Living in Tokyo meant that I had very little access to cereals, orange juice with lots of pulp, fig bars and other high fiber food stuffs that are so ubiquitous in the U.S. I always considered myself to have a very "normal" digestive system and never felt I needed extra help to move things along.
Being a new resident in Tokyo, I was off the California Dreamin' diet and I realized that my "system" wasn't so normal after all.
I needed help.
That's when I started to be more deliberate about my fiber consumption and sought out foods in the Japanese diet that had lots of fiber. I've already professed my love for the queen of all high-fiber foods natto here, here and here and now it's time for me to introduce another fibrous food commonly consumed in Japan.
Gobo, or greater burdock root, is a brown vegetable, about one inch in diameter and three feet long. If you plan to purchase a gobo, I suggest you walk or drive since biking can be awkward with a three-foot long root hanging out of your bag.
It kind of tastes like how it looks: earthy and mild with a crispy-hard texture. It also has a light sweetness reminiscent of carrots, another long root. [Here is a photo of gobo and a carrot by nibblekibble on Flickr.]
One of the most common ways to prepare gobo is to prepare it as a kinpira gobo dish, which is simply sautéed gobo with soy/mirin/sake. People in Japan add their own flair to this basic recipe. Here's how I make mine.
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
1/2 tbsp of sake
1-2 tbsp of roasted sesame seeds
1. Cutting a gobo is like sharpening a pencil with a blade. To subdue the bitterness of the gobo, the strips must be soaked in water for at least ten minutes and strained.
This soothing video will show you how to cut the gobo.
2. Julienne carrots.
3. Combine the soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar in a small bowl. Mix well so that the sugar dissolves into the liquid.
4. Heat up oil in pan. Once it gets very hot fry the gobo for about 4 minutes, then add the carrots.
5. Continue to the fry the gobo and carrots for another 2-3 minutes.
6. Turn the heat off and add the soy sauce mixture. Coat the veggies well.
7. Roast up some sesame seeds and sprinkle over root mixture.
The great thing about gobo is that it can be served fresh out of the pan, or set aside at room temperature until you are ready to eat it. Since it's just root, soy and sugar elements it keeps well in an airtight container for up to a week.