Common name: (Lesser) Burdock
Scientific name: Arctium minor
Family: Asteraceae (Daisy)
TODO, the information below is for Arctium lappa!!!
Greatly prized in Japan for its edible roots (gobo), this wild edible is nearly totally overlooked as a vegetable in Europe.
Burdock has very large leaves (30-40cm long) with a heart-shaped base – this is all you will see in the first year of its life. A tall purple-green stem emerges in its second year, which smaller stem leaves and purple thistle-like flowerheads without spines. The seeds have hooked bracts which can stick to anything, even skin, and were the inspiration for the creation of Velcro.
The substantial roots are mild, earthy and sweet in flavour, often forked around stones in the soil. Scrub them clean and slice finely then fry as an individual vegetable dish or add to stir-fries, soups and stews. Alternatively par-boil the peeled roots and roast like parsnips. I like to add burdock root when I’m making vegetable stock or soup for added depth of flavour. The leaf stalks are crisp and tasty once blanched.
Burdock roots contain inulin, a slow-release carbohydrate that also feeds our good gut microflora. They also contain potassium, calcium, phosphorus and protein in good amounts, making them a nutritious addition to the diet. Herbalists use burdock to treat skin problems like eczema, acne and boils, and inflammatory joint problems like arthritis as it is aids elimination of metabolic wastes from the body.
Burdock root puree / soup (from The Forager Handbook, Myles Irving)
Fry slices of burdock and onion together, then add stock, soy sauce, mirin (sushi seasoning), black sesame seeds, sugar and good-quality vegetable stock. Taste and adjust seasonings. Dilute with vegetable stock to make a soup or keep it thick to make a puree to serve alongside roast duck.