Key Ingredient preview: burdock root | Bleader

Friday, September 9, 2011

Key Ingredient preview: burdock root

Posted By on 09.09.11 at 02:19 PM

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In this week's Key Ingredient Arami's B.K. Park challenges Bonsoiree's Shin Thompson with burdock root. Park's not much of a fan of the stuff, which is also known as gobo: "It's a very strong and very powerful flavor. I think he can make a better flavor [with it]," he says. Coincidentally, in a post titled Burdock What the Hell Is Burdock, Steve Albini of mariobatalivoice.blogspot.com (the Reader's choice for best new food blog) also picked some up.

Burdock certainly doesn't look like food, it looks like a like a dirty stick. Now's as good a time as any to find out what burdock is all about, I assured myself, and six bucks later I owned a solid yard of dirty stick.

He decided first to just boil some "and see what was up. Turns out it tastes pretty dull and isn't much fun in the mouth. Kinda like dirt crossed with a turnip plus rope. The smell of it while boiling was pretty interesting though, like a wet dog and a rotting tree stump."

So to "make a better flavor," he peeled and used it as part of a vegetable stock—"pretty clean," but with "a sort of dirty undercarriage musk"—for risotto.

As the dirty color of the burdock broth intensified in [the risotto], the color was starting to look drab and a little shitty, so I made a plan to enliven the plate with a roasted red pepper puree.

He garnished the risotto and red pepper puree with Parmesan and chunks of burdock root he'd soaked in a dressing seasoned with garlic, sesame oil, sriracha, and rice vinegar.

The verdict?

Excellent, with the murky taste of the burdock broth brightened by the tangy dressing and red pepper sauce, and while the burdock wasn't an exciting vegetable to eat, it was a decent vehicle for a nice dressing and was the catalyst for this whole thing. Sort of like an asshole buddy who introduces you to the love of your life, he gets a pass lifetime for that.

We'll see what Thompson, a Michelin star awardee, comes up with next week.

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