Burdock is a biennial plant, cultivated for its root to be consumed as a vegetable. Burdock root 牛蒡 (other popular names: Arctium lappal, Greater burdock, edible burdock, Lappa burdock) is also called “gobō” in Japan and “u-eong”u-eong” in Korea. When I first saw burdock root at the wet market, I had mistaken it with a tuber called huai san 淮山 or shan yao 山药 (also referred as nagaimo, a Japanese mountain yam). Burdock root can grow up to 1 meter long (2.5ft to 3ft) with a diameter between 2cm to 4cm. It has a sweet but slightly muddy flavour.
Burdock root is rich in nutrients such as proteins, vitamins (Vitamin A, C, B1, E, K and folate), minerals (iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphoros) and dietary fiber. Given its high nutritional value, burdock root is also regarded as “Oriental Ginseng” (东洋参).
Burdock root provides plenty of health benefits. It is used as a diuretic, diaphoretic and a blood purifying agent in traditional herbal remedies. It aids peristalsis of the intestines, prevents constipation and abdominal flatulence. It also enhances blood circulation, prevents high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cerebrovascular disease and cancer. It’s also used to treat skin diseases (such as psoriasis and eczema) and burns. Burdock root oil is useful to strengthen and beautify hair by improving scalp circulation, combat hair loss and dandruff. Chinese medicine practitioners combine burdock root with other herbs to treat measles, tonsillitis, colds and sore throat.
Even though burdock root is loaded with nutrients, it may trigger certain side effects. Burdock root can cause allergy reaction to those who are already sensitive to daises, chrysanthemums, or ragweed. As a diuretic, it is also not recommended for people who are suffering from dehydration. Pregnant women should also avoid burdock root as it may cause uterus stimulation. Since burdock root may also affect blood sugar level, people on diabetic medication should also avoid it. More write-ups about these side effects can be found HERE and HERE. If you intend to use burdock to treat any specific ailment or consume it as supplement, it is recommended to consult a trained medical practitioner or doctor prior to using.
Burdock root has also gained popularity for its culinary uses in Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Burdock root can be cooked in a variety of ways such as an appetizer, stew, addition to soup, baked as bread and cakes, and even made into snack food.
So far, my son didn’t really show much interest for soups that I made with burdock root. But, this burdock root soup I am featuring today is an exception. It is a combination of corns on the cob, carrot and burdock root. I used the natural sweetness of corns and candied dates to cover the earthy taste of the burdock root. Hence, the overall taste is very delicious and welcoming to kids. When my son took a sip of the soup, he got hooked immediately. After drinking the entire bowl of soup, he ate all the ingredients served in it, including the burdock root slices too! Wow! I couldn’t believe my eyes! My trick works!!
This “kid-approved” soup is very nourishing and full of nutrients. It makes a great start for those who are new to burdock root. If you drink the soup and eat the cooked ingredients, then you will get to enjoy more health benefits from this soup and minimise any wastage.
Other reading references:
If you like this article, please share: