© Denzil Green
Yamagoboo (Edible Burdock) is a biennial plant whose root can be treated as a root vegetable.
Above ground, the plant has very large leaves up to 2 feet (60 cm) long and 1 foot (30 cm) wide. There is white fuzz on the undersides of leaves. For the first year or so, the leaves stay close to the ground, then in the plant’s second year of growth, in the centre a flowerstalk grows, anywhere from 2 to 9 feet (30 cm to 2 ¾ metres) tall. The flower stalk produces purple flowers that look like those from thistles, then it produces burrs. The plant dies after producing burrs.
The root underground can be up to 3 feet (1 metre) long and 1 ½ inches (3 cm) thick. It should be harvested before the flowerstalk appears. In fact, even younger is better, when no more than 1 inch (2 ½ cm) wide and about 18 inches (45 cm) long. Older roots get very woody and flavourless. When young, the roots have a slightly sweet, earthy flavour similar to salsify. The roots are greyish-white inside.
It is used as a flavour ingredient, rather than as a vegetable on its own.
When buying, choose firm, not flabby ones.
The very young flower stalks can also be eaten, before any flowers appear. You peel them, then parboil for one minute to get rid of the bitterness, then drain, then cook for 5 to 10 minutes. They will taste similar to artichoke hearts.
Young leaves can be used as a salad green or potherb. When cooked, they are mucilaginous.
The variety that grows wild in North America is mostly Arctium minus (Lesser Burdock.) It isn’t as nice; it is much more bitter.
© Denzil Green
Peel it lightly just enough to get the skin off. A good deal of the flavour is just under the skin. Peel only as much as you are going to use at one time, as it discolours when exposed to air. The best way to peel it is in fact not to peel it, but rather to scrub the skin off the root with a coarse scouring pad.
It is shaved razor-thin, not chopped. Slice very thinly on the diagonal, or use a food process or food mill to slice it thinly, or shred.
Soak your prepared pieces in salt water or in vinegar for 10 minutes to remove its bitter aftertaste.
If you just sauté or stir-fry slices of the root, it will not be very tender. You can sauté it first, but then afterwards it needs to be braised or steamed.
Simmering: simmer for 20 minutes or until tender. After sautéing, braise for about 10 minutes or until tender.
Leaves: 3.5% protein, 1.8% fat, 19.5% carbohydrate.
In China, the root is used in folk medicine rather than as a food item.
The root can make you windy (fart); it contains about 45% inulin.
1 cup, cooked = 120g = 4.2 oz
Store in fridge wrapped in wet paper towel in a plastic bag for up to a week.
Native to Siberia.