Updated: November 29, 2019
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Japanese Food Guide: What is Kinpira? (+ Recipe)

If you're a fan of Japanese food, you've likely come across the word 'kinpira' at some point. Maybe you've had a dish called 'kinpira gobo' or seen the word used somewhere else? If you're curious about what it means, read on (recipe link at the end!)

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What is kinpira?

Kinpira_eye_catch
Kinpira refers to a Japanese cooking technique that involves cutting vegetables (typically root vegetables) into fine slices and braising them in a sweet sauce, usually consisting of soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and chili peppers. The most well-known kinpira dish is kinpira gobo (burdock root), typically served as a side dish.

Other than burdock, renkon (lotus root), carrot, green pepper, mushrooms, and other vegetables are often cooked in this way.
renkon_kinpira
lotus root kinpira

Why is it called kinpira?

The name kinpira apparently traces back to the Edo period, when a handful of plays and stories were created about a hero named 'Kinpira' who was a strong and powerful warrior. Gobo (burdock root) was thought of as a powerful health food with a hearty crunch that apparently made people think of the hero Kinpira. During this time, burdock that was finely sliced and cooked in a sweet sauce began being referred to as 'Kinpira gobo' and the name was soon used to talk about any vegetable cooked in this way.
kinpira_gobo
kinpira gobo (burdock root) and carrot

How do you make kinpira?

Kinpira is a very easy cooking method that is quite delicious. You can really use whatever kind of vegetable you want, although gobo (burdock root) and renkon (lotus root) are the most commonly used vegetable. Here's a stylish youtube video recipe to use as a guide:

In Closing

I hope this recipe has answered all of your knipira-related questions. For information and a recipe for teriyaki sauce (somewhat similar to kinpira), check out our teriyaki article:
DeLong
I live in west Tokyo and spend most of my time thinking about food or going bouldering.

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