Known in Japan as gobo, burdock is a slender root vegetable with a rusty brown skin and grayish-white flesh. Cultivated primarily in Japan, it grows wild throughout much of Europe and the United States. Burdock has a sweet, earthy flavor and tender-crisp texture. It's important to choose firm, young burdock, preferably no more than 1 inch in diameter; they will be about 18 inches long. Do not wash the earth-covered roots until ready to use. Store, tightly wrapped in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Scrub before cooking; peeling isn't necessary. Burdock can be thinly sliced or shredded and used in soups as well as with vegetables and meats.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.