Burdock root can grow to be small or large in size, averaging two centimeters in diameter and 30-91 centimeters in length, and is very narrow and slender with a straight, carrot-like shape. The rough, thin skin ranges in color from rusty beige to light brown and may be covered in smaller root hairs and marks across the surface. Underneath the skin, the flesh is dense, crisp, and pale white to ivory. Burdock root has a chewy and crunchy consistency with a mild, sweet, and earthy taste similar to artichoke, but the root may also have a slightly astringent or pungent flavor. Above ground, the burdock plant looks very much like a common weed with long-stemmed, large leaves and purple thistle flowers. The stalks and leaves are also edible and have a flavor similar to asparagus.
Burdock root is a good source of potassium, fiber, amino acids, calcium, and antioxidants, which can help boost immunity within the body. The root is also popularly dried and powdered or made into an oil extract for use as a dietary supplement as it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. In Chinese medicine, Burdock root is combined with other ingredients to make a sore throat remedy and treatment for colds. It is also considered to be a digestive aid and diuretic.
Burdock root is best suited for cooked applications such as frying, saut?ing, boiling, and baking. The starchy root must be scrubbed and peeled before cooking, and it can also be soaked in acidulated water to prevent oxidation and to remove any astringent taste. Burdock root is a traditional Asian ingredient often found in stews, stir-fry, and braised dishes. The root can be sliced, julienned, or cut into chunks and added to cooked meats as a flavoring agent, added to grain bowls for a nutty, earthy flavor, or pureed into a soup. The root is also sliced into pieces and steeped in boiling water to make a tea. In addition to the root, the leaves and stalks of the plant can be cooked in vegetable dishes, stir-fries, side dishes, and candied, or it can be chopped and added to fresh green salads. Burdock root pairs well with beef, poultry, shishito peppers, sesame seeds, red chiles, shiitake mushrooms, radish, tomatoes, garlic, onions, mirin, soy sauce, miso, and sake. The root will keep up to two weeks when stored whole and unwashed in the refrigerator.