金平 (kinpira) ごぼう (gobo) is a very common side dish seasoned with soy sauce and mirin.
What is Gobo (burdock root)
First, I think I should explain Gobo or burdock root which is the main ingredient for this dish. Since this ingredient isn’t widely used in many parts of the world.
Gobo is a root vegetable and it’s commonly eaten in Japan. Gobo is high in fiber and contains many minerals. The texture of the gobo is a bit hard and very fibrous. However, it easily soaks up dashi and sauces. The unique aroma is liked by Japanese people and widely used for many kinds of dishes.
What is Kinpira?
The name Kinpira comes from the main character, 坂田金平 (Kinpira Sakatano), in the traditional Japanese puppet theater performance called 金平浄瑠璃 (Kinpira juoururi). This character was a very strong and brave commander of a samurai army. It’s said that the tough texture of gobo and the slightly hot and spicy flavor of red chili pepper symbolizes his character.
How to prepare gobo?
The part just under the skin contains a lot of nutrients and flavor. Never use a peeler to remove the skin, instead, scrape the skin with the back of a knife.
Once you have cut the gobo, soak the pieces in cold water right away to remove the bitterness, and to prevent the gobo from turning brown.
The way of cutting gobo for this dish is different from person to person. I cut gobo into thin strips but my mom used to cut it into thick strips. Some people shave it like a pencil.
The salty-sweet flavor of kinpira gobo goes well with white rice. It also goes well with bread and some bakeries sell kinpira bread.
Now, some root vegetables are used for this dish instead of gobo. Whatever you use for this dish, It’s called kinpira something (e.x. kinpira daikon, kinpira renkon) and most Japanese people don’t know why it’s called “Kinpira”.
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