Kinpira is a great dish for strengthening and warming our bodies, especially during the colder times of the year. The cooking technique consists of initially sautéing the vegetables, then adding water and a cover to steam them. Cut the vegetables a little thicker in the cold months and thinner in the warmer months. This will enable a longer cooking time during those months when we need more warmth in our systems and a shorter cooking time when we need less.
I have made it using carrot, daikon radish and burdock, but any selection of root vegetables will do. Lotus root is a great addition as well. Slice it thin and add it near the beginning. I like to use an odd number of vegetables, preferably 3 or 5, because I think it creates a more dynamic dish. The amount of each of the vegetables in the dish doesn’t matter as much, just be sure to add vegetables one at a time according to density and cooking time. Generally, burdock will take the longest, that is also why it is cut very thin.
Burdock, also known as gobo, is a very strong root vegetable and energetically will impart some of that strength to us when we eat it. When choosing burdock, you want the root to be compact and dense. It should look fresh and not limp. It can look pretty dirty. Scrub it with a vegetable brush, but refrain from peeling it. Likewise for the carrots and daikon radish.
Carrot, Daikon and Burdock Kinpira
1 or 2 burdock roots equaling about 1 foot in length
2 medium size carrots
1 medium daikon radish
unrefined sesame oil
unpasteurized shoyu or gluten-free tamari
2″ piece of ginger
toasted sesame seeds (optional as garnish)
1. Cut the burdock into very thin and uniform matchsticks 2-3″ long. Cut the carrot and daikon into matchsticks the same length, but a little thicker.
2. Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium low heat. Add a moderate amount of sesame oil. Add the burdock as soon as a little piece sizzles gently when added to skillet. Add a pinch of sea salt. Sauté the burdock, moving it around constantly. Add a little more sesame oil if necessary. The burdock tends to soak it up.
3. As soon as the burdock starts looking slightly soft, move it out to the edges of the pan. Add the daikon and a pinch of sea salt and sauté for a minute or two before moving the burdock back in. Sauté the daikon and burdock for a few more minutes. Push those to the edges of pan and continue with the carrot and sea salt. Stir all 3 vegetables together after a minute or two. Sauté for another few minutes.
4. Pile all of the vegetables in the middle of the pan. Add a few tablespoons of water down the side. Cover, reduce heat slightly and let steam until the vegetables are almost soft. Add a little more water if necessary, but try to keep it minimal.
5. Remove cover. Sprinkle vegetables with shoyu, stir and let cook until vegetables are done. Remove from heat.
7. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds when serving.