You probably don’t know the name gobo, which is the name of my beloved Japanese vegetable, but you know well the related burdock, which grows by the streams and behind the old village houses. In autumn, burdock blooms in sticky puffs, which stick to pants and everywhere you don’t want at all. Herbalists know about the healing effects of burdock (lat. Arctium lappa) and they highly prize dry burdock roots. But for common usage as a vegetable burdock is not known in our regions. Neither root nor leaves. But in Japan it is greatly appreciated and people eat burdock quite often. A lot. There are many dishes using burdock. For me, forty-five years ago, when I came to Japan, it was a completely new vegetable, and I must say that I immediately fell in love with it. It is so beautifully earthy – koubashii – say the Japanese.
Gobo can be grown by local farmers in beautifully straight, almost meter-long unbranched roots, and I wonder how they can do it. I tried it. I brought the seeds in a suitcase from Japan and planted them last year in my garden here in Czech. Leaves came out and grew and then it became a giant bush. It reached the height of a man and finally developed a lot of sticky puffs. I could confirm that burdock is gobo, but that was the only benefit I achieved. I couldn’t pull the tangled and twisted roots out of the ground at all. In the end, everything was cut to pieces and the pieces were hard, woody. I was done growing gobo. No more. But the gobo didn’t end with me. It became a weed and weeded the entire garden. For example, in the row where I planted potatoes this year, potatoes grew OK, but the burdock plant also grew there. It was a bit late comer, it appeared in late August.
I was excited to dig the young gobo and you can see the result on my photo. The roots are short and twisted, but they are white inside and smell beautifully, just the way they should. They will definitely be good. I’m already looking forward to making kinpira gobo, the food we’ve been preparing in Miyabi for maybe twenty-five years. Some of our regular guests come to Miyabi to eat kinpira gobo and so I keep the food on our menu for them.
In the beginning of Miyabi, I brought dried gobo slices, then I bought frozen ones, and a few years ago I discovered a Chinese shop in Prague, Malešice at Vietnamese market SAPA, which imports fresh gobo from China. But I was probably the only customer who went to buy this gobo regularly and after some time it was for them not worth having it on their counter. Now they only have gobos to order. I returned to the frozen product so that the gobo could be on a permanent menu. I care very much about it. I highly recommend this product. As frozen it is imported to the Czech Republic by JFC and TAKO Foods. You can add gobo to soups dishes such as udon or butajiru, or you can stew it with pork. It is very good to cook the gobo in dashi and add sesame tahini. Gobo can pleasantly influence the ingredients you put it together. Who likes the taste, does not forget. And whoever adds to the liking the knowledge of the beneficial effects of gobo on our health will become a lifelong supporter and promoter of gobo just like me.
Gobo has a black skin and is white inside. And as it is often so with skin, gobo skin has the most nutrients and vitamins. The chefs would tell you how I scolded them when I saw them peeling gobo with a potato peeler. Too thick peels! It is advisable to wipe the skin only gently with the reverse side of the knife edge. And the part that is without skin, you must immediately put in water, otherwise it oxidizes and blacks. When peeling gobo, the kitchen is full of dirt, so you might be grateful for the gobo already peeled and frozen. Even such, gobo will remain what makes the gobo super food. Gobo is rich in fiber and this is exactly what is lacking in our modern diet. It is said that the Mediterranean diet is healthy because people eat a lot of high-fiber vegetables there, and the same is true in Japan. Compared to other countries, these countries have a quarter less patients with cardiovascular diseases. Now when we fear blood clots in connection with Covid-19, it may be appropriate to recall such materials that eliminate clots. The gobo is definitely one of them.
Gobo cleanses the blood, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol, is anti-inflammatory, helps reduce fever and is also used against rheumatism or acne. Contains calcium, potassium and amino acids. The advantage is that it has a low caloric value. The literature says that the plant is hardy and thrives all over the world. I tested it and yes, the gobo is doing well in the Czech Republic. I proved is doing very well! So I hope that there will be soon a pioneer grower who will transfer burdock from meadows to fields and grow beautifully long gobo roots for us who love gobo, so that we can be healthier and more resistant to diseases that attack us in the Czech Republic.
I will be the first customer. I believe that you will join. Gobo is good! I will be very happy to arrange your first meeting with the gobo. Meeting place is Miyabi.