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Braised wild burdock recipe

a close up of a green plant

Alright, my guests on last weeks wild edibles tour really wanted my braised burdock recipe.  So here it is:


Serves 4 (side)

  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of burdock, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ chunks (you can buy burdock at Fujiya Market)
  • 2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs ponzu sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy nonstick pan (one that has a lid) over medium heat. Add the garlic cook 30 sec.
  2. Add the chopped carrots, soy sauce, water and pepper. Give a quick stir, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 30 minutes until the burdock is tender, stirring once or twice. You may need to add some more water if the mixture becomes too dry.
  3. When they are tender, take the lid off the pan and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook until the moisture has mainly evaporated and the carrots are nicely browned.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sesame oil.

Harvesting wild burdock:

Burdock (Arctium spp.) is very common in our area (Vancouver) and in many places around the world because it is a really hardy, successful plant originally from Europe.  It is a relative of rhubarb and has a similar leaf structure.  What do you eat?  The root is wonderful, nutty and slightly sweet like a carrot.  In Japan, it’s called gobo and is pickled, braised or eaten raw.

Where do I look?

  • Disturbed sites, gravel on the sides of paths and roads.

When do I look?

  • Fall is the best time to harvest roots

Key Features?

  • purple burs (flowers in Aug-Oct)
  • plant looks like rhubarb in structure
  • heart shaped leaf margins are wavy
  • powdery, hairy white or lilac stem
  • Full species information here

Know these look alikes first…

Cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium)

How to cook them?

You can eat the root raw or cook them as you would a carrot.  Great shredded into salad.

Fun Factoid

  • The burs are great fun, just throw them at your friends and watch them stick.

Please use caution when hunting for edible plants.  This is just a rough guide which is no substitute for going out with an experienced wildcrafter.  Most plants aren’t deadly poisonous, but it’s no fun getting sick and not worth the risk!  Come with us on a wildcrafting tour to start you off on the right foot.  

Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Pojar/MacKinnon – Is a great book reference for plants in our area.