I was wandering around downtown yesterday looking for presents and things for my Halloween costume. Since there's a very nice Japanese food store in Soho, I stopped by to get gobo, (burdock root) one of my favourite Japanese ingredients. Here's a simple rice dish I love - simple and healthy.
"3 cups" of short grained white rice (in this case, 1 "cup" is 180cc, or about 3/4 normal cup. So you need a total of 2 and 1/4 cups)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
half a stick (about 15 to 18 inches) of burdock root (gobo)
(1/4 cup sake if you have it)
You will also need a rice cooker.
Peel the skin of the burdock with a vegetable peeler. Using a sharp knife, make 4 or 5 incisions lengthwise in the burdock. Don't cut all the way through (although it's not a disaster if you do - I just find it easier to manage if the sticks are still connected at some point.)
Using the peeler again, shave it into slivers about a couple of inches long. As you go up, make more incisions - just to shave it into slivers instead of wide thin slices. using a sharp knife, thinly slice whatever the peeler can't shave.
Plunge into cold water and leave for 5 minutes. Burdock root oxidizes very quickly. Soaking it in water will help it release some of that brown color and a slight bitter taste.
In the meanwhile, wash your rice at least 10 times or until the water runs clear. Just massage it through your hands. By the way, if you have any glass jars or tupperware that smells of tomato sauce or garlic or whatever used to be in it, soak it in the water from washing the rice over night and the smell will disappear completely. Very handy.
Put the rice in the pot of the rice cooker, drain the burdock and put it over the rice. Add the soy sauce and a little sake if you have some. (I didn't.) Fill the pot with water up to the "3" mark. Cook.
When it has finished cooking, unplug the rice cooker. Open, and quickly mix the rice and the burdock, being careful not to squash or mash the rice. Close the lid and let stand for 5 to 10 more minutes. Serve.
I had this for lunch with a bit of grilled salted salmon. Miso soup would have been a great addition, too!