Bento filler: Classic Kinpira Gobo (burdock and carrot kinpira)


Spicy-salty-sweet kinpira, crunchy vegetables that are quicky stir-fried and optionally simmered, are perfect for bento. So far I have given you carrot kinpira and forgotten vegetable kinpira, but Japanese food purists might have noticed that I haven’t posted a recipe for classic kinpira gobo (or goboh). There’s a simple reason for this: here in Switzerland, the only gobo or burdock root that I can get in the stores is an exorbitantly priced frozen version. But recently I was able to get my hands on some fresh gobo (no I didn’t smuggle it from Hawaii!) - so here, finally, is kinpira gobo.

Incidentally, this is what my fresh gobo or burdock roots look like:


Burdock root is very high in fiber, and has an earthy taste. The roots are slim and about 60-70cm (about 2 to 2 1/2 feet) long, and a light brown in color. Commercially grown burdock root doesn’t have a tough skin, so all you need to do is to scrub it well with a stiff vegetable brush or scrape it with a vegetable peeler. It has some bitterness, so it’s usually soaked in water before cooking.

By the way, I’m not suggesting that you should go out of your way to make kinpira gobo, if you can’t find burdock root in your area. As I’ve shown in my other kinpira recipes, the method can be adapted to many vegetables. The reason why kinpira gobo is ubiquitous in Japan is that burdock root is a very inexpensive standard vegetable. If you can get burdock root easily where you are though and you’ve never tried kinpira gobo, I hope you will. For me it was a rare and wonderful treat.

Recipe: Classic Kinpira Gobo

Kinpira gobo has carrot in it as well as burdock root. There should be about 4 parts burdock root to 1 part carrot, which comes out to about 1 burdock root to 1 small to medium carrot.

1/2 cup of this comes to around 50-60 calories.

  • 2 burdock roots, well scrubbed
  • 2 small or 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. dry red chili pepper flakes, or 2 small fresh red chili peppers finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 Tbs. mirin
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. soy sauce

Cut the burdock root into 5 cm / 2 1/2 inch or so long pieces. Slice each piece lengthwise then cut into matchsticks. Put the burdock root pieces in a bowl with enough water to cover, and let soak for a few minutes. Drain away the water, and refill the bowl with fresh water. Soak a few minutes more then drain. Pat the burdock root dry with kitchen or paper towels.

Cut the carrot into matchsticks too. There’s no need to soak the carrots.

Heat up a wok or large frying pan with the sesame oil. Add the burdock root and carrot piecs, and sauté briefly, tossing to coat the pieces with oil. Add the chili pepper flakes and toss. Add the sugar, mirin and soy sauce and about 1/2 cup of water. Lower the heat to medium, and continue cooking and stirring until the moisture has disappeared from the pan. Taste a piece of burdock root for doneness: it should be crisp-tender. If it’s too crunchy for you, add a bit more water and cook some more.

Kinpira gobo keeps in the refrigerator for a few days. It can also be frozen, wrapped in individual portions.

Kinpira oyaki

Kinpira gobo or other kinds of kinpira are great as potato oyaki fillers. Here are two filled with roughly chopped kinpira gobo.


Recipe for potato oyaki here.

(And yes, I’m back to regular posting!)

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Welcome back, Maki! I’m

Welcome back, Maki! I’m glad to read you!

great to be back! :)

great to be back! :)

Glad you’re back. I

Glad you’re back. I enjoyed the Hawaii postings too.


Hi, Maki - I bought some burdock root over the weekend intending to juice it (not sure if it would be tasty or not, just taking a gamble). I changed my mind and decided to find a recipe to cook it. I was going to search for one tonight and now I don’t have to - how cool is that? I’m going to try this out tomorrow. :)

Thanks! Kaori

I bought some of this

I bought some of this premade (like deli style box) to try. Should I reheat it in a fry pan?

LOL - I am too excited about trying so many new things!

You might want to heat it

You might want to heat it through (and then cool it down) to be on the safe side, if you’re going to be putting it into a bento box to eat later. Otherwise you can just eat it as-is.

Thanks for the kinpara

Thanks for the kinpara recipes! I’ve made carrot kinpara and cabbage kinpara, and they’re a great addition to my meals. I like to add a little garlic too.


This is not related to the kinpara but to burdock, ive seen a few recipes that i want to try that ask for burdock but I can not find it and I was wondering what you could use in its place.



So far, I haven’t found a

So far, I haven’t found a good substitute for burdock root, which is why I have never featured it here on Just Bento or on Just Hungry since I can’t get a hold of it easily myself. You can just try leaving it out, or skip the recipe if gobo is the main feature.


I will just keep skipping them/leaving it out, till i find somewhere that sells it.

I could not get hold of the

I could not get hold of the roots and experimentally replaced them with Black Salsify, tastes quite well!

I do like salsify on its own

I do like salsify on its own merits (I’d never seen them until I came to Europe!) but it doesn’t taste like burdock to me at all. It does look quite similar though.

Re: Bento filler: Classic Kinpira Gobo (burdock and carrot ...

my mom told me how to make this a while ago and i forgot...and lost the paper she sent me when i thank you for i can make it again! it is one of my favorites =)

Re: Bento filler: Classic Kinpira Gobo (burdock and carrot ...

Hi Maki!

I bought some gobo seeds last year and planted them in my Dad's garden, but we can't seem to get them out of the ground! Any hints? I've got about five pieces about 15cm long each, which is not nearly enough. I can't wait to try this recipe, it was a favourite from my school lunch days in Kyoto-fu.

Re: Bento filler: Classic Kinpira Gobo (burdock and carrot ...

I have never grown gobo myself, but I remember my aunt digging them out with a pitchfork and a shovel...she had to go pretty deep! You may have to dig quite deeply... good luck!

Thank you!

This is an amazing recipe, even my mom and dad, who are wary of "exotic" asian food (I cook and study it all the time now, so its not so exotic to me!), and my teenage brother love it! Ten Stars!

Re: Bento filler: Classic Kinpira Gobo (burdock and carrot ...

I had previously only eaten burdock sliced in miso soup when growing up (in a non-asian but hippie family). I made the kinpira gobo on the weekend and it was so delicious! It's nice to have a different way to enjoy burdock (although I do still like it in the soup).
I've actually made 4 or 5 recipes from the site so far (and I only found it a week ago), and have bookmarked many more to do soon as time allows.

Re: Bento filler: Classic Kinpira Gobo (burdock and carrot ...

Superb! That was incredibly easy and what flavor. However, I don't think this will keep a few days in the fridge. It might all be gone today; tomorrow at latest. Thanks for broadening my joy and brightening my day :-)

Re: Bento filler: Classic Kinpira Gobo (burdock and carrot ...

For you foragers out there, burdock grows wild in eastern North America. Be sure to identify it correctly.

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