no reason to avoid using burdock in hot pots (nabemono) as Hosking claims.

But in the dish I’m introducing today, I’ve used dried, not fresh, burdock. And I’ve turned it into a non-traditional salad with beef tongue and mixed greens. The burdock is already prepped and sliced into thin matchsticks before drying, so it’s all ready to use.

Ingredients:

dried, pre-sliced burdock root…..50 grams
beef tongue (sliced almost paper-thin, salted lightly)….200 grams
mixed salad greens….a couple handfuls
mayonnaise, Korean hot pepper paste, dark sesame oil, sesame seeds… in varying amounts

Directions:

1. Put dried burdock in a heat-proof bowl and cover it in very hot water (water that had been brought to boiling before taking off the stove). Let the burdock soak for 5 minutes, then drain off the water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Quickly cook the sliced beef tongue in a frying pan with a bit of oil. Remove from pan, and set aside.
3. Whisk mayonnaise, hot pepper paste and sesame oil together in a bowl. The amounts are up to you, but I use about 1/4 cup mayo, the smallest bit of hot pepper paste (like the round end of a match), and a short drizzle of sesame oil.
4. Toss the burdock and beef tongue in the mayo blend. Let it soak up the flavors for a few minutes. It tastes even better chilled, if you make it ahead of time. When you’re ready to serve it,  pile the mixture on a bed of mixed greens and sprinkle the top with black sesame seeds.

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Note: Using dried burdock is a huge time saver, and it has a long shelf life. If you live where you can’t get fresh burdock, you may be able to find the dried product at an Asian food market. Unfortunately, it isn’t as fragrant as fresh burdock. Sliced beef tongue is a popular ingredient in Japan, mostly for cooking on a grill, so it can be bought pre-sliced and often pre-seasoned with salt or miso. If you can’t get it pre-sliced and aren’t used to prepping a whole uncooked beef tongue (which can be time-consuming), use some other meat that can be sliced very thinly and cooked quickly. See my recipe for Pork Shabu Salad. For more Japanese root vegetable dishes, see my recipe for Japanese New Years Soup. I have lots more root veggie recipes–just click root vegetables in the tag cloud.

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2 Responses to “Burdock and Beef Tongue Salad”

  1. 1 Peggy

    I love burdock and just learned from this recipe that I can get it dried! Am thinking how I can use it without meat : )

  2. Burdock is most often used in meatless dishes, so you shouldn’t have any problem at all. You can even follow this recipe and leave out the beef tongue. Add something colorful like shredded carrot or red bell pepper. : )


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