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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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burdock Arctium lappa, a plant of the daisy family, Compositae, which, with its smaller relation A. minus, is common all over the northern temperate zone, and which furnishes edible roots. These are long (up to 120 cm/4' in length) and usually slender (around 4 cm/1.5" in width).

A. lappa is the popular vegetable gobo of Japan, the only country where it is eaten on a large scale, although it enjoys some popularity in Hawaii, where the Japanese introduced it, and in Taiwan (China grows a lot of it, for export to Japan). It is also popular in Korea, where it is eaten boiled or as deep-fried chips. In Japan, a distinction is made between two forms, one with green and one with purplish stalks. The varieties most esteemed are Ouragobo, from Oura near Tokyo, and Horikawagobo, an old favourite from Horikawa near Kyoto. The root of the former is unusual in being thick, short, and hollow inside.